A free tip from the book

 Planes, Pranks & Pepto Bismol
Tales and Tips From a Seasoned Road Warrior

Non-Fiction By Bob Behrent

This Weeks Helpful Excerpts

Airline Delays & Cancellations

 Most annoying, to the business traveler, is airline delays and cancellations. Although delays are not isolated to just the airline industry they are the most prevalent.

 So how do we handle that? The simple answer is, “Not well.”

 The airlines claim four official types of delays: weather, mechanical, crew being timed-out or anything else that does not fall into the other three. I will address the “weather” issue in this article.

 Weather is the killer of hope that you will arrive at your destination on time, if at all. It is the root of the most dreaded cancellation and weather cancellations leave the airline no responsibility to you for anything, except maybe re-booking you for a later time, or day.

 If the plane is delayed or canceled for a mechanical problem and you will be stranded at the airport for a considerable amount of time, usually you will get, if requested, a meal voucher. It will be for a dollar amount that is equal to fast food costs so don’t get your hopes up for a gourmet meal on the house. Hotel vouchers will be issued if you must stay overnight. Not so with weather issues. You are on your own.

 You may ask, “What about ATC, or Air Traffic Control issued holds and delays?” Well, ATC delays are usually due to “weather conditions.” These can occur at airports other than the one you are trying to leave. If you’re in sunny Los Angeles a snow storm in Chicago or thunder storms in Houston will slow things down for the entire country even if you are not going to either of those destinations. And if you are, many times ATC will not allow your flight to leave the airport. The reason? So there will be no wasted fuel by requiring your aircraft to circle while other planes are landing at a slower rate in the bad-weather location.

 Personally, I hate it when I am on my way home and ATC makes my pilot do figure eights or circles in the sky to kill time before landing, due to weather conditions. With thousands of planes in the sky at any given time I just want to go straight to the runway, land and not be one of those thousands of aircraft that air traffic controllers are trying to keep from colliding into each other in the sky.

 Simple delays of an hour or two are usually tolerable, unless you have made the really stupid mistake of setting up the most important meeting of the year to begin an hour after you were to arrive. It doesn’t matter if the flight was to be six hours or thirty minutes late. If you are late, you look incompetent and blaming the airline is lame. It will only emphasize your own poor judgment and planning.

 I always leave the day before my business is to start. It simply gives me a twenty-four hour buffer zone. If my flight happens to be canceled completely, I then have the opportunity to postpone the meeting with a full day’s heads up to the customer or client.

 So sit back, relax and . . . wait.

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 I received this very funny email which detailed some conversations between pilots and airport towers. These things cycle so you may have already seen it, but even if you did, it is still worth another laugh.


ROGER

 

Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
 

Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"


Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."
 
TWA 2341: "Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"

 Tower:: "Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"


From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: "I'm f....ing bored!"
 
Ground Traffic Control:
"Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!"
Unknown aircraft: "I said I was f...ing bored, not f....ing stupid!"
 


O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound."

United 329: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this...I've got the little Fokker in sight."



 A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on Radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?"
 
Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."
 


A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower Noted: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the light and return to the airport."


A Pan Am 727 flight, waiting for start clearance in Munich , overheard the following:  Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak in English."

 Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany . Why must I speak English?"
Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent):"Because you lost the bloody war!"


er: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7"
 Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."
 Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7.Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?"
Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern... We've already notified our caterers."


One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. Some quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"
 
The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real zinger: "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one."


The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206.
 Speedbird 206: " Frankfurt , Speedbird 206! Clear of active runway."
 
Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."
 
The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
 
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
 Speedbird
 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."
 
Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?"
 Speedbird
206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, -- And I didn't land."


While taxiing at London 's Airport, the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft.Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727..
 An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming:
"US Air 2771, where the hell are you going? I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between C and D, but get it right!"
 
Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically:: "God! Now you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour, and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, US Air 2771?"
 
"Yes, ma'am,"
the humbled crew responded. Naturally, the ground control communications frequency fell terribly silent after the verbal bashing of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind.. Tension in every cockpit out around Gatwick was definitely running high. Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking:
"Wasn't I married to you once?"

 

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Meals for the Road Warrior (And vacationers on a budget)

 

            When you travel to all the major cities you will have the opportunity to sample food from the finest culinary establishments in the world. However, some of you will be on limited budgets, because of cheapskate bosses like the ones I had some time ago.

            Until you are established and either on your own or fully supported by your company, you may need to keep to the TGI Friday’s and Chili’s price-class restaurants for the higher-end establishments. There is nothing wrong with those types of restaurants; in fact, I like them. A high-end steak or seafood house or the best Italian restaurant in town needs to be an occasional reward for the aggravation you are subjected to during your travels. So take your best customer out to dinner or lunch on the company. The customer will appreciate it and you will get to spoil yourself for a while.

            When you can’t, check the telephone book for restaurants go on the Internet and search them out. The Internet will usually give reviews and list the price ranges and show the menus so you have an idea  what you will be spending. You can also ask around for advice. I don’t recommend asking the hotel desk clerk because they may have an incentive to suggest certain restaurants and consequently, they may have no first hand knowledge. However, some hotels have a list they can give to you of local recommendations that may be okay . . . or, perhaps not. Sometimes the restaurants may pay to be on the list. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are any good.

