The High Life
Last week was my birthday. And is typical on birthdays, one friend said, “Make a wish, after all, it is your birthday.” Another said, “May all your wishes come true.” As I received these birthday wishes, I was at—you guessed it—an airport. And if you can’t have your wishes come true on your birthday, when can they come true? With that in mind, I jotted down the following wishes that would make my life and other road warriors’ lives easier.
1. Make the Elite-line feel Elite
Never mind the fact that we have to disrobe at the security check point. I’m beyond that now….my wish is getting to the security check point in less than an hour which is becoming increasingly difficult to do in Houston, Newark and Chicago (thank you Continental/United). It seems that nowadays everyone and his dog is flying as an Elite member. Those of us who fly over 100k miles a year should not have to wait in an “Elite” line with those who barely meet the criteria. Sort of defeats the purpose don’t you think?
2. Cut back on the boarding announcements
If you do not know the mechanics involved of how to fasten your seat belt (“low and tight across your lap”), please ask your seat mate. Are there really people in this world that do not know how to click a seatbelt? I have now heard the announcement along with “you will earn valuable miles for this flight” enough times to put me in a halfway house.
Many of these same pilots are furtively checking their email as we are speeding down the runway for take off. Really, what is this rule about? How can you have Direct-TV broadcasting the cooking channel but not my BlackBerry?
3. Let mobile devices be just that…mobile
“Anything with an on/off switch must be turned off until…..” I have sat next to pilots who assure me that my Bose noise-cancelling headphones will not bring the plane down if they are powered on during take-off. In fact, many of these same pilots are furtively checking their email as we are speeding down the runway for take off. Really, what is this rule about? How can you have Direct-TV broadcasting the cooking channel but not my BlackBerry?
4. Institute seat etiquette
It goes without saying that I wish people would keep their shoes on especially when going to the lav. But let’s talk reclining seats. Airline seats were never meant to be chaise lounges. Haven’t we all sat behind the boor who pushes his seat back faster than the plane is traveling just as you have placed a cup of hot coffee and opened your laptop on your tray table? As King of Birthday Wishes, I hereby decree that all seats have recline governors so that I will have advance notice of their arrival into my row.
For those who share my frustration with the “Reclining Ralphs” of the airline world, my first line of defense is to open my Wall Street Journal and let the top of the newspaper ever so gently brush their hair. I turn the pages faster as time goes. My last ditch retaliation, which works 9 out of 10 times, is to quickly turn my air vent to max and strategically line it up with the top of their head. Beware of men with hats as it loses its potency.
5. All food brought on board must pass the sniff test
With airlines charging for food many have elected to bring on their own meals. While this is understandable, it was not so great last week when a woman brought food from home only to discover (as we all did) once the doors to the plane were sealed shut that her egg salad sandwich and rice pudding had passed the point of no return over the July 4th weekend.
6. Ban the hotel maid policy of “Knock and Open”
Hotel maids must observe mandatory waiting period after knocking. I know hotels are at a premium this summer but why do maids have to knock on your door at 7.30 a.m. while simultaneously opening the door? I hereby institute the “knock-a-thon” policy which consists of three vigorous knocks followed by a 10-second cool down period followed by three more vigorous knocks before entering. This way maids don’t have to see me getting out of the shower and I get to preserve what little dignity I have.
7. Car rental companies will get out of the gas gouging business
Never mind that the car rental return is located a long way from the airport with not a service station to be found for 10 miles. Like many of you I have on occasion screeched into the rental car lots, tires burning but tank empty with less than 30 minutes to make my flight. Who wants to pay $250 re-fueling charge when the actual cost is probably closer to $60? If I knew it was going to be so expensive I would have just bought a used car for the trip. In my wishful world, frequent renters could pay an annual fee and get their fill ups at cost.
Although it is no longer my birthday, I am hoping that my wishes will live on. Please feel free to print this out and present it to the rental car agent, pushy maid, Reclining Ralph or anyone who makes your travel life less than the pleasure my birthday was.
As managing director of The Alexander Group, an executive search firm with offices in Houston, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, London and Park City, John C. Lamar is a real road warrior. He files periodic reports about his travels for CultureMap.