Tuesday, August 19, 2014
The Sheraton Phoenix Airport hotel wins the complex shower handle competition. I've never seen one like this before and the hotel even includes directions for use. The hotel is being renovated, so I hope on my next visit I can have regular plumbing.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
I flew an airplane last weekend and have a new appreciation for the value of the rudder pedals. The Commemorative Air Force Arizona Wing offers rides in a few of their old military aircraft. The B-17 and B-25 bombers are on a summer tour, but the transport planes and single engine aircraft are there year.
I decided to go up in the North American T-6 Texan trainer. It was a close call between that and the Boeing biplane. The T-6 has the pilot in front and the student in the back. The experience is about 50 minutes from engine start up to stop. I showed up early, signed some paperwork and toured the hanger with planes that weren’t flying that day. The volunteer staff loves what they do and are happy to share stories and answer questions.
I was the first to go that morning and the pilot, "Sky," did preflight checks on the T-6 then invited me over to introduce me to the aircraft and some safety notes. I was buckled in, shown how to operate the canopy (needs to open for takeoff and landing to facilitate a quick exit), instructed on the intercom and shown the controls. I was excited to go and liked to idea of flying in a convertible until the 350hp engine started. The noise and wind were incredible and we were still parked.
The power was increased and we taxied out to the runway. It was a busy morning at Falcon Field and a few flight school planes and the Boeing biplane departed before us. Our turn came quickly and we were at full power with the canopy open. The roar of the engine and the rush of the wind were tremendous. The tail lifted off first then the main gear and we headed to the east and gained altitude. I closed the canopy after we left the airport and started shooting away with my camera.
We flew over to the Tonto National Forest and I took in the sights. Pretty soon "Sky" came on the radio and said he was going to give me a quick lesson and hand the controls over to me. I caught onto the stick movements and the rudder movements, but doing them all together didn’t quite link up in my head. No matter, I was at the controls and having a blast. I started with banking left and right, adding the rudder inputs on a delay. Then I tried nose up and down and had fun making my own roller coaster at the limits of my air sick tolerance. It was fun and I soon got the hang of it, though not perfect, the instruments and were acting like I wanted. "Sky" said I was doing well and tool back the controls to give me a challenge. We started banking heavily left then right and back while he was explaining the challenge. I came on the intercom and stopped him before he could finish mentioning my stomach wasn’t up for it and we did some straight and level sightseeing before heading back to airport. I had the air sick bag out, but didn’t need it.
We landed smoothly and zig zagged back to the hanger. I was able to stumble out of the plane and felt like I needed a walker. After standing still for a while, I was able to tour the museum and look at more classic war planes. It was an amazing experience and I’d go back if I’m in the area again, but ride the biplane instead; all those passengers were able to walk normally when they climbed out.
|T-6 Texan in the Morning Light|
|Boeing PT-17 Stearman|
|T-6 Engine Detail|
|Stearman Biplane Taxi|
|Me and the T-6 Texan|
|I feel the need - the need for speed!|
|Taxi To Runway 4R|
|Back Seat Driver Controls|
|View in Air|
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I booked an award reservation for a friend earlier this year for travel in September and forgot about it. I recently was on United.com looking at my reservations and pulled up this award flight to find there was a change. United downsized a CRJ-700 to a CRJ-200 and my friend lost his first class seat. The reservation message wanted me to click ‘Continue’ to accept the change and move on. I didn’t want to accept the change and instead clicked to the home page and looked for a better option. I was able to find a first class seat on an Air Canada E175 and called United to make the change. The agent found the award seat and updated the reservation. My friend now has a larger seat, TV, meal, shorter lines, and free drinks. Just because United updates your reservation, you don’t have to accept it. The agents can be very flexible too because it was an airline initiationed reservation change.
|Air Canada A319 in Denver|
Monday, August 11, 2014
There was a big spender on my flight to Houston because United sent a Mercedes SUV to take them to their connecting flight. Oddly the person was flying coach or not observant because the agent was still waiting in the jetway for them after first class had emptied. United offers transfer service at hubs to Global Service (top 1% revenue passengers) members when able. There was an agent in the jetway with an iPad showing the passenger's name waiting for the flight to arrive. It's a cool service, similar to part of the Lufthansa First Class service, but isn't guaranteed.
|United SUV Transfer in Houston|
Friday, August 8, 2014
There's an AP story with the headline "Empty seats increase at United Airlines" and I don't believe it. From my observations United is flying planes 95%+ full 90% of the time. Take today for example, I'm trying to stand by onto an earlier flight, but there is not one available seat, even with connections, for the 12 hours before my trip.
|United 737-824 Pushing Back Full Probably|
Thursday, August 7, 2014
DFW wants to issue a contract for $1,200,000 for consultants to study international airport lounges and make a recommendation on what DFW should do (existing lounges aren't of the caliber foreign carriers expect). That sounds like an amazing consulting gig, travel around the world and spend large amounts of time trying out all the features of airline lounges. I wish I had bid on this contract (I did conduct a customer experience analysis at Helsinki Airport).
|United First Class Lounge at SFO|