Category Archives: travel

Customer Service (and its lack)

We just got home today from one of the worst travel experiences in my life. We flew through Denver on United, connecting to Colorado Springs in order to visit my brother’s family in Pueblo and attend my niece’s wedding. It was less expensive than flying directly into the Springs or into Pueblo, and we’ve done it many times before with no problems or at worst delays. Going to the Springs on Thursday, we were delayed an extra two hours in Denver, but made it to Springs tired but happy to get in and see family, and enjoyed a wonderful weekend staying at the Pueblo Marriott, with a really good experience there, and visiting with family I hadn’t seen in twenty years in some cases. It was a great trip.

Until we tried to come home. There were several hours between our Springs flight and our Denver connection, so we didn’t anticipate problems. We got out of Springs late with about a half hour to connect. Then the troubles began. We ended up having to run sixty gates to try and make our flight. The airline knew we had just come in, and the gate attendant when we arrived assured us they would hold the flight. United’s policy is to close the doors ten minutes before a flight, but we were told the zone manager has the option to hold the flight for connections.

We got to the gate just as the doors had closed, running as hard as we could. Twelve people were standing there waiting, and United would not let us on the flight. I suppose they had already given our seats to other stranded passengers. And now we were the stranded, for not being able to run sixty gates in ten minutes. Our luggage was on the plane and going to San Diego. But we couldn’t get on the plane, since they had closed the doors.

I understand people miss connections, and airlines have to do what they can. But knowing customers have just come in a flight, and then leaving them stranded at the gate, is pretty inexcusable. Refusing to do anything for them when this happens is the totally unacceptable part. They wouldn’t book us a room, give us a voucher for a meal or anything. And were telling hundreds of other people in the airport the same thing, using the excuses that their United-Continental merger wasn’t complete, so they weren’t responsible for a Continental connection, or that it was our fault for not running sixty gates fast enough. We were all stuck, in dirty underwear in many cases and with no toiletries. But they didn’t care.

So we called Marriott, who booked us a room at the Residence Inn (using the United corporate rate code, which we found amusing.) We had a nice dinner at Applebees, who fed us efficiently and treated us well. We got breakfast the next day at Residence Inn, included with our room, deodorant, at a minimal cost, and free shuttle service to the airport. We got outstanding service — from everyone except the company that created the problem.

We traveled home today with many of the stranded — the mother with a young baby, who they had done nothing for. We had dinner at the Applebee’s the night before next to the man they had stranded from Grand Junction, who had now canceled his San Diego trip for business and now only wanted to go home. They couldn’t get him home that night either. The waitress told us that they heard these stories about United every. single. day.

And now, for want of a nail, the shoe has come off. We will never fly United again. We will never connect through Denver on a trip again. We are looking for a charity to donate our United miles to — all 70,000 of them. We will not use this company again.

I don’t blame the employees. The rules are set by the company, and the employees have little leeway. No wonder they stop caring after a while, and just do the job as best they can. I blame the management, the millionaires and maybe billionaires who run this company, set its policies, and every day, strand hundreds or even thousands of people. And don’t care. Not at all. Not even enough to hand out a package with some underwear, deodorant and a toothbrush, and eat the cost of a hotel room. Would that really be so difficult? Really?

I don’t give this airline long to survive. Others can do better — and do. Or at least care if they don’t.

Going Home

Well, going to where I grew up, at least. I’m off to Scottsdale, Arizona today to visit family and friends. My mom left me a timeshare there so I am headed there this week.

And I just got the book, “Journey from the Heart” from paperbackswap.com. This is the post for today:

You’re Almost Home

I only had a few hundred miles to go, but the stretch ahead seemed endless. I was tired and near the end of this adventure. I remembered the meditative words of a friend, words that had helped me several years ago, words that helped me again now.

“The life force is a force within you. You have the power to fire it, stoke it, expand its energy throughout your body. Don’t clench up, tighten up. That limits the life force within you. Stop cramping your muscles and telling yourself you can’t. If you say it long and loud enough, you’ll begin to believe it. Relax. Relax your arms, your legs, your neck, your body. You’ve come so far. Look back at all the miles you’ve traveled. What lies ahead is a small portion, such a small portion of fear.”

“Breathe deeply. When you become afraid or tired, your breathing becomes shallow. That inhibits the fire. It keeps the life force from reaching your muscles, your vital organs, your brain. Breathe deeply. Stoke the fire within.”

“Take a moment now to picture the core of light within you. See it in your solar plexus just inches below your navel. Picture it as a glowing coal, a candle, a flame. With each breath you take, picture the flame getting stronger, glowing more brightly, until you feel the vital life force begin to surge through you.”

