Monday, October 31, 2005

Flight Attendant Costumes

As a kid, I loved Halloween.  The dressing up, the candy, the scary games, the frivolity of it all.  As childhood segued into teen years, it took on a different meaning.  Sure, it was still about costumes and candy, but now factor in haunted houses, boys, parties and making out. 
Halloween as an adult doesn't really register on my radar scope.  I don't enjoy putting on a costume any longer.  I certainly don't need the wasted calories of cheap candy.  And the parties just don't seem the fun that they once were.
Which is why it is good that I am not flying on Halloween.
Although we still must report to work professionally dressed and in full uniform, once onboard the plane we are allowed a little leeway in self-expression:  we can have a little fun with a Halloween costume.  For obvious reasons, we are not permitted to wear masks, anything frightening, anything political, or anything slutty.  Since that eliminates all the really fun things about dressing up, I never really got into the costumes at work thing. 
That is, until last year.  And it wasn't even really a costume.  It was just a pin of a large smiling jack-o-lantern.  All day long passengers felt compelled to tell me that Halloween was a pagan holiday, and that they would pray for my soul.  While I just put on a smile and nodded, inside I was thinking -- "it's a pumpkin, for pete's sake, not a statement of my belief system." 
I was just trying to loosen up and have a little fun.  But I won't ever do it again.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I also wear a heart for Valentine's Day, a shamrock for St. Patrick's Day, a flag for the Fourth of July, and a wreath at Christmas.)

Happy Halloween

Carve your very own pumpkin here.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

French Women Don't Get Fat

A jumpseat friend left me her copy of the book French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano.  On it, she left a note of further explanation:  "I know, I know, you're not fat.  But I also know that you love good food and wine, and thought that this would explain how you can eat and drink it all and still look so damn thin!"
I took the book home with me and started reading it this morning.  LOVE IT!  It talks all about eliminating guilt and deprivation.  Instead, you should enjoy and savor your food, getting the very most from those things that you love.  
The author offers several tips, and one of them fits my situation spot on.  She says to avoid airline food.  Because it doesn't taste good.  Duh!  Whenever possible I try to either bring my own food to eat during the flight, or I have something right before leaving to hold me over till I arrive.  Why waste the energy, let alone calories, on food that is barely edible when I can have something yummy and that I really enjoy instead!
I'm not very far into the book and have already copied down several recipes that I must try soon.  A big thank you goes out to my friend for passing on the book -- it fits exactly with my lifestyle and my relationship with food and wine.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

That Big, Heavy Cart in the Aisle

What is it about the beverage cart that seems to cause so much trouble for people?  I've written before about how difficult it can be for people to simply order a beverage, but after working the beverage cart my last couple of flights, it seems that there are additional problems for people. 
Whether it's stupidity, narcissism, or just inattention, the following are things that happened on my last flight.   You're experience will be more enjoyable if you heed this advice:
The cart weighs several hundred pounds.  It is hard for me to move it.  Please be patient as I try to maneuver.
When I am pushing the cart down the aisle, there is very little clearance on either side of it.  If you have your head, arms, shoulders, foot, or any part of your body sticking out into the aisle, we are going to run into you.  This should not be a surprise for you.  Stay clear, please.
We cannot push the cart over carry-on items that you have sticking out in the aisle.  Please move them.
As I am serving from the cart, please do not grab my butt as I walk by.  You will get my attention, true, but it won't be in a good way.  (Yes, this happens.) 
If you weigh 200 pounds, chances are you are not going to be able to squeeze by the beverage cart.  I weigh substantially less and I can barely do it.  Give us a minute and we'll try to get out of your way.
Do not reach up on the cart and take things off for yourself.  If you fail to follow this advice and tomato juice falls over you, do not think it's my fault.
Do not put garbage in the ice bucket. 
Do not come up so close behind me on the cart that when I bend down to get something that I butt into you.  I need a little bit of personal space in which to work.
Do not take liquor off the cart.  This is stealing.
And finally, as I hand you your beverage, do not hand me a dirty diaper!!!!  (I can't believe I actually have to list that one.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Airline Humor

I love it when you send me emails with links and information.  This bit of info comes courtesy of Fred. 
I don't know if it's true or not, and it really doesn't matter, it's just worth a giggle. 
"It has been reported that an employee for Ansett Australia (Airlines), who happened to have the last name of Gay, got on a plane using the company's 'Free Flight' offer for staff.  However, when Mr. Gay tried to take his seat, he found it being occupied by a fare paying passenger."  (more)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Q & A

Do you have a guy in every port?

(Laughing riotously) No, not hardly. I am fortunate, however, to have friends around the United States, and that includes many of my layover cities. It's always fun to meet up with them, go to local places, and to meet new friends through them. I'm just as comfortable being alone and on my own, though, as I am in a group.

Do you have to share your hotel room? Do you pay for it yourself?

No, we don't share hotel rooms. The company pays for single rooms for every crew members. Of course, what people do on their layover time, and whose hotel room it is in, is their own business.

I'd like to be a Fly Girl like you. Is anyone hiring?

While it's a tough time in the industry, many of the smaller, regional carriers are hiring. Only a few of the major airlines are, as they already have many people on furlough (laid off) status. There are a variety of online site where you can get updated information about flight attendant hiring. Or, for specific information, just drop me a private email and tell me what you're looking for. I'll try to connect you with someone who can help.

Did you ever want to be a pilot?


Where are you going on your next vacation?

Somewhere warm. The exact destination is still up in the air. (No pun intended.)

Do you want to meet up on a layover? Where are you flying? Have you met anyone from online?

