Seat Guru

Ever wonder where the best seats are on any given commercial airliner?  Thanks to Seat Guru, you can find the best seats on any plane on any airline.  And, you can also avoid the bad seats.

I've used this site often.  You can search by airline and find a color-coded seat map for any plane they fly.


Independence Pass

Independence_pass_smallHere I am on Saturday at 12,000 feet on the Continental Divide at Independence Pass headed into Aspen, Colorado.

Below is a picture I captured about 24 hours later in the midst of an early October snowfall.  I guess this once again confirms the adage, "What a difference one day can make!"

Independence_pass_snow_small


AA Employee Busts My Chops

This comment came in from Matt C., an American Airlines employee who has previously criticized my criticism of the airlines - Link.

"Once again Mr. Busch I'm amazed at your complete lack of understanding about the airline industry. People like yourself expect to be pampered and doted on, but want a $100 ticket from Tulsa to Miami (or wherever you go). It doesn't work that way. People are not 'disaffected' as you put it...if that were really true then there wouldn't be record numbers of people flying this summer. People have made it clear they want the cheapest possible fares and to make that happen the airlines are cutting whatever they have to in order to make that happen, all while the price of oil stays above $50 a barrel ($54 to be exact as of yesterday). Pillows and peanuts are not the only cuts...wages, salaries, and pensions are being cut too, yet all you ever blab about are the things that amount to nothing. And what shrinking space are you talking about? Other than American, who tried the more space option, no one is shrinking the amount of space in coach or first. At least be accurate in what you write, if not fair. Like your air coditioner rant---saving fuel by not running the air coditioner isn't something we do, it just doesn't figure into things---we do one engine taxis and use ground power at gates instead of APU's (even know what that is?) but denying passengers of air? That proves your ignorance. Oh and nice hitting on obese people on top of everything else. You know, here's a novel idea for you.....why not come up with a way for the airlines to give you what you want AND be able to make ends meet at $54 oil prices. That would garner you some respect. Until then try to stick to something you know anything about. Whatever that is exactly."

Well, there you go, hurting my feelings again.  Though I am glad something about me amazes you.

Actually, thanks for your comments.  Nothing could better illustrate the attitude of the airlines toward their customers than your rant.


The Frill is Gone

The June 9 issue of the New York Times has an article talking about the decline of "frills" among the major airlines.  Registration is required, but here's the LINK.

For an easier-to-access article ragging on the airlines, go to Fast Company's website for the article, "Another Messed Up Industry Makes Things Worse."  Here's the LINK.

Mike Staires, one of my quick-witted cohorts here at BMC Advertising, began calling the coach section of the plane "steerage" some months ago.  Turns out he was ahead of the curve on that call.  Perhaps it's a moniker we should all adopt.  Steerage seems somehow more accurate these days than coach.

With all the vacationing families traveling in steerage, it's going to be a long summer for the business traveler.  I can hardly wait to shoehorn my body into the shrinking space allocated for me in a cabin that is smoldering from the under use of air conditioning as the airlines demonstrate their prowess in saving fuel and in disaffecting customers with just one policy.

Note to gate agents - be sure to put large overweight people into the middle seats.  That way they can make two other passengers uncomfortable instead of just one.


Northwest Cuts Amenities

Nwa_logofrom washingtonpost.com -

Beginning Thursday, Northwest will no longer offer passengers a free half-ounce bag of pretzels during flights. Instead, passengers who want a snack will have to pay $1 for a three-ounce bag of almonds, cashews and raisins. The move will save Northwest about $2 million a year, said spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch.

The race to the bottom continues.  Against $11.8 billion in sales last year, this amounts to .00017 (or .017%) of sales.  Here's some other ideas I have for Northwest and the other airline fossils -

1. No more free hand towels and toilet paper in the restrooms.  Sell these items on board with an upcharge for more than single ply.  Engineer the packets so that the average person will need at least two to get the job done.
2. Pay toilets.  Self serve vending at $1 per visit.  People will be so pissed that this will be a real money maker.  Might even fund the return of the peanuts.
3. $5 per bag for checked luggage and $10 per bag for carry on.  If it won't fit wheels first, then $15.
4. Allow coach passengers to use first class rest rooms for a $5 upcharge.
5. Remove all seating from the gate areas and sell it to some third world country where it will be appreciated.  There's never enough anyway.  This way every one is treated equally.
6. Make the passengers clean the airplane.  No one leaves the plane until it is spotless.  My first grade teacher did this in her classroom with marvelous success.
7. Make the passengers load their own luggage.  After all, they only care about getting the cheapest fare possible.
8. Seats only recline when you insert a quarter.
9. Charge customers a convenience fee of $1 if they carry on their own pillow or blanket and a trash disposal fee of $3 if they carry on any food.
10. Put seatbelts on the toilets and upsell those as private cabins.

Click "comments" to add your ideas.


Wi-Fi on United Airlines

United_airlinesfrom washingtonpost.com


By next year, United Airlines could become the first U.S.-based carrier to allow its passengers to surf the Internet, check e-mails and send instant messages during flights.

United announced yesterday that the Federal Aviation Administration approved the airline's use of Verizon Communication Inc.'s Wi-Fi service.

United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said the airline has not yet determined a price for the service.

Ooo.  Ooo.  I have an idea.   How about free?


Priceline and Hotwire

I don't use Priceline or Hotwire for air travel (except in rare occasions) and I haven't found their rental car deals to be that great, but you can really get some great deals on hotels. I just stayed at the 4-star Hyatt in Austin overlooking the waterway for just $50 per night (plus fees and taxes) by using Priceline. And, I have booked some good hotel/car deals at Hotwire from time to time.

I can't go into an exhaustive explanation on how to use these sites, but if you are interested in saving serious money on travel, check out Priceline and Hotwire.

A helpful site with tips on using both services is . . .

Continue reading "Priceline and Hotwire" »