            Cab drivers are another bad source. Sure, they know where they have dropped people off, but that does not necessarily mean the place is good.

            Ask your customers for suggestions because they have usually had some history of suckering in a few salespeople for a high-priced meal at some place where they would not want to pick up the tab.

            It is best to ask for the specific food you want, such as Mexican or seafood, etc. Many times there are local “mom and pop” restaurants that are only known to locals and turn out to be fantastic and are cheap.

            Keep in mind that restaurant reviews are subjective. For example, a person who usually frequents White Castle for lunch and loves those tiny little ground-up mystery meat patties, will probably think a burger at Ruby Tuesday’s tastes like the thirty-dollar burger at Twenty-One Club in New York City. If you have eaten a burger at Twenty-One, Ruby Tuesday’s will taste like White Castle.

            A friend of mine recommended “the best prime rib you will ever eat” at some greasy diner near my home. “Huge,” he said. “Hangs over the plate.”

            Since my best prime rib was at The House of Prime Rib in San Francisco, Lawry’s in Las Vegas and Kinkaid’s in Berlingame, CA and since it is flavor, not size that matters (See, size doesnt matter) I nodded, lied and said I’d try it one day.

            It all comes down to the reference you are accustomed to. So take that into consideration when shopping for a restaurant recommendation.   

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Road Warrior Luggage

 

Luggage is a very important piece of gear for the road warrior. It has to be versatile, durable and as lightweight as possible. It should be able to be over packed, over used and under appreciated. Yes, it should be able to be taken for granted.

 Zippers should look like large meshed tank-treads and able to smoothly close and securely seal the heaviest of ballistic nylon compartments.

Yes, I said Nylon. Leather is beautiful when it is brand-spanking new but it will look like an old saddle from the Civil War after a few flights.

Your bag does not have to look good, nor does it need a designer name or label. Most of those bags are actually poor quality knock-offs and are made in China with no legal relationship to the designer at all.

The best rule of thumb is to buy the best bag you can; spend the five-to-eight hundred dollars and you will have fewer problems and save money in the long run.

Did you ever watch baggage handlers at the airport?

            Watching them load bags into the plane they look like frustrated professional wrestler want-a-be’s. They body slam every bag they place on the conveyer with apparent malice, then the next handler will fling it, or toss it into the plane’s belly or onto the baggage truck if the plane just landed. It is as if those fellows hate their jobs and all those poor bags are going to pay the price.

Two to three hundred dollar bags can’t hold up for very long with that rough handling. And your new, sexy, expensive, but cheaply made designer bag will look not-so-sexy after a few trips. One day you may see your tighty-whities coming off the conveyer one at a time onto the baggage carrousel. Just hope they are clean.

It is embarrassing when the baggage is taking a long time to come up because it is your bag that is jammed in the conveyer. Then, after some of your clothes come up, your bag flops out with the zipper broken, your shoulder strap is gone and half your clothes are missing. The side has a large tear in it and the good news is that you still have one shoe left and it is hanging out the hole.

If you’re lucky, you can fold and jam the shredded heap into a bundle and gather it into your arms and hug it all the way to your rental car. That really sucks! Believe me, I know. I’ve been there. It happened as described in Atlanta during my early days. 
          That was my last cheap bag.       (And the underwear was clean.)



Previous week:
  Rental Car Ramifications

Rental car companies are all pretty much about the same but you will steer toward the ones who have the most convenient locations and with “on airport” locations being preferable. However, the current trend is for airports to build “Rental Car Centers” off-airport for most all of the rental car companies.

There are only a few simple precautions to take with regard to rental cars. If there is damage you didn’t notice it when you picked up the vehicle it will be a problem when returning it. So do a walk-around and be sure any damage is duly noted in writing before leaving the garage or lot and don’t lose your copy. Also, keep it afterward for a while so when you get a letter about the damage a month later, send a copy of the damage statement. Better idea still—don’t take the car. Get a different one.

If you do find a dent before returning it you may want to give it an extra kick since you will be paying for it anyway.

Another useful tip is to memorize at least the last three numbers or letters of the license plate. Why? Because it is not your car and a lot of cars, especially rental cars, look alike.

For example, while in Dallas once I stopped at a convenience store for some mints. I parked my blue Chevy rental at the side of the building. With mints in hand, I returned to the car and got in. As I put my key in the ignition I realized the key was not going to turn. I also noticed that the papers I left on the passenger seat were not mine. Whoops, wrong car. My blue Chevy was two cars away. Just as I was getting out of the car the guy to whom it belonged was coming out of the store. He looked at me with a “what the hell are you doing in my car” expression.

People in Texas can legally carry guns so I quickly apologized and explained my rental car was to the right and I mistakenly got in the wrong car.

He chuckled and told me his was a rental also and originally was headed for my car but realized it was not the correct plate number.

From then on, I always denote the plate number and don’t risk being shot—at least in Texas.


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