I have met in person people who I originally got to know through online interaction. This is not something that I do lightly, as it involves huge issues concerning my personal safety and security, as well as coming clean with my real name. There are lots of hurdles to get over, and back ups to put in place, before I'd consider meeting up with anyone that I didn't know. I'm not out trolling for dates, so for me it's only about expanding my network of friends.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Gifts for the Traveler

For personal travel needs, or gifts for the traveler in your life, check out Flight 001.  Their website is easy to navigate, but their retail stores may even be more fun to visit.  They currently have three retail locations, located in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Manhattan.
You'll find lots of luggage, packing bags, gadgets, and other travel accessories.
Just in case any of my family or friends are reading this post, Christmas is just around the corner (hint, hint).  Here are some things that I'm putting on my wish list
The Airline Book , which celebrates the history and culture of air travel, would make a great coffee table book.   I can just imagine some of those photos from the "olden" days.  I also love the cute little silk sleep mask, would probably keep my hotel space a lot tidier with the cable yo-yo, and would be more organized in my packing with the traveler bag

Fare Shopping

A friend called today to ask how much a ticket would cost to fly from Boston to Chicago.  I told her that I had no idea, and she was shocked.  She evidently wasn't familiar with the Marry Me, Fly For Free concept.  Actually, this happens frequently.  People assume that I must not all the various fares between myriad cities, including those on airlines that I don't work for and cities that I don't fly to. 
On the occasion that I buy a full fare ticket for myself, I check the usual travel sites, just like everyone else.  The individual airline websites are getting better about listing lowest priced fares, and some guarantee that the price you get from them is the lowest.
Well known major travel sites that I check include:  Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Cheap Tickets, and Travelocity.  I have found fares on these sites to be fairly consistent with one another.
Other sites that I check, that are perhaps a little bit lesser known are:  Side Step (compares the fares of several different carriers), Which Budget  (a listing of the budget carriers that fly between various cities), and Fare Compare
Yes, I know there are lots of other sites, but these are the ones that I use because they've always worked well for me.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Breast Cancer Plane

A reader, JoeyC, passed along information regarding an aircraft from Delta's low cost off-shoot, Song, which has been painted to support Breast Cancer Awarness month.  Not the prettiest thing, but hey, it's for a good cause.  Take a look.
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Like, Not Love

Somehow this seems an appropriate little quiz for me today. Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous called, apologizing all over himself. (About damn time, I say!)

He's going to be traveling to my city next week and asked me if he could take me to dinner. I said yes, because, just like in The Godfather, "he made me an offer I couldn't refuse."

I'm not about to fall in love with him, but it probably qualifies as like.

How You Are In Love

You fall in love quickly and easily. And very often.

You tend to give more than take in relationships.

You tend to get very attached when you're with someone. You want to see your love all the time.

You love your partner unconditionally and don't try to make them change.

You stay in love for a long time, even if you aren't loved back. When you fall, you fall hard.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Magic Words: Please & Thank You

Manners at 40,000 feet:
Me:  Can I get you something to drink?
5 year old:  Orange juice, please.
8 year old:  Me, too.
Mom:  That's not the way we taught to you talk.
8 year old:  I'd like orange juice, too, please.
Me:  (Smiling as I'm pouring the juice).  Here you go, kids. 
Mom:  (after a brief pause)  What do you say?
5 year old & 8 year old:  (in unison)  Thank you!
Me:  You are quite welcome!  And what can I get for you, ma'am?
Mom:  Gimme a coke.
Me:  Here you are.  (Long, long pause)  And you are welcome, too!
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Friday, October 21, 2005


I've spent the last couple of days working with idiots.  Nice, friendly, college-educated people, but idiots nonetheless.
While I recognize that my job isn't rocket science, it does require reasonably good interpersonal skills, a modicum of self-initiative, and lots of common sense.
While there are occasional flight responsibilities that occur only on specific flights (interntional procedures only on interntional flights, the use of airstairs at airports where a jetway is malfunctioning, seating restrictions for light load situations, etc.), there are typical responsibilities that occur with every flight, every single take off and every single landing.  Which is why it is so surprising to me to be flying with someone who doesn't know what to do -- after several years of flying.
Last night, descending into our layover city, a co-worker stood in the back galley chatting with me while I attempted to close our the final paperwork of the flight.  Let's see, I was closing galley bins, doing paper, cleaning up the galley, and she was. . . standing there doing nothing.  I finally asked her to close bins and drawers on the side of the galley she was standing on.  She just looked at me with a dazed look, and asked again what it was that I wanted her to do.
At this point I just kicked into high gear and did it myself.  Not the preferred choice, I realize, but there was no time to explain what needed to be done.  We were going to land soon.  I asked how long she had been flying, figuring that she must be new.  She said six years.  SIX YEARS and you don't know how to secure the galley for landing? 
Sometimes I work with idiots.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Retro Uniforms

Everything old is new again. . . .  Well, I certainly hope not!
After taking a look at this history of flight attendant uniforms, I can tell you that the retro look has no appeal to me.
I'm much more comfortable with the professional look of today's flight attendants than the sex-kitten look of yesterday.  At least onboard the aircraft that is. . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Just in case you may have missed this detail, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Here are two easy things that you can do this month to help be a part of the cure:
The National Breast Cancer Foundation provides good information about signs and symptoms, early detection, current research, and also debunks some of the myths about cancer.  One woman in seven either has or will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.  This means that we all know someone who has faced this disease.  Please take a few minutes to read up on what you can do to help.
Over at the Breast Cancer Site, a campaign is under way to help fund mammograms for women who can't afford them.  Mammograms are the easiest form of detection for breast cancer, and an early detection increases the likelihood of surviving the disease.  You click on a button on their site to help fund this project.  You can click once each day (hey -- put it on your tool bar, it only takes a minute), and donations are tripled during the month of October.
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Monday, October 17, 2005

Hotel Internet Charges Revisited

A few days ago, I wrote about an article in the New York Times which cited increased hostility among hotel guests being hit with additional internet charges. You can read the article and accompanying comments here.

