Podcast #62 – Flying Green; Evolution of Connectivity; Return of the Travel Agent?

Recorded in the Newark Liberty Airport Marriott in scenic Newark, NJ. We cover a lot of ground in this episode — why business travel and Disney resorts don’t mix, some choices that can make our personal air travel a bit greener, my experience with Southwest Airline’s new Business Select program, and the reason I’ve finally given up on Hertz. We also talk about the atrophying of wired connections — the modem is gone; is Ethernet next? — and the importance of Starbucks to the frequent traveler’s work day. And finally, is bad airline service bringing back the need for traditional travel agents? Here’s a direct link to the podcast file.

[audio:travelcommons_62.mp3]


Here are the show notes from TravelCommons podcast #62:

  • Intro music — Warmth by Makkina
  • Recorded in room 959 of the Newark Liberty Airport Marriott
  • A 2-day conference in Disney World reminds me that it’s a great place for a family vacation, but a lousy place for business. No early check-in, no quiet place for a conference call — I definitely didn’t have a “magical day”.
  • Bridge Music — Indian Blossom by Ruben van Rompaey
  • Following Up

  • Revisiting Peter Rukavina’s question from T/C #61 on how to reduce the environmental impact of air travel
  • Virgin Atlantic’s biofuel test flight from London to Amsterdam received a lot of press — as it was meant to do — but biofuels are more about sustainability than reducing the carbon footprint of a plane flight.
  • Air France-KLM’s 2005-2006 Sustainable Development Report provides statistics on the reduction of hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions as a result of its fleet modernization program.
  • Three things an individual can do to reduce their in-flight carbon footprint — choose the flight with the most efficient plane, take a direct flight, and fly into a less-congested secondary airport
  • I liked my recent experience with Southwest Airline’s Business Select program. For last minute travel, it gets me a better seat than I can usually get on airlines with reserved seats.
  • Had yet another beat-up high-mileage car from Hertz — this time in Orlando. When compared to the brand new Lincoln Moutaineer I received from Avis in Nashville, I’ve decided to ditch Hertz for Avis.
  • Bridge Music — Afternoon in the Sun by John Williams
  • Evolution of Connectivity

  • After mistaking the modem port on my ThinkPad for the Ethernet port, I couldn’t remember the last time I used my modem
  • Apple’s new MacBook Air lacks an Ethernet port, depending completely on Wi-Fi. Is Ethernet going the way of the modem — at least on laptops?
  • For me, the big travel news wasn’t the Delta-Northwest or United-Continental merger dances, but the announcement that Starbucks is switching from its Wi-Fi partnership from T-Mobile to AT&T.
  • Starbucks has become a watering hole, some new millennium oasis for the web Bedouins — those of us working out of our “mobile offices”
  • Bridge Music — Arsenal is by The West Exit
  • Return of the Travel Agents?

  • In the Web 1.0 days, the travel agent was the classic example of an industry being “disintermediated” by the web
  • However, when dealing with delayed or canceled flights, it usually takes talking to a person to get you home or to get you a refund.
  • If you’re on a single-carrier ticket – especially a carrier where you have status – you’re usually OK going direct. However, multi-carrier tickets are best worked through a travel agent
  • I used to use Orbitz or Travelocity for these tickets, but trying to get hold anyone there live to sort through a problem was near impossible
  • Closing

  • Closing music — iTunes link to iconPictures of You by Evangeline
  • Bridge music from Magnatune
  • Feedback at comments@travelcommons.com, the comment board on podcastalley.com, or right here in the comments section below
  • Direct link to the show

Tags: travel podcast, travel, business travel, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, ThinkPad, greenhouse gases, tooth powder, Southwest Airlines, Disney World, Air France-KLM, Hertz, Avis, Starbucks, T-Mobile

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

5 Comments.

  1. I had to smile as you were recounting your experience at Disney World. It reminded me of a recent trip to the Gaylord Opryland at the same time as the Red Hat Society was staying there.

    His recounting of his recent experience reminded me of a trip late last year to the Gaylord Opryland for back to back conferences. At the same time I was there, they were hosting a meeting of the International Red Hat Society. While I’m sure this is a great organization (if you are over 50, female and in search of fun), it is not what I was looking forward to walking into upon my arrival. Hosting about 5000 Red Hats, the lobby was filled upon my arrival. As this is a resort hotel, rather than say a Marriott where I have status, I waited in line for about an hour while each of the ladies was asking similar questions about resort fees, and all the incidental charges on their bill. Upon finally getting to the counter, I too was informed my room was not ready (about noon), and I’d have to come back after 3PM. Trying to find a quiet place to work was as challenging for me as it was for Mark. I finally ended up in an employee only area where they stored Wheel Chairs.

    Upon finally getting a room, the fun continued as the resort is huge. The walk to the room is about 15 minutes with no traffic. When the halls and walkways are filled with vacationing people, traveling in clumps, it became a 25 minute obstacle course each time.

    Before I am cast as someone who has it out for Red Hats or vacationers in general, let me say that I think the Gaylord was the perfect hotel for their convention. It catered well to them, and from what I could see, all were having a marvelous time. What is painful is when business events are scheduled in the same facilities.

    Earlier I mentioned the resort fees. One of the “benefits” that Mark didn’t mention about staying at a hotel like Disney World or the Gaylord are the added resort fees to cover the ammenities that as a business traveler you have no intention of using. By the time I added resort fees, associated taxes, etc. the room rate ended up being about $40/night higher than the quoted rate.

    My plea to conference and event planners everywhere. Please please plan your events around hotels that understand business travel.

  2. Robert Fenerty (aka boberonicus)

    Hey Mark,

    You’re right about the TSA relaxing fluid restrictions. I keep waiting for them to confiscate my recently acquired 3.25 bottle of sunscreen. A secret thrill every time it passes through security unmolested.

    Are you considering moving to the new Lenovo X300? Probably not enough hard drive space for you.

    Also, have you tried tripit.com? I’m sure you know about this site. I now can’t live without it. Or my Venti Coffee Frappacino Light.

    Also, I’m in Schaumberg next week. Any Chicago visit evening suggestions? My only absolutes are Andy’s Jazz Club and a true Chicago-style hot dog.

  3. Further on the environmental thread, a posting today in Evan Sparks’s Aviation Policy Blog comments on the ruckus raised by environmental groups over an American Airlines flight from Chicago to London that carried only 5 passengers.

    The Friends of the Earth spokesman yells “Flying virtually empty planes is an obscene waste of fuel. Through no fault of their own , each passenger’s carbon footprint for this flight is about 45 times what it would have been if the plane had been full.” Of course, he forgets about the hundreds of passengers who would’ve been inconvenienced the next day if that 777 wasn’t in London to make the return trip to Chicago.

  4. Further (again) on our “flying green” thread, Dopplr, the web site that allows you to share travel plans among friends, announced at ETech that they’re launching a new feature to measure the carbon footprint of your travels.

  5. Bob –
    Sorry that I didn’t get back to you sooner. Here are a couple of dinner suggestions…

    When I’m in Schaumburg, I always go to Yu’s Mandarin for great Chinese food

    Down near Andy’s, try Frontera Grill for some of the best Mexican restaurant in the country

    For a Chicago dog, try one of the Portillo’s locations. There’s one out in Schaumburg. If you take a double dose of Lipitor, try the Italian Combo — an Italian sausage embedded in an Italian beef sandwich. Order it “dipped with hot peppers”, and you have a less-publicized, but no less real, Chicago meal.
    Regards,
    Mark