Hertz knows how to “take” the reservation

They just don’t know how to “hold” the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation: the holding. Anybody can just take them… Jerry Seinfeld, The Alternate Side

When I came to Hertz in Boston on Monday evening there was no car waiting for me and the line queued all the way outside of the Hertz building. And so I went back to the airport and took a taxi. But again, I was not frustrated

Relaxing and Enjoyable Threat

I received the message below from BA earlier today:

Terminal 5 has new measures in place to improve security and avoid delays. Here is some important information you need to know about using the terminal to ensure you have a relaxing and enjoyable airport experience:

At Terminal 5, you must ensure that you pass through ticket presentation and Security and be ready to fly at least 35 minutes before your flight departs. If you miss this deadline, you will not be allowed onto your flight.

Terminal Problem

If your profile is ABC1 and you plan to go to Heathrow Terminal 5 for shopping you won’t be disappointed:

Terminal 5 is working with a range of local and globally strong brands to create a new and exciting retail environment, with each store concept fulfilling the key criteria of being surprising, tempting and experience-enhancing. And whether consumers are after stimulation or relaxation, Terminal 5 will set new standards in retail and dining experiences with 144 different stores and restaurants from which to choose.

From a traveller perspective the audience demographic is anticipated to be 92% ABC1 in profile, and the Terminal will be used exclusively by British Airways – Domestic, European and International destinations.

On the other hand if you are one of us who don’t want to buy a new Prada bag at T5 but who want to connect at Heathrow to another flight or go directly to London, the situation won’t be as rosy. The real problem at Heathrow is actually the lack of runways. Two current runways serve five terminals and they are used to the maximum. Any disruption creates a ripple effect of delays and flight cancellations. My yesterday’s flight from London to Prague was three hours delayed and the reason was a rain shower that delayed some incoming flights few hours earlier. And on top of that BA lost my bag…

To summarize my experience: Heathrow T5 is an exclusive shopping mall but it’s a terrible airport.

Twelve Hours of Solitude

I don’t mind long flights. Twelve hours of flight time with no Internet access allows me to focus on my long term plans and helps me to organize my thoughts. But not today. I was so exhausted from my busy trip that I fell asleep soon after the take-off from San Francisco and I woke up twenty minutes before our landing at Heathrow. No food, no movies, no work. Twelve hours of the ultimate solitude…

There’s only one Virgin on this flight baby

I came to California on Virgin America flight from NYC yesterday. It was my first flight with this new low-cost airline and I was impressed by the service: leather seats; entertainment system that allows passengers to order food, watch one of 25 movies or satellite television, play video games or send instant messages to other passengers. And the mood lighting is really cool:

Mood Lighting

A casual traveler may wonder why there is not more airlines like Virgin America and here is why:

Under the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, Congress required that U.S. citizens own or control at least 75 percent of the voting interests of U.S. airlines. This standard has remained the same since then.

Current U.S. law defines a “citizen of the United States” as an individual U.S. citizen, a partnership whose members are U.S. citizens, or a corporation or association organized under U.S. law where at least 75 percent of the voting interest is owned and controlled by U.S. citizens. The law also specifies that the president, as well as at least two-thirds of the Board of Directors of the corporation, must be U.S. citizens. That is, the law has been construed as requiring actual control of the enterprise to rest with U.S. citizens.

I am sure they did not know anything about globalization back in 1938 but these requirements only help to cement the dire state of American airline industry today…

I’m in a New York state of mind

Some folks like to get away
Take a holiday from the neighborhood
Hop a flight to Miami Beach
Or to Hollywood
But I’m taking a Greyhound
On the Hudson River Line
I’m in a New York state of mind

I did not take the Greyhound and I am not here on a holiday but I am still in a New York state of mind…

Crash! Boom! Bang!

I did not expect to find my luggage when I arrived to Boston last night. But it was not my bag who had problems to get to the US. I was the one who was very late! The US immigrations computer system was down and there were several planes ahead of us waiting for the immigration clearance. I don’t know why the INS computers did not work but I am sure the reason is similar to the recent GrandCentral outage (the message below is from Craig Walker, founder of GrandCentral). Find GC and replace it with INS:

I wanted to write a quick note to all the GC users and apologize for the service interruption this morning. We had a power issue at our current colo facility and it knocked us off line for a few hours. Unfortunately I’ve been up in the mountains with the family this weekend and had no cell/internet coverage so couldn’t respond earlier. I did want to let you know that we were able to restore the service by noon today and are working extremely diligently to make sure this won’t occur in the future. We’ll do a better job keeping you informed in the future, not only about service related issues but also about upcoming features, soliciting your feedback, and generally making sure that you, the GC user, is well informed as to what’s going on with the service.

Expecation minus Delivery equals Frustration

This rule is as applicable to product management as it is to travel. I don’t expect to find my bag in Boston when I land there and so I won’t be frustrated. And I did expect long lines at Heathrow and I was not dissapointed…

BA: Long haul flight move to Terminal 5 has been delayed

Flight delays happen all the time but delayed terminal is quite unusual. However it is not entirely unexpected. Once I landed at the Brussels airport shortly after the Belgian king opened a new terminal. We waited and waited and then captain made the following announcement: “Sorry for the delay. We were assigned a gate that doesn’t exist yet”. I am sure nobody told the king the airport was not exactly finished…

Below is message I received from BA today:

Dear Mr Stanek

You may have heard the news today that British Airways and BAA (the London Heathrow airport authority) have agreed to defer the move of the majority of our long haul intercontinental flights from Heathrow’s Terminal 4 to Terminal 5. The move, originally planned for 30 April, will now begin in June.

Although we have seen a steady improvement at Terminal 5, we want to be sure that customers can be confident of high service standards when the terminal is handling larger numbers of passengers.

Both we at British Airways and BAA recognise that the opening of Terminal 5 has not been as smooth as we would have wished. We will be working with BAA to iron out any remaining problems, including the baggage system, and develop a robust timescale for phasing the move of Terminal 4 services in to Terminal 5. We believe it is only sensible to make sure that Terminal 5 is operating consistently at a high standard before the move begins.

We do not underestimate the uncertainty and inconvenience this delay may cause you if you have a trip planned in this period. Our priority is to continue making improvements to achieve the high levels of service our customers should expect from us as soon as possible.

A small number of long haul intercontinental flights have already moved to Terminal 5. These will be unaffected by the delay to the move of other flights.

We will provide more details of the move as soon as we review progress of the improvements being made. The latest information will always be available on ba.com.

In the meantime, if you are planning to travel with British Airways on a long haul flight currently scheduled to operate from Terminal 5 after 30 April until 31 May, please check which terminal you will now be flying to or from by visiting http://www.britishairways.com/travel/routedest/public or ask your travel agent for more information.

Warm regards,

British Airways

TripIt!

Every time I planned my travel I ended up with a pile of confirmation emails from different sources: airlines, hotels, car rental companies, internet travel agents and so on. It was usually very difficult to create an itinerary from this mess. Until today!

Everything changed when I joined TripIt earlier today. I simply forwarded the confirmations to plans@tripit.com and I ended up with a very detailed travel plan for my upcoming US visit. Few clicks and I was done. Now I have everything in one place. Integrated with my Google calendar. The best Web 2.0 app I ever used. By far…