One of the comments came from Luke Mellors of the Dorchester Hotel in London. He was one of the individuals interviewed in the original NYT article, and I thank him for weighing in on the other side of this debate, and appreciate his willingness to explain his position. While I agree with him on some concepts, there is still much to respectfully disagree on.

First of all, Mr. Mellors is dead-on right when he says that it's all about value. Whatever it is we are purchasing, for whatever price, we expect value for our expenditure. Our expectations are different when we spend $100 than when we spend $500, but regardless of our price point we still expect value.

I have never been to the Dorchester, but understand that it is quite a lovely hotel. Mr. Mellor's is correct in that there is a cost in providing and maintaining internet access, and that it is reasonable to pass that cost on to your clientele. I do, however, take issue with Mr. Mellor's assertion that it is unfair to pass that cost on to the majority of hotel guests who he claims neither want nor need that service. The concept of choosing amenities and then passing the cost onto the hotel guest is a long established principle in the hospitality business. I don't want, nor need, the hotel mini-bar in my room. In fact, I know very few people who actually use it. Yet, the hotel has determined that it is an amenity that they wish to provide, and pass the attendant costs on to its guest. I feel the same way about the swimming pool, and quite frequently the television as well.

It's not a matter of unfairness at all. It's a matter of the hotel determining which amenities are important to provide and then amortizing the cost of that amenity into its rate structure. In this instance, it's a mattering of deciding that providing internet access to hotel guests at no additional fee important. The Dorchester says that this is not an important fee-free amenity to provide to guests. Which would be fine, except that this determination is based on the opinion that less than 50% of hotel guests use the internet service. This cannot be viewed as supporting the position that less that 50% of guests wish that this service was provided. On the contrary, it merely establishes that less than 50% of the Dorchester's guests are willing to pay the approximately $33 (U.S.) daily fee for internet access.

Mr. Mellors next brags about the hotel's E-Butler service, which, I might add, sounds mighty fine. He says that while the hotel has chosen to charge for internet service, they provide this free E-Butler service to ensure that guest technology needs are met. FREE? This is not a free service. I thought that we had already established that there are no free services. It's all passed on to the consumer in some way, shape or form, either in the daily cost of internet services, or in an increased room charge. So please don't insult me by bragging about this free service. And while we're at it, why is it fair for me to pay an increased room charge for idiots who don't know how to configure their laptop. Especially, and this is using the hotel's logic, less than 50% of guests want internet services, and one cannot only imagine an even smaller percentage of guests need the services of an E-Butler. (NOTE: It sounds like a great idea for a conference or event, but I find it strains credibility for the hotel to pass on the cost for a service such as this to all guests.)

I think what we are seeing, on an increasing basis, is business travelers who want to know what the bottom line will be for their hotel stay. They don't want to be hit with all sorts of add-on charges. I think everyone realizes that their is no such thing as a free lunch, but is it to much to ask for a hotel that markets itself as a business hotel, to include business amenities as part of the standard room rate. I don't think that's to much to ask, and from what occupancies rates are showing, there are a whole lot of people staying at hotels that agree with the concept.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

My Space is Not Your Space

I'm back home after a couple of tough days of flying.  I'm still shaking my head at the cheekiness of passengers.
On my last flight, while I was in the aisle serving beverages, I noticed a woman in the aft galley.  When I first looked back, I saw her sitting on my jumpseat.  I shouldn't have to tell anyone that this is a big no-no, but evidently some people still don't get it.  They think it's perfect reasonable to sit in a crew member's seat.  In addition to the obvious safety and security issues, this is the equivalent me going into your office, sitting in the chair behind your desk, and putting my feet up.  I wouldn't do it!  And neither should you!
I walked back to the galley, and politely explained to this woman that she was not permitted to sit on my jumpseat, and asked her to return to her seat.  She said that she needed to stretch a bit (so, I ask myself, why was she sitting?), but would be fine.  I went back to the cart and continued serving.
A few minutes later, I glanced back.  Now, this woman was standing in the gallley, opening drawers and cubby holes, and looking through stuff.  Now I was incensed.  I don't go to your office and rifle through your desk and files.  I respect your work space and privacy.  Is it too much for me to ask that you do the same for me?
Apparently, this was a burdensome request, because this woman just didn't get it.  She was incensed.  I insisted that she return to her seat, telling her she was not permitted to dig through the galley supplies.  I'm still shaking my head wondering why I even have to tell anyone that.  She look at me with disbelief, asserting that she had paid thus-and-so for her ticket and she was permitted to do whatever she want.  HUH?  You buy a ticket and then get carte blanche to do whatever you want to do on the airplane.  I DON'T THINK SO!
It took every ounce of customer service and people skills that I had to get this woman out of my space, and back into her seat, without causing a scene.  She was unhappy for the remainder of the flight.  I didn't care.
Yes, I know I'm ranting, but sometimes I get so sick of seeing this "it's all about me" attitude on the plane.

Halloween Candy

I've been busy flying, and delays and other mishaps have me on a schedule producing an altered state. Glad to be back rested up and ready to get things back to normal.

Looking at the calendar, along with the advertisements in the Sunday paper, I realize that Halloween is the end of the month. Where did the year go? (And why am I asking questions like that when I used to laugh at my mom and dad for asking the same thing when I was a kid?)

In the Halloween spirit, I ask: What kind of candy are you? Please leave the answers in a comment or email me directly.

