Thursday, September 28, 2006

Travesty of Modern Air Travel... I learned to stop worrying and start committing minor fraud against UAL.

I had a personal flight in the middle of a series of business flights a while back and so I decided to use my soon-to-expire 1,000 mile one-way upgrade certificate. Knowing that there would be many restrictions, I called a UAL agent to make sure that the flight I was poised to purchase would be eligible. The agent assured me that the certificate would be eligible and with his once, twice, three-times o' reassurance, I hung up politely and ordered the ticket online to get an extra frequent flyer mileage bonus.

As soon as I ordered the ticket online, I called a UAL agent again and asked them to apply the certificate. No go: I must apply it at the check-in counter. What? But then how can I reserve the upgrade request? You can reserve it by going on stand-by, which the check-in counter will put you in once they receive the request. But how do I request it? By reserving the request. Huh? Can I reserve my upgrade now? No, you must wait for check-in. BUT HOW WILL THEY KNOW THAT I WANT TO UPGRADE?! You must reserve the request! ARGH!

Turns out it was just a communications issue and I can request a reservation upgrade request (and put the ram in the ramalamadingdong) on the phone. I try to do that and am hit with the communicational equivalent of a loud "WRONG ANSWER" buzzer. No go. You need a full fair. But that's what I called earlier to check on! I hate UAL.

So I just go to the airport, check in, and ask for an upgrade at the gate. I'm put on standby and what do you know, right after Seating Section 3, I get a first class ticket for seat 2D. Now, the lesson is, know when to swindle UAL and that is right at the gate, not on the phone.

I should be happy right? Well not quite.

See, until the communist utopia comes (and it's NOT going to be a revolution no matter how hard and fast and cheap the proles want it), I like my bourgeois trappings so burn me at the stake later if necessary but for now, I'll take my Tea, Early Grey, Hot, in my Maybach thank you very much. And I do believe that air travel should be at least comfortable. Failing that spectacularly as most domestic economy class does, First Class, that last bastion of faux-aristocracy and supposed luxury, should remain an unassailable oasis of pampering and service.

Not so with United First (which if truth prevailed should be renamed United Last. ZING!). It might have been a fluke with my flight but no more silverware, no more salt and pepper shakers, no more HOT FOOD. It was a dinner flight for Iron Chef Morimoto's sake and the flight attendant, chipper though he might have been, didn't even know what kind of meat was in the sandwich he was serving which I swear had been brought out of a deep cryogenic stasis in an unsuccessful hurry. The word on the aisles (from passenger 1A) was that it was "smoked turkey upward inflection to indicate uncertainty?". Maybe. I would have understood if they were trying to get me back for using an upgrade ticket when I was not supposed to but EVERYONE in first class on that flight was treated equally[poorly].

One mitigating factor: At least the booze flowed freely. I helped this along by loudly declaring my need to slake my thirst with a White Russian and, upon overhearing me and becoming giddy with glee, 1C and 1D followed suit. No Kahlua but Starbucks coffee liquor did quite fine.

Touching down at my final destination though, I did marvel again, as I always do, the miracle of getting gigantic piece of metal to fly, safely, with people, luggage, and really crappy food on board. It's a trite thought but I always feel a tad inspired when I think about the complexity and immensity of the technology that all works together for a flight. It's really epic. And it is just too bad an experience of such a wonderous event leaves a nasty after taste in my mouth. Maybe it was the weird sauce on the smoked turkey...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Expert Advice

Starbucks is sued for withdrawing a coupon.

OK, but I like this part:

Legal experts do not think the case has much chance of winning.

This would imply that the lawyer taking on the case is not a legal expert. Riiiight.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Short Running

So I'm a bit of a running dork. I'm a runner wannabe but I'm not very good at running and it's not my top priority or anything. Still, i know about the different kinds of shoes there are and ailments such as ITBS and Planta Fasciitis. I like to think that I'm a runner and I make the appropriate gestures but, well, the results aren't always fantastic.

And what dork is complete without the outfit? My exercise pants were getting a bit annoying to run in (though I did train for and run a marathon in them so it's not like they're fatal) so I decided to get some real shorts.

Except, well, besides being real shorts they are real short.

I'm looking at this pair of running short and looking for the word "thong" somewhere on the label. Nope. Ah well. At least it's light. But then I notice the size. I'm a skinny lanky Asian guy so I usually wear small everything. Pants? Smallest waist size available please. T-shirt? Small. Shirts? Petite if you have them. And, of course, my running shorts say "S" for the US, the UK, Europe, both Yugo and Slavia, Botswana, and pretty much all countries and regions EXCEPT...

Duh duh duhn: Japan!

I really don't want to jump to conclusions or anything but those running shorts ARE very small. Even I think they're small. But if they are "medium" in Japan. My WORD. That's allI have to say about that.