Saturday, October 10, 2009

Modern Travel

I consider myself to be an experienced traveler, having traveled in excess of 1 million miles around the globe in my lifetime. I've never counted the hours spent in planes, but the hours spent in airports these days almost equate to those numbers. A veritable number of my life, no doubt.

Now why do I raise this matter you may well ask, dear Reader? Some recent newspaper articles have revealed some of the plans that some Airlines have for you and I. All Nippon Airways (ANA) in Japan have announced that travelers must use the 'facilities' before boarding the flight. The reason? It will reduce CO2 emissions by 5 million tons a year. I find this amazing. I thought that human waste was ejected after being frozen, at several thousand feet. This also begs the question, what does 5 million tons of CO2 look like? Not wishing to challenge our experts on 'climate change', but this excuse has been extensively used by the UK Government to charge mere mortals exhorbitant charges for the CO2 emissions of vehicles. It's resulted in diesels being the vehicle of choice in the UK as they emit lesas CO2 than conventional petrol engines. So short sighted in my view, as diesels belch out black smoke (eventually, despite particulate filters) and are very noisy.

Back to the plot. Ignoring CO2 emissions for a moment, what other ideas do Airlines have for us. Ryanair seems to lead the way. They now charge for checking-in with a person - it's free if done on-line. They're also looking at charging £1 ($1.60) for using the bathroom. This bathroom is about the the size of a yoghurt pot. If you ever dare to remove your pants to use the facility, you will hit the Emergency Button. This will either bring a female attendant to your 'unwanted' help, or a male attendant, and I'm not going down that route.

Ryanair are now also looking at short-hop flights whereby the customer will not actually get a seat. The passenger will have to stand. There will be straps to hold one in, but for up to one hour, there will be nowhere to sit.

I saw a photo of the troop transporters to the war-zones. Inside the plane, seats are lined up along the fuselage, next to each other. The middle of the plane is empty, and people can get up and walk. To me, this is a fantastic idea. None of the problems of the idiots who want to tilt their seat into one's already cramped space, or the others who insist on using your seat back as a prop to get up/move along the narrow aisle.

I wonder what other ideas the Airlines have in mind. Smaller seats? Narrower aisles? Smaller toilets? Seats that don't recline? YES please! Only one bag per person, and no overhead lockers? YES please!

Here endeth today's lesson.

Monday, October 05, 2009

More Travels

Just over two weeks ago, I traveled to Germany for a three day meeting, held in German. Upon my very tired return, I had a couple of days to prepare myself for a trip to God's Country. I know, NZ comes close, but in my experience, the US takes a lot of beating. I flew Continental from Birmingham (England) to Newark NJ. This flight was not too bad apart from a 'serious' injury to my wrist. My hand slipped over 'the new ergonomically designed headphone socket'. This resulted in the plastic covering breaking, and the exposed metal caused a lot of blood. My fellow passenger in the next seat was a retired fireman/paramedic from a town called Dudley (mentioned in the Bible, no less - 'The Seven Dudley Sins'), who immediately called for help. Despite the requests of the flight attendants to 'please stop bleeding all over the place', I failed. Suffice to say that they did patch me up, and offered me a small bottle of wine as compensation. It was after all, the same color as blood.
Upon arrival at Newark, I sought medical attention, but was denied this - something about being potentially sued. So I joined the onward flight to Tampa to have to share half a seat with a 400 pound man sitting next to me. He couldn't even do up his seat belt. I thought this was illegal, but the attendant disagreed. No chance of a free upgrade then....

All was well upon arrival in Tampa, and BLS did her best impersonation of a nurse when I got to her abode. 10 days later, I have a rather nasty scab, coupled with the words of a nurse I met in FL still ringing in my ears telling me I should have had stitches!

But being back in FL was like a tonic for my weary body. 93/94 most days (that's 'hot' in Celsius), sat on the beach with Carys and BLS, had a few brews. Walked in the water with Carys. She's a doll. I watched the gulls watching me; as ever, they were vigilant in case a tasty morsel came their way. My granddaughter obliged when she dropped a couple of crackers.... Hitchcock came to mind...

The driving in FL does not improve. It's Road Rage State in my view. Most people in the State of FL are fun people, but put them behind the wheel of a car, and they become 'the evil ones'. So sad. There's a report in the local paper about drivers shouting abuse at cops and paramedics attending accident scenes as the delays piss them off.

Talking of sad, a brief intro is in order. I was staying in a La Quinta hotel. Quinta pleasant actually. Large room, with two large beds - I know, I can only occupy one at a time. $35 a night after my Senior's discount, my AARP discount, my Florida Resident's discount - I'm sure you get the picture... the normal rate is 'from $55', and we all know that this rate is only available if you book 60 years in advance.... But back to the Sad. I watched TV - a man and his jet-lag has to do something. There was the inevitable 'Wrestling' night. Hosted by the guest appearance of the Rev Al Shrapton..... doesn't that tell it all? I did change channel, before anyone asks!

I was quite amazed that I was still more tanned than my daughter who lives there! She was 40 while I was there! Makes me feel old, but we had a lot of fun. We had a small party of old friends around, I cooked the bratwurst. I've been told my bratwursts are to die for....

I've now returned to the Olde Worlde, where my wife has the flu, and I have the growing symptoms of this malaise. But I'm still Matron. Rik should be grateful that I'm not his Matron.

Here endeth today's lesson.