Gummy Bears

You may be smooshie and taste unnatural, but you're so darn cute.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thanks to Jennifer Garrett

A very big THANKS to Jennifer Garrett  for featuring this blog as part of her effort to highlight 100 blogs which she disovers, one a day for 100 days.  I've been following her list and have discovered quite a few writers who really knock my socks off.  You might want to check it out as well.
Here's what she had to say about me:
Come fly with me
Sure, we've had writers. A lot of writers. One minister. A few nut jobs. And some more writers. But have we had a flight attendant? I think not. Today, we're flying the friendly skies with Yu Hu Stewardess. Sometimes, this blogging thing is so much fun. Because she's got a sense of humor about her job. And there are sweet perks, the most obvious of which is the great traveling experience. But this fly girl doesn't just hit the highlights; she immerses herself in a place: "I walked the main streets, poking my head into the shops and galleries. I wandered up and down the side streets, doing some people watching and stopping to check out information on some residential vacancies. Although by myself, I felt neither fear, nor reluctance, in immersing myself in the tastes, smells, and feel of the place. I didn’t want to be a visitor to the neighborhood; I wanted to be a part of it."

Any questions? Just ask.

Air Rage

While reading online this morning, I came across Two Edged Sword, written by Lee, a pastor from South Dakota.  He describes a couple of adventures in traveling that he experienced, while on vacation, in a post titled Air Rage.
I am including his post, in its entirety, here.  I regret that he had these experiences while on his vacation.  Unfortunately they are all too common.  I also regret that flight attendants have to put up with the every single day they go to work. 

Air Rage


I am currently on vacation, and that is why this page has not had any updates recently, but I thought I should take a few seconds to comment on the recent Air Rage epidemic. Air Rage of course is Road Rage for those in air travel.
I recently flew a series of flights from Bismarck, ND to Knoxville, TN and witnessed at least two such events myself. One incident had a stewardess spend no less than 3 minutes arguing with a passenger to return his seat to an upright position for landing. It is a standard rule to straighten your seat back when the plane is about to land, but this passenger would not comply. They argued rather loudly for an extended period of time, and I did not get to see who won. The reason, for those of you who are wondering, that one must return the seat to an upright position is because if the plane crashes, the seat my block those in the rows behind you from being able to exit quickly.

The second incident involved my spilling a drink. I spilt my coke, and the lady next to me and I received the lion’s share of the drink. We dried off as best we could and the seat as well, but apparently some dripped in-between the seats and onto the floor. This angered the passenger behind me because his carry-on item received a few drops of coke. I did not immediately notice his anger, but it was brought to my attention later. I apologized while the plane taxied to gate, and he refused to accept my apology. Only after his wife pleaded with him and repeatedly told me it is okay, did I even get anything remotely related to an acceptance of my apology.

A shocking third incident occurred a week later when my 80 year old grandmother flew from Jackson, MS to Knoxville, TN and a fellow passenger took her seat. My grandmother was in row 3, near the front on the aisle, and in need of making a quick connection. Her plane was already 50 minutes late. Some man who had a seat in the back, row 12 next to the window, took her seat, and did not let her sit down when confronted. His reason? He had to get off the plane quickly, and did not want to wait. My grandmother eventually took his seat in the back. Yet, the stewardess found out, and tried to make the man move, and he still would not relinquish his stolen seat.

The only possible explanation for such amazing acts of selfishness, and rudeness is Air Rage. Perhaps it is transmitted like the Bird Flu, but no matter what it appears to be everywhere. I will be flying home soon, and I am sure to run into more.

Until then let everyone be warned. If you are flying the biggest trouble you will probably face is from someone next to you.


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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Luxury Travel Auction Site

Gridskipper posts about this luxury travel auction site.  Not many flight attendants can afford this type of luxury on a regular basis, but it's worth considering for a special occasion. 

When I last looked, no one had yet bid for this particular package.  Maybe it was because of all the restrictions.  Travel auctions could be so much fun if not for those pesky little restrictions.

Flights: Luxury Link

Luxury Link is an upscale travel broker that happens to specialize in high-priced auctions as well. For example, here's an auction for two nights in an "Urban Suite" at the W New York Court. The retail value is listed at $1,600, which is actually pretty accurate (the W currently offers that suite for $699 per night). Minimum bid is $825, so you could get it for much, much less than otherwise; the auction expires October 13, and only good for stays January 2 to March 31, 2006. Offerings in individual cities are relatively slim outside of major markets like New York (only one auction in Las Vegas?), but if you're flexible enough to hunt around and have the cash to play, your holiday could go from merely grand to super-posh. The fixed-price listings on Luxury Link are also pretty choice, though somehow not as tingly as the auctions.


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Back Up Flights for a Small Fee

Gridskipper reports that American Airlines has announced a sideline service that allows you to hedge your bet on booking a flight.

Flights: Airfare Backups
American Airlines is now offering an innaresting new sideline service. For a $25 fee, you may reserve another seat within three hours of any fare you've already purchased. This gives you the flexibility to depart earlier or later than originally planned without having to pay the higher change fees, and it also gives you leverage in case of flight cancellations or overbookings during high-traffic periods. Seems like a no-brainer in retrospect, and should provide a tidy little extra revenue stream for the airline.

I’m really trying to figure out who thought this was a good idea, and how it’s going to help travelers. Can it be that I’m the only one thinking this is going to exacerbate an already difficult situation?

The number of available fares on any one particular flight is already cumbersome and difficult to understand. Are you ever able to book that super low fare when you really want to travel? It seems like every person pays a different price for their ticket.

The information about the program said that the service is available on all fares, if there are eligible seats on the flight. So I guest the first question is just how many of these sideline fares are going to be available on any given flight?

And what is this going to do to the practice of overbooking? If you are reserving a seat on three different flights (the one you want to travel on, one three hours earlier, and one three hours later), you are taking at least two seats out of inventory that are never going to be used. Those are two seats that someone else could be purchasing at a reasonable cost. Now that the limited inventory is all that is available, the pricing goes up. The basic laws of supply and demand at work in the airline industry, but in this case, it’s an artificial inventory level.

And isn’t overbooking what leads to all the problems with getting on your originally scheduled flight during peak travel times anyway? So the airlines will charge you a little extra so that they can continue to cause problems for you anyway.

I know that airlines are looking at creative ways to increase their revenue without raising ticket prices. While being upfront and raising fares $5 or $10 may be difficult, at least it’s honest. This backdoor way of increasing ticket prices (by artificially decreasing inventory of low-priced seats) just seems dishonest.

Time Zones

I just committed the cardinal layover sin: I forgot about the time zone that I was in when picking up the phone to call a friend in a different time zone.

I was up having coffee, reading the paper, and organizing my day. It was early, but not terribly early. I read a very funny article and just had to call a friend to talk about it.

Oooooooops. I’m currently in the Eastern time zone. She isn’t. I was wide awake and ready to chat. She was sound asleep and wanted to stay that way.

My bad.

I need to think about my time zones more often. It's not difficult here in the continental U.S., but when I travel out of the country, or call friends who are out of the country, I need to be sure to check my
time zones.

But this morning, I really did have something important to talk about!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hotel Internet Fees

I hate it when our layover hotel doesn’t have free internet access! Fortunately, my hotel tonight has reasonably fast wi-fi.

From the New York Times
October 11, 2005
Resentment Flares Over Fees for Internet Access at Hotels
A COUPLE of weekends ago, I stayed at a Hyatt Regency in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while attending a trade show. Cost for the room for two nights: $411.26. Added cost for high-speed Internet service: $12.95 a day.

O.K., a friendly "customer satisfaction" person at the front desk removed the Internet charge after I called down to complain about that and a few other things. But $12.95, when most of us resent paying even the usual $9.95?

Out in Wisconsin, Tom Hill sympathized with me about being hit for Internet service at four-star hotels when you can get it free at lower-priced competitors, not to mention a growing number of public places and, for that matter - as I noticed on my way home from the trade show - the entire Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

"I just won't pay for it," Mr. Hill said in a phone conversation. Mr. Hill, a former real estate investor, is an author and motivational speaker who spends at least 150 nights a year in a hotel. But he was not in his room when I called, even though he was on the road. Instead, he was ensconced with his laptop at a Panera Bread bakery-cafe in Milwaukee. "You get free Wi-Fi at Panera," he said. "In some cities, it's my office away from home. Hotels charging 10 bucks for the Internet? We need to make this an issue."

Evidently, it is one, judging from the heavy e-mail response to a column on the subject two weeks ago. The backlash against charging for Internet access, whether hard-wired or Wi-Fi, has been building for years, especially among younger business travelers who have been accustomed to free high-speed Internet access since college.

"Hotels do not charge guests for electricity and light bulbs," Jonathan B. Spira, the chief executive of the research company Basex, wrote last year in a survey titled "Romancing the Road Warrior: The Case for Free Internet Access." Most business travelers, he said, "consider high-speed connectivity a basic necessity. Shouldn't that necessity be included in the cost of the room?"

Some readers, like Tom Nobles, have found ways to avoid hotel charges and tap into free Wi-Fi. Recently, after brooding about paying Internet access in a four-star Atlanta hotel, Mr. Nobles found that he could get a free Wi-Fi signal on a trip to Chattanooga, Tenn.

"I sat in the parking lot of the Wingate Inn and did my work on my laptop; also in the parking lot of a Panera Bread," he wrote.

Wingate Inns, a unit of the Cendant Hotel Group, was among the earliest budget chains to promote free Internet service. Rich Roberts, a Cendant spokesman, noted that Wingate also offers a menu of other services that business travelers look for, like free local phone calls and 24-hour business centers that do not charge for a printout or a photocopy.

"If we can bundle these services into the rate of a midpriced chain, you would think the upscale and luxury chains could do the same," he said.

Typically, you can log on free in midlevel brands like Hilton's Garden Inn, Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites, and Marriott's Courtyard, Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn properties. Internet charges are most prevalent at four-star and five-star luxury hotels, here and abroad.

"My son, who is en route home from Europe as we speak, said they charged $29 at some place for his Internet connection," said Sally Traidman, who admits to having occasionally "walked over to a Marriott Courtyard lobby" for free Wi-Fi use when faced with a hotel charge.

"The international hotels are awful at times," said Phillip H. Stevens Jr., who recently paid more than $30 a night for access at a major hotel in Cairo. On the other hand, some international hotels actually get it, he added. "The Hyatt Regency in Amman, Jordan: beautiful hotel, terrific service - and free high-speed Internet."

Luke Mellors, the technology director at one of the world's most stylish hotels, the Dorchester in London, said there was another side to this. The Dorchester, he said, charges £18.50 (about $33) a day for high-speed Internet service. Providing it free would entail a rise in room rates, he said, but only 35 percent of the guests use the Internet. "We don't want to penalize the majority for the needs of the minority," he said.

Eric D. Horodas, the president of Greystone Hospitality, a San Francisco hotel company, was not buying that. "I am very annoyed when I check into a high-end hotel and find I have to pay extra to connect to the Internet," he said. Business travelers, he said, should "demand complimentary Internet access."

Mr. Horodas's company owns and operates five hotels in California. Four are independent boutique hotels and the other is a Best Western franchise. And yes, the Wi-Fi is free and has been for years.


Don't Ever Argue With a Flight Attendant

Rule No. 1: Don't Ever Argue With A Flight Attendant
Washington Post
October 9, 2005

Margot Romary will never argue with a flight attendant again.

When she boarded her US Airways Express flight from Portland, Maine, to Philadelphia on Sept. 6, a flight attendant asked her to store a small bag containing her jewelry and other valuables in the overhead bin or under her seat. Romary refused. She normally kept the bag strapped across her chest, even on other flights, she insisted. But the flight attendant was adamant: Store the bag, Romary was told. Finally, a US Airways gate agent and the plane's captain appeared in the cabin to intervene.

Romary lost the argument: Federal Aviation Administration rules require that all carry-on bags be stowed in the overhead bin or under the seat. Romary agreed to store the bag under her seat.

But it was too late.

