Recorded in the TravelCommons studios outside of Chicago, back doing my thing to support the travel industry with lots of travel in January. We talk about some recent TSA observations, good and bad; my latest spin of the “travel roulette” wheel, trading the plane for a train in an East Coast snow storm; a look back at last year’s travel courtesy of Dopplr’s Personal Annual Report; and being saved by duct tape while flying the tatty skies of United. Here’s a direct link to the podcast file.

Here are the show notes from TravelCommons podcast #71:

  • Intro music — Warmth by Makkina
  • Recorded at the TravelCommons studios outside of Chicago
  • Back doing my thing to support the travel industry, visiting Washington DC, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, Stamford, CT, and Jackson, MI
  • Noticing a lot more passengers paying attention to the pre-flight safety demo since the US Air Hudson River splashdown
  • Bridge Music — Beneath the Skin by Jerry Berlongieri

Following Up

  • Belated shout-out to Tim Grubb of The Size of Life blog — “lifestyle news and reviews for the big and tall man”
  • Tim is doing a series of articles on “Flying the (Big & Tall) Friendly Skies”. The SeatGuru map he uses as an illustration points out the best coach seat for a big & tall man — the window seat on the second exit row of a United Airbus 319
  • The new security checkpoint for Philadelphia Airport‘s Terminal’s D and E replace a near-medieval set-up with a much better experience
  • Watched the TSA do a full body patdown on Cardinal Francis George, the 72-yr-old Catholic Archbishop of Chicago.  Couldn’t that screener’s time been used more productively checking out someone who could actually be a threat?
  • Lost a recent game of “travel roulette”. Moved from the Shuttle to Amtrak’s Acela Express to avoid delays from an East Coast snow storm. The train ended up 2½ hours late because of equipment problems caused by the snow.
  • Bridge Music — Hurt Me So I Can Walk Away by Michael Joy

Looking Back at Last Year’s Travel

  • Dopplr sent me a 2008 Personal Annual Report on my travel last year
  • Has some interesting factoids, such as my “personal velocity” in 2008 was the same as that of a squirrel
  • And that my 2008 carbon footprint was equivalent to 2.3 Hummers

  • Of course, they could have used, say a Mercedes Benz S-600 sedan, which gets worse mileage than a Hummer H3, but I guess chest-pounding about big gas-guzzling American SUVs is easier self-awareness about big gas-guzzling Euro sedans – especially when your company is based in Helsinki.
  • The factoid that grabbed my attention was this one – “In 2008, you spent 214 days at home; 152 days traveling”

Flying the Tatty Skies of United

  • My ORD-PHX flight was almost scuttled by a broken luggage bin door.
  • Those of us who spend a good bit of time flying United know that duct tape is not an uncommon sight. United is fraying around the edges.
  • United is the only major US airline to not have any current orders placed with any aircraft manufacturer
  • And the service has gotten a bit frayed around the edges. The 2008 American Customer Satisfaction Index has United ahead of only US Airways
  • Brett Snyder was at a travel industry conference last November where a United executive gave a talk titled Customer Experience and Flying: Not an Oxymoron and admitted that United would be “overstretching” if they tried to be as good as Singapore Air or Virgin Atlantic
  • Was refused entry to United’s London-Heathrow business class arrivals lounge because I was flying on an upgraded coach ticket, not a full-fare business class ticket
  • United’s employees continue to hold together their frayed company by reaching out to passengers


  • Closing music — iTunes link to iconPictures of You by Evangeline
  • Bridge music from Magnatune
  • Feedback at or right here in the comments section below
  • Direct link to the show

3 comments on “Podcast #71 – Winter Travel, Last Year’s Travel, Tatty United

  1. Tim Grubb says:


    Thanks for the huge shoutout on the latest show and I appreciate the tip on the United A319. As it turns out, Frontier uses this same configuration on their A319’s as well and I rely on them at CAK for speedy, uncrowded, direct flights to Denver. I’ve updated my first post of that series to reflect your tip and also posted a new article linking back here to TravelCommons.


  2. Your story about the “Don’t Pick up Hitchhikers” signs on the I-94 brought back memories of a road trip I took in 1990, and prompted me to blog:

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