“Feel yourself being filled with healing, life-giving energy with each breath you take. Feel the flame burn more brightly within you. Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. Feel your power spread through your body. Feel the power of the universe come in through your breath. Feel the power connect with and flame the burning coal of energy that is within you.”

“You’ve come so far. You’ve almost mastered that lesson, accomplished that task, unveiled that insight, the one you’ve been struggling with. Of course you’re tired. You’ve been working hard. Take a moment now to light the fire within you. Let it give you the energy you need.”

Don’t stop now. You’re almost home.

So I guess that’s an appropriate message for my drive today…

For the Traveler

For the Traveler

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

~ John O’Donohue ~
For the Traveler
July 14th, 2010

For the Traveler

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

~ John O’Donohue ~

(To Bless the Space Between Us)
( © John O’Donohue. All rights reserved)

Aloha again

We’re going to be headed to Hawaii in less than a week! I’m hoping to be able to revisit this beautiful beach, the one where I dropped my parents’ ashes into the ocean. The current off this coast runs straight to Tahiti, so I thought that might be a nice place to let them go. Don’t know if they ever made it to Tahiti, of course, but I like to imagine them there, as part of some gorgeous reef perhaps.

We’ll only be visiting the island of Kauai, where my parents’ timeshare was located and that I inherited. So no exploring the big island this time and finding its farthest reaches. I actually kind of like the more limited location trips. I really enjoyed going to Paris and just seeing the city last year, not feeling like we had to get out and see all of France or all of Europe or whatever. I think it made us feel more connected to the place we were visiting. So this time, we’ll really get to know Kauai well and connect there, and find the less traveled spots that we will enjoy even more.

And I’m taking along my best friend from grade school and high school and her husband, so this will be a fun trip indeed! Can’t wait!

Careful, they spit!

Obama

President Obama took a jab at Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Dinner last night:

“In Egypt, we had the opportunity to tour the pyramids,” Mr. Obama said, referring to his trip earlier this month. “And by now, I’m sure you’ve all seen the pictures of Rahm on that camel. I admit, I was a little nervous about the whole situation. I said at the time, ‘This is a wild animal known to bite, kick and spit. And who knows what the camel could do.’ ”

Via Kos.

it's woodka-one touch more

woodka4

Apparently I need to make a road trip to Germany. I must have this!!


it’s woodka – one touch more®

INTENSIVE FULL FLAVOUR, DRY, POWERFUL AND MASCULINE JUST AS THE SHAPE IMPLIES, WITH A VARIETY OF TASTES, GOING FROM VANILLA TO ROASTING FLAVOURS AND A NUANCE OF SWEET WINE PROVIDES YOU WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF A LONG LASTING PLEASANT TASTE.

PIONEERING SPIRIT, ENJOYMENT AT INVENTING NEW EXCITING WORLD PLEASURES, THE UNKNOWN CONTACT OF CRYSTAL CLEAR VODKA WITH THE NOBLE WOOD BARRELS, GIVES THE WOODKA ITS EXCLUSIVE AURA.

MAGICAL MOMENTS. TAKE OFF ON A CLOUD OF PLEASURES AND FEEL CONTENT.
RECOMMENDATION: ENJOY AT ROOM TEMPERATURE, NOT COOLED, A REAL SHAME TO MIX AND LOSE THE INTENSITY OF THE FLAVOUR.

Chocolat!

chocolat

One of the best things about Paris is the abundance of fine chocolate makers. The creativity of many of the chocolatiers is amazing. This is at Patrick Roger. (Be sure to check out their site — some of the other stores are even more amazing.) Oh, and they deliver

chocolatbears

Yes, they’re chocolate! These are at Jean-Charles Rochoux, who was amazing. We got some chocolat liqeuers there that were just wonderful. (Their web site is cute but utterly useless). There’s a nice review of his shop here.

John-Charles Rochoux
16, rue d’Assas (6th)
Tél: 01 42 84 29 45
Métro: St. Sulpice or Rennes
Closed on Sundays and Monday morning

chocolatfigures

parisdinner

So this was our dinner in Paris that evening, in our hotel room, with our 25th anniversary bottle of wine from the hotel staff. Chocolat, bread from Poullaine, charcuteries and local cheeses, and Laduree and Pierre Hermes macarons for dessert!. Would you believe that with all the walking,  we even lost a couple pounds in Paris?!

More chocolat photos here.

Oh, and check this out — chocolat stamps!