The flight attendant informed the plane's captain that she felt "threatened" by Romary and wanted her off the flight. So Romary was escorted off and was offered a seat on the next available flight, which was the following morning.

"This was so unjust. No one said that, 'If you don't comply, I'm going to eject you from the flight,'" Romary, an Oakton, Va., information technologist, said. "There was no warning. Nothing."

Beware: Follow the requests of your flight attendants or be prepared to suffer the consequences. And don't expect a warning. Airlines side with their flight attendants in any dispute.

The repercussions for getting the boot can be severe. Some airlines, such as American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, keep their own lists of ejected passengers, who are in some cases barred from future flights. Most of the prohibited passengers were kicked off a flight because of verbal or physical abuse of a crew member or another passenger. How long they're not permitted aboard depends on the severity of the offense, said American spokesman Tim Smith. He added that a passenger can be permanently barred from flying on the carrier.

US Airways spokesman Carlo Bertolini says Romary was not barred from future flights, adding she was welcome to fly on the carrier again. Bertolini declined to comment on the specifics of Romary's case.

The stress level among flight attendants has only increased in the past four years, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and waves of job, benefit and pension cuts. Many flight attendants work for financially struggling carriers and must perform tasks that used to be handled by two or three workers.

"Every flight attendant in this country is more on edge than they were before 9/11," said Patricia Friend, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, the nation's largest flight attendant union.

That means some flight attendants are less willing to engage in verbal sparring matches with passengers.

Friend said flight attendants were more inclined to weed out the noncompliant passenger before a flight takes off for fear that the traveler would become a problem during flight. "If a passenger demonstrates an unwillingness to comply with our request for them to obey the rules before we even take off, then we know that we are potentially going to have difficulty with that person through the entire flight," Friend said.

The best advice for passengers who have to argue their point is keep it civil and wait until you arrive at your destination.

Romary, who is scheduled to fly on US Airways to New Zealand in coming months, said she will no longer fly with a carry-on bag to avoid another incident. "I'm just going to carry my handbag; that's it," she said.

Monday, October 10, 2005

U.S. Geography

Traveling is my business, and I pride myself on my knowledge of geography. OK, some of the countries in the middle of Africa confuse me, but I know my fifty states. Evidently I'd been bragging a bit, because a co-worker sent me this geography game that she saw posted on Joe Schmidt's site.

At first I thought that it would be a piece of cake, but I was wrong. There are no aids to assist you in the placement of the states, just a giant outline of the U.S. My first state was Kansas. Now, I know where Kansas is, but placing it into a completely blank outline was a bit more daunting that might have been expected. I was 47 miles off. I didn't think that was all that bad (the mid-west is pretty expansive), but it wasn't a good way to start off my stats.

I only tried the game once, and here's my
score, so you can try it yourself and then compare. Not too bad for a first effort, but I will have to make a return visit to see if I can improve. If you really want to show off, leave your score in the comments.

Test your geography skills with "Place the State"

Being the geography buff that I am, I couldn't resist testing my skills with the Place the State game. The concept is simple, you are randomly given a U.S. state which you must place in it's exact location on the map. Your score is calculated by the percentage of states correctly placed. In the event you misplace a state, the average distance you are off will be displayed on the screen. The game ends when all 50 states have been correctly placed.

Expiration Date

Sometimes, when I'm on the go as much as I am, I tend to forget when I should throw something away. This post from Simple Human provides a good reference for both food and household items. Since I keep doubles of many products, one for home and another for my suitcase, I need to do some re-thinking about how I rotate some common items.

Death, Taxes & Nailpolish Remover
Did you know that nailpolish remover lasts forever but that bottle of bleach in your laundry room expires after 3-6 months? has a nice list of household item life expectancies. The site, aimed at recent college grads, has a range of other useful information from 401Ks to losing weight. For a more detailed reference of when to toss your ketchup, this list of expiration dates for 77 household goods from Real Simple magazine even has a print button for easy filing.

Happy Thanksgiving/Columbus Day

To all my friends in Canada, today I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. We may celebrate it on different days, but the thought is still the same: we all have many things to be thankful for.

To all my friends here in the United States: a very happy Columbus Day. I know the holiday has come under much criticism of late, but, for many of you, it’s still a three-day weekend. And that’s always something to celebrate.

I’m back flying tomorrow, and looking forward to it after a week and a half off. Adventure lies ahead.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Which Peanuts Character Are You?

Since it's the weekend, and I'm not flying, I had time to engage in some silly little on-line quizzes. This is one of my favorites, having been a long time Peanuts fan. Interestingly enough, it's a pretty accurate assessment of who I am.

Who are you?

You are Franklin!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


The information that I’ve researched regarding blog readership all points to readership numbers going down over the weekend. There’s been much speculation about why this is true. One prevalent reason postulates that during the traditional work week people access their computers more, while leaving their weekends free for family and recreational pursuits. I translate this to mean that people are spending work time surfing the blog sites that are of interest to them.

I decided to take advantage of my weekend time to not only stay out of the rain, but to revamp some of the layout on this site as well. It’s nothing dramatic, just an attempt to do some clean up to make navigation easier.

I’m now listing in the sidebar information about what I’m reading, listening to, and watching. It will be much easier to keep this current without having to do a new post each time I finish a book or movie. I’ve also eliminated the large ads from Amazon, leaving only the search box.

I've gotten better about linking, and finally – I figured out how to list some of the blogs that I follow regularly. I haven’t gotten every one of them entered yet, but as I read them, I’ll add them to the list. They represent a variety of interests, because. . . , well. . . , because I have an eclectic list of interests. If you come across something that I might like, send me the info. If I follow it for a few weeks, and still love it, I’ll add it to the list.

Thanks to all of you who have emailed to tell me what you like, and don’t like, about my blog. I really appreciate those comment coming as an email, rather than clogging up the comments.

I hope more of you will take a moment to sign the guest book. It's amazing to discover where everyone is in this big world of ours.

