Archive for August, 2009
Many thanks to the Boston Globe for posting an outstanding selection of aviation photos on its website!
In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, the BBC ran a series of shows to mark the event. James May, one of the stars of the popular show Top Gear, was the host.
As he said, “Given my age and my physical condition, there was no way I could travel into space, but this comes close.” Close was a ride in a US Air Force U-2 spy plane up to an altitude of 70,000 feet, so high that he could actually see the curvature of the Earth.
May, probably the most erudite of the Top Gear cast was so moved by the event that he could barely find the words to express himself.
Enjoy this special video. (Be sure to watch it in full screen mode)
Travel and Leisure magazine features an online article with their list (including photos) of the world’s scariest runways.
Personally, I am not too concerned about some: I don’t think I will be flying Druk Air into Bhutan anytime soon. But some others are at major North American airports that I have used in the past.
Have you flown into these airports? If so, share a comment!
And when you are done, you can read T+L’s list of the world’s scariest roads!
Web 2.0 is here.
People are Tweeting; they are using wikis, and they are doing blogs.
Twitter, once the home of personal texting, is a new way for businesses to communicate with their customers. Many companies are “tweeting” including the Ford Motor Company, the Mayo Clinic, Toyota, Canon Camera, Southwest Airlines (over 431,000 followers!), and American Airlines.
You can also find these companies on MySpace, Face Book, and YouTube. Even the very conservative United States Army has a channel on YouTube!
Sadly, my favorite airline, American, the airline on which I do virtually all of my flying, does not yet have one.
I know there are some people at American’s headquarters who are want a blog and are working on it. I hope they can get one online soon.
Why am I writing this story? Because I received a tweet today from Southwest Airlines, suggesting I visit their blog, Nuts About Southwest, to read “one of the best customer service stories I’ve read in a LONG time.” Take a moment to read the article, it is a great story of Southwest employees going the extra mile to help a customer at a time of great need.
Be sure to read the comments at the bottom of the article to see how much good-will Southwest created with this one story.
This is an amazing story that tens of thousands of people read. If only 10% of the people following Southwest on Twitter took time to read that story, it reached more than 43,000 people. That is quite an amazing number.
If Southwest had offered this story to the news media, it might have been picked up, particularly if it was a very slow news day, but the odds are the media would not have been interested in a “Look at how wonderful we are” story.
Nuts About Southwest, however, gave them the opportunity to tell their story to a very large audience. Since Southwest wrote the story, they also controlled the message, something that does not happen when you deal with the conventional media.
I have no doubt that American, one of the largest airlines in the world, with more than 84,000 employees in December 2008, has people who want to tell similar stories. I’m sure that someone at AA went the extra mile today.
A few months ago I left my camera on the plane when I got off at San Jose. When the ground crew started to clean the plane, they found the camera. They looked up my name on the manifest, saw my AAdvantage number, used that to find the phone number that I had registered at AA.com, and then called me to tell me they had the camera. I was so impressed by their service that I went to AA.com to praise them.
That would have been a great story for the AA blog, if only they had one. Unfortunately, they do not, so only the customer service reps at AA saw my message. Too bad. A blog would offer American a wonderful opportunity to tell its story.
There is one solution. American Airlines, you need a blog, and you need it now. This is the time to launch it.
While I am always looking for a good deal on a mileage run, my current search is not as urgent as it was earlier in the year.
Thanks to American Airlines (AA) special promotion during which they awarded double Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), I have earned Platinum Status for 2010. Maintaining that status is always one of my major goals of the year. Platinum members not only earn double miles for their flights, they also get four upgrades (each good for 500 miles) for every 10,000 miles they fly. My account shows that I only need 330 more miles to cross the next 10,000 mile plateau and get four more upgrades. So, I’ve decided to go for it, all I need is one very short flight to qualify. I thought this would be easy.
My first thought was to fly to DFW and back. I could leave in the morning and be home in time for lunch! I checked AA.com and was in luck, it looks like they are offering a special fare of $49 each way. With tax and all, it’s $119.20. That is not a great mileage run, almost 6 cents per mile, but it would earn me my four upgrades for the least amount of money, and it would be a short easy trip.
I looked at some other options and found a sale price to Denver: AUS-DFW-DEN-DFW-AUS, for $74 each way. With tax it’s $190. That is a better cost, only 4.16 cents per mile, but the ticket costs almost 59% more. If I were looking for total miles as I was earlier in the year, Denver would be the obvious choice. But since I only need 330 miles, DFW is the quickest and least expensive way to go.
So, I’ve booked a Saturday mileage run later this month: leave Austin at 9:30, arrive DFW at 10:40. I’ll grab a quick cup of coffee at the Admiral’s Club then head to the departure gate for my 11:30 flight that will put me back in Austin at 12:25 that afternoon. I’ll be home in time for lunch!
Unless AA offers some spectacular bargains, this may be my last mileage run of the year. With this flight I will have achieved my goals and simply need to book a vacation to spend the miles I have built up.
Speaking of that, I did cancel the Thailand itinerary that I mentioned in an earlier post: it was not a good schedule, and they were not able to find seats for us for a return flight. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking!