September 2008


Yesterday I was scheduled to take American Airlines flight #76 which is a non-stop flight from LAX to Washington Dulles.  It should have been an uneventful trip.  After all what can be complicated by a 4 1/2 hour flight?  Yet as luck would have it something did go awry and American lost a chance to improve their image as a result.

First of all let me state for the record that I have flown enough to qualify for what is called Lifetime Plantinum status on American.  All that really means is that I don’t have to requalify every year which is nice and I get priority boarding and a better shot at upgrades like yesterday.

The trip started out just as it should with a smooth boarding process but that was the last thing that really went right.  As the time approached for take off nothing happened.  The captain eventually notified us that the plane had an electrical problem and that maintenance should have it fixed in a half hour or so.  Well that  30 minutes eventually stretched into 3 hours before we were able to take off.  Luckily for us we were still at the gate.  Unfortunately we were prisoners on the plane.

Since the flight was leaving at 9 am Los Angeles time it was a breakfast flight for those of us lucky enough to be in first class but the standard beverage service only in coach.

Here is my gripe and maybe it’s a small one.  We are trapped on the plane yet at the gate.  You would think that after the first hour or so someone at American would have thought to do something for the passengers like try to find some food for them, even peanuts or pretzels.  But of course no one at American can think like that and their solution was to give everyone in coach free headsets to watch the on-board program from CBS.  Wow, they gave the passengers a headset, which are really earbuds worth $2.  That was great p.r.

As for me. I did get a meal but as I said since it was a breafast flight I wound up with cold cereal being served three hours later than normal and now into the lunch zone.  That would have been okay but since the flight was late I arrived well after dinner and the only other thing they served on the plane was a chocolate chip cookie!

I realize that it could have been worse.  The flight could have been cancelled making getting home a nightmare and at least I received some food.   I also understand that the airline has limited options when it comes to arranging for food in these types of cases, but I do recall reading a story about a Delta pilot who on his own nickel bought food for stranded or delayed passenegers as gesture of goodwill.  The airline eventually reimbursed him since it has such a  positive effect on the airline’s reputation.

So why can’t someone at American just rustle up some food from a vendor in the terminal and bring it on board to help the poot starving coach passengers at least?  The goodwill the airline would have earned would have been far greater than the money spent on the food.

Airlines have become backward thinkers in most cases, by adding on fees and charges for luggage, frequent flier awards etc…  As a capitalist I think they have every right to earn a profit, but in these tenuous times all this does is make the flying experience more miserable and chases away the customers.  You don’t have a business if you don’t have any customers.

Wake up American!  I know times are tough but good customer service results in loylaty that is worth far more than a $25 baggage charge.

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At the California state Republican convention  in Anaheim this past weekend politicians were scarce but none was more notably absent than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has seen his popularity plummet across the state.

Schwarzenegger who is term limited has had a rocky relationship with the GOP faithful in California ever since he emerged on the scene as the candidate to replace Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.  Back then the conservatives in the party were suspicious of Schwarzenegger’s true poiltical leanings but seemed willing to place their trust in him in order to mreclaim the governor’s mansion.  By 2006 when it came time for Schwarzenegger to run for a full term the conservatives were proven right about his liberal leanings but couldn’t find a legitimate candidate to challenge the still popular governor.

Yet the bloom has now come off the rose for all voters, as Schwarzenegger has watched over a worsening budget deficit and has openly embraced Democratic state legislators and their liberal agenda.

Still until fairly recently the governor made regular appearances as the state party convention and was still a popular draw, but it looks like the conservatives at least may have had enough of Arnold.

To be fair Schwarzenegger didn’t miss much this weeekend as for some inexplicable reason there were no politicans with booths except for the McCain campaign which is the first time I can recall seeing that in 19 years of attending this event.  Hopefully the lack of party business was largely the reason for the low attendance and not any general malaise on the part of Repiblicans statewide.

If there was any enthusiasm it was for t-shirts bearing the image or name of Sarah Palin.  Vendors selling those goods saw their products literally fly off the shelves and only underscored the difference Palin has made since joining the ticket.  I spoke with one vendor  selling Palin Flower Power t-shirts for women and she said that she has seen a resurgence of enthusiasm for McCain after the Palin announcement and she counts herself in that group.

California was once a state that the GOP could contest and stand a reasonable chance of winning, but as more immigrants take hold the state has turned blue enough that the RNC rarely makes much of an effort in the state which only hurts the down ticket and further strenghthens the Democrats grip on national offices.

I know many Republicans who are discouraged enough to not even bother attending the state convention but that is a defeatest attitude that won’t help the party at all.  There will be  a battle for the governor’s mansion again in 2010 and the GOP had better start girding for that fight right now or it will be lights out.

Nebraska lawmakers thought they were protecting children when they passed a first in the nation safe haven law that allowed parents to drop their children off at a licensed hospital without explaining why.

What the legislators didn’t count on was a flood of parents dropping children of all ages off and leaving.  Their intent was to protect newborns and small infants but by not placing an age limit in the law hospitals have seen entire families being dropped off including teenagers forcing them to scramble to place them with suitable families.

Not only are these children abandoned by their parents but they are then left to wonder why this action is legal.

The courts will decide on whether or not the parents are liable for child support payments but unless it was specifically written into the law it may be hard to enforce.  Also there is the question of whether or not the parents are even in Nebraska.  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that parents just dropped off their children then fled the state or moved without leaving a forwarding address in case the authorities decide to come looking for them.

We live in an era where parents often shirk their responsibilities to raise and  nurture their children but the state of Nebraska has only exacerbated this problem by legalizing the abandonment of children.  In their haste to protect children lawmakers have instead opened a can of worms and made it easier for parents to transfer their responsibility to the state.  In the long run everyone suffers.

After a series of what can only be deemed as setbacks for frequent fliers, Continental Airlines announced a reversal of an impending policy change before it was to take effect.

The airline had sought to follow United, US Airways and Frontier airlines in eliminating the minimum mileage that passengers had been credited for their flights.  The airline standard has been to award a mimimum of 500 miles no matter how short the flight actually was giving some fliers some compensation for the many short haul flights that exist.  Now Continental will give all of their elite level OnePass members while those that don’t fly at least 25,000 miles a year will earn actual mileage.

As an elite frequent flier with American (lifetime Plantinum) I think this is a fair deal.  The idea of loyalty programs is to reward your best customers and who can argue that someone who flies at least 25 ,000 miles a year isn’t in the best customer category?

However that being said, I have to admit to feeling that with all the changes that the airlines have made in the last year that it has been hard to see what perks I am receiving for my loyalty to American.  Frequent fliers are in a bit of dilemma as flying is the most efficient method of travel in most cases , but with rising costs, additional hassles (like security), jam packed flights and diminishing perks the airlines are fast approaching a tipping point to where flying will be the domain of just a few.

So as much as I love my frequent fliers miles and my premium status I look forward to the day when most of my business can be conducted via a video feed eliminating the need to get on a plane.  At  the rate technology is moving that day may not be too far off which will be very bad news for the airlines indeed.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) a notorious champion of fighting earmarks in Congress has taken yet another bold step by launching a new website today at PorkParade.com.

In his press release Flake said that “Congress will only end its enthusiasm for pork when enough citizens make their displeasure known,” and that he hoped the new website will give Congress that message.

For those that sign up for e-mails the site will periodically send messages on how his effort is going.  The site will also utilize microblogging site Twitter to send regular messages from the House floor and for those that are already using the service they can particpate via #pork.

Flake also hopes to load videos on YouTibe as well as bookmarking stories using delicious.com.

With the Republicans in the minority and likely to stay that way after November grassroots efforts such as this will be the most effective way to get reluctant Republicans and recalcitrant Democrats to get off their collective butts and finally bring spending under control.

This past weekend several hundred bloggers and other new media types gathered in Las Vegas for the 2nd annual BlogWorld conference and New Media Expo to glean tips and tricks from some of the top bloggers  and blogging experts in the world.

Each day started out with a keynote speech that was fairly well attended but it was the individual sessions that seemed to attract the biggest crowds overall.  There was a wide range of topics from Sports blogging to what I will call God blogging to some nuts and bolts sessions on twitter and facebook.

In the political panels sponsored by Pajamas Media there was some heat generated when a questioner asked a liberal panelist who supported Barack Obama about getting rid of Che Guevara images and references to Hezbollah from an Obama web site.  That didn’t go over very well with the panelist but created a buzz in the audience as we finally got some lively debate.

The most useful session that I attended was the Facebook Fortunes which was given by Shama Hyder who used case studies of how Facebook can help individuals and groups achive bigger and better things.  The least useful was a relationship building session by German Nicole Simon who was competent but with her German accent and slides that had spelling and grammatical errors didn’t wow me or the crowd.

During my visit to the expo hall I picked up a bunch of free t-shirts ( good swag) as well as a lot of interesting information on software and widgets that may be useful to my corporate blog.  Maybe I’ll try some out here as well.

All in all it was well worth the $200 registration fee and travel expenses to attend.  The sessions, expo hall and the networking were invaluable to me.  I added a few Facebook friends and some twitter followers and decided to start this blog so it was very productive weekend.

Now that BlogWorld 2008 has come and gone I have been reenergized when it comes to setting up a personal blog.  I have a couple of self serving blogs on hotels that I have stayed in etc.. and my accumulation of frequent flyer miles on American Airlines plus my “professional” blog for the company I work for but until now I really haven’t set up anything just for me.  Until now.

I hope to fill these pages aka the web with my  musings about life but more in particular about the media which is the world I spend most of my time in.  I welcome your comments as long as they are civil and I will try to be fair though there will be a conservative bent throughout my posts.

Send me your suggestions as well since I can’t read every news source and I will see what I can do.