Please continue to keep my on my toes. I enjoy what I do, and am glad that you do, too.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Daily Candy

Daily Candy is a site providing information on a variety of cities that I am in on a fairly regular basis. It lists, by city, information about fashion, food and drink, beauty, arts and culture, fun, services, and travel. I recommend that you check out their website, or subscribe to your favorite city edition.

Today’s edition provided this humorous look at travel lexicon.


Friends frequently email me flight attendant jokes, usually adding at the beginning a disclaimer that says, hope you aren’t offended.

Hey -- I have a sense of humor and can laugh at these jokes, if they’re funny that is. I’m not offended by blonde jokes either, even though I’m blonde. I don’t take myself that seriously, and neither should you.

Here are a couple of my current favorites:

It was mealtime on a small airline and the stewardess asked the passenger if he would like dinner. "What are my choices?" he asked. She replied, "Yes or No."

A blonde was speeding in a 35 mile per hour zone when a local police officer pulled her over and walked up to the car. The officer also happened to be a blonde and she asked for the blonde's driver's license.

The driver searched frantically in her purse for a while and finally said to the blonde policewoman, "What does a driver's license look like?" Irritated, the blonde cop said, "You dummy, it's got your picture on it!"

The blonde driver frantically searched her purse again and found a small, rectangular mirror down at the bottom. She held it up to her face and said, "Aha! This must be my driver's license" and handed it to the blonde policewoman.

The blonde cop looked in the mirror, handed it back to the driver and said, "You're free to go. And, if I had known you were a police officer too, we could have avoided all of this."

An airline captain was breaking in a very pretty new blonde stewardess. The trip they were flying had a layover in another city, so upon their arrival, the captain showed the stewardess the best place for airline personnel to eat, shop and work out.

The next morning as the crew gathered to leave for the airport, the captain noticed the new stewardess was missing. He knew which room she was in at the hotel and called her up wondering what happened to her. She answered the phone, sobbing, and said she couldn't get out of her room."You can't get out of your room?" the captain asked, "Why not?"

The stewardess replied, "There are only three doors in here,” she cried, “one is the bathroom, one is the closet, and one has a sign on it that says "Do Not Disturb!”

Friday, October 07, 2005

A Girl Day

Today I’m resting up from my travels, and nursing a bit of a bruised ego. A perfect day to spend with some girlfriends:

What I’m Reading: The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. Real chick-lit, heavy on the lit. Loved her debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees.

What I’m Listening to: Afterglow by Sarah McLachlan.

What I’m Watching: Maze, a romantic comedy starring Rob Morrow and Laura Linney. You’ve just got to know that it will have a happy ending.


I’m a sucker for stuff like this.

Sharelle at I Guess We’ll Just Have to Adjust had this great link that let’s you design your own Picasso artwork. I couldn’t wait to check it out, indulging my inner artiste!

Here’s my masterpiece. Look out MOMA, here I come.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

What I've Learned

I’ve learned a lot during this vacation trip. Some of it was good, some bad, but it’s all stuff that I want to know earlier in a relationship rather than later.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they travel. Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous is fairly easy going about travel matters. Of course, it helps that he has enough money to make sure things happen on his schedule. However, even when a few things went askew (getting temporary lost and a delay in getting the rental car), he was cheerful and easy going, never taking it out on the people around him.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat those in the service industry. In this area, Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous scores a perfect 10. He is polite to waitstaff, hotel maids, taxi drivers, and pool attendants. And I already knew that he was polite to flight attendants.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they relax. Unfortunately, this is where we hit a few snags. Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous had his phone headset on nearly the whole time, and seemed unable to separate from his Blackberry. Bad. Very bad. Sometimes you just have to leave the office at home and RELAX.

You can tell a lot about a person by their friends. This quickly became the most troubling aspect of a burgeoning relationship. While I readily accept that I was the newcomer to the group, there was some behavior that was simply intolerable. And Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous’ reaction to it, and how he did (or actually didn’t handle it), makes me realize that there is more flash than substance to him. While the departures were being organized this morning, I had an opportunity to spend some quiet time talking with Charlie. Charlie and Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous have been friends for a number of years, and to hear them talk, they’d take a bullet for one another. During our conversation, Charlie made a pass at me. Now, in my lifetime this has happened on an occasion or two, but this morning it was more of a “take off your clothes and I’ll do you right here” kind of moment. Once rebuffed, he didn’t back off and forced the issue until I had to walk away, causing a tiny bit of a scene. When I told Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous about it (I hadn’t want to say anything, but someone else brought it up first), he merely shrugged and implied that I had either been the cause of it or misunderstood. I didn’t expect him to take my side over Charlie’s (those battles never resolve anything), but I did expect a little more support. I guess he’s right: I just don’t fit in very well with his friends.

You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle a good situation gone bad. I’d like to think that while traveling home Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous will realize what a jerk he’s been and call me to straighten things out. But, that’s not going to happen. So, this is one girl who’ll be moving on from this bad situation.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Palm Trees and Blue Skies

Spent most of today looking at this view: blue sky and palm trees. Back to reality tomorrow.

Vacations are good tests of relationships, whether friends or love interests. You learn a lot about someone when you see how they handle the ups and downs of travel. Some people roll with the punches, while others get spun out over the littlest change in plans.

This time away has given me ample opportunity to see both types. I do much better with those who can live with a little flexibility.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Marco Polo

Pool time is great!

Some of the group spent most of the time in the pool playing Marco Polo. You remember that hide and seek game where one person closes his eyes and calls “Marco” and everyone else responds “Polo.”

I watched from my lounge chair, where I spent most of the day reading my book and looking up at the palm trees.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Travel Personalities

There are different personality types when it comes to traveling. Sometimes your best friend, or your guy, can be the most wonderful person in the world, but you just shouldn’t travel together. I’m fortunate in that my best friend is the perfect companion for traveling, but I’m beginning to think that Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous and his group of friends are not really my cup of tea when it comes to travel.

There seems to be a couple of different personality types emerging:

The Control Freak - Loves to experience the most out of every travel experience, as long as he’s calling the shots. He will organize every detail, brook no argument or difference of opinion, and everyone will have a great time -- as long as they are doing exactly what he wants to do. Since I frequently just like to go off by myself and have some alone time, the Control Freak and I do not get along. Alone time is not on his schedule.

The Cruise Director - Every minute of every day is scheduled with an activity that everyone must participate in, or experience the pout of her hurt feelings. While it’s always nice to have someone in your group who will step up and organize some of the details, it’s also nice to allow people some flexibility to take advantage of options that come up on the fly. In my job I live on a schedule, and during my time off, I really enjoy just being able to go with the flow.

The Naysayer - No matter what suggestion is made, her response is always the same: “Do you really want to do that?” I’d be perfectly comfortable answering, “Yes, I really want to do that, and if you don’t I’m okay with that, we’ll catch up later.” But the Naysayer would just as soon be a martyr to her cause, making everyone miserable during the course of an outing. Different people can like doing different things; just go do it.

The Jellyfish - Has no spine, no opinion, and generally speaking, has no fun. Ask her what she’s like to do and she answers, “whatever you want to do.” Puhleeze! Don’t you have an opinion on something???

The Cheapskate - No matter what it costs, it’s too much for him. He never picks up a round of drinks, which would be okay except that he doesn’t pay for his own drinks either. When you are with a group of people who are all gainfully employed and making decent money, it’s hard to understand how people continue to make excuses for this type of behavior.

I’m going to go have an icy, cold beer (Corona) by the pool and spend some time thinking about what my travel personality is like. Hopefully no one will join me -- I’m in need of my alone time.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Drinks anyone?

Every city has one. A restaurant that everyone knows has the strongest drinks in town. The place where one drink makes you giddy, and after two you can barely walk out the door. The place where the officer believes you when you say that you’ve only had two drinks. The place where we went for dinner tonight.

Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous and I had drinks and dinner at this place, and I finally, yes FINALLY, got to meet a few of his friends and their wives and/or girlfriends. I’m not sure where I fit in with all these people, but you know, after two drinks it just doesn’t matter.

I wisely decided to make no phone calls to friends back home (drunk dialing is so unattractive), and was fairly quiet throughout the evening. But, as Scarlett O’Hara said, tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Crimson & Clover

Just getting ready to head off for a weekend with Mr. Amazingly Gorgeous. This will be the weekend for the “you need to make me a priority in your life” speech. I can’t make time for him otherwise.

I had to run out to the bookstore and make sure I had lots of material to keep me occupied for the flight and for our beach time. Now, I’m all packed and ready to head out to the airport.

WHAT I’M READING: Rage by Jonathan Kellerman. I love his stuff, and this is his latest. Just started it, but so far it shows all the promise and suspense of his previous novels.

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO: The Very Best of Tommy James and the Shondells. I had them on a flight earlier this summer when they were on tour.

WHAT I’M WATCHING: Angels in America. I missed it when it was on television, and just finished up the first of two disks. WOW – this is powerful stuff.

What would you like to drink?

The beverage cart is that large, heavy item in the middle of the aisle when we are coming through the cabin pouring drinks. It weighs about 400 pounds, is difficult to maneuver, and usually takes two people operating it in order to get it to move in a straight line.

As you see it proceeding down the aisle, it shouldn’t take long to figure out that we will soon be getting to your row to take your beverage order. This is a cue to start thinking about what it is you want to drink, so that when we do ask you, you will be prepared to answer this question.

It’s an easy process. I ask you what you would like to drink. You answer. That should be the end of it, although a please, thank you, and you’re welcome are always a nice addition.

Here are some examples of how it usually goes, though:

Me: Would you like something to drink?
You: No. Just water. (Here’s a hint, water is something to drink, so say yes. When you say no, I’ve already moved on.)

Me: Would you like something to drink?
YOU: Soda. (If you don’t specify a flavor, I’ll assume that you want club soda. If you want a flavored soda, say so.)

Me: Would you like something to drink?
You: Tonic. (See above notes. Specify a flavor if you want one.)

Me: Would you like something to drink?
You: Coffee. (I move on to the next row, only to feel you tugging on my skirt.)
You: I want cream and sugar. (Then say so when you ordered your coffee; there’s not a little self-serve container on your tray table.)

Me: Would you like something to drink?
You: What do you have? (I list off the beverages available.)
You: Oh, well do you have root beer?
Me: No. (It wasn’t on the list that I just went through for you.)

Me: Would you like something to drink?
You: Tea, herbal, preferably caffeine-free peppermint.
Me: I’m sorry, ma’am, we only have black tea. Will that be okay?
You: What kind of airlines is this that doesn’t serve peppermint tea? (The kind that is trying to make a profit, and isn’t raising your ticket price thereby allowing you to travel for less than cost.)

Me: Would you like something to drink?
You: poy edb,vcja-[kb
Me: Excuse me, I wasn’t able to hear you.
You: 9tyghol’m;ryagdzyh
Me: I’m sorry, you’ll have to speak up, it’s very noisy on the plane and I can’t hear you.
You: I SAID I WANT WATER!!!! (Well, why didn’t you take your fingers out of your mouth and speak clearly the first time?)

Me: Would you like something to drink?
You: (Silence)
Me: Sir, would you like something to drink.
You: (Continued silence. I move on to the next passenger.)
You: (sarcastically) I’d like a drink, too, you know.
Me: Of course, sir, what would you like? (And next time, if you take off your damn head phones when you see me serving everyone else in your row, you will be able to quickly figure out that I’ve been trying to take your order for a couple minutes now!)

Do you see yourself in these examples?