AirSnark’s Book Is Out!

So a while back I wrote a travel book, detailing exactly how someone who is new to the business traveler world should navigate.  Points this, hotel that, and the like.  Then the book sat unloved for a while.

Well it’s not only been resurrected – it’s published!

Currently the book, titled A Million Miles Amok: A Guidebook For The New Road Warrior, is available in the iTunes iBookstore and from Amazon.  So if you are interested, check it out!

Here’s the cover art:

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Has the TSA just thrown in the towel?

So I was flying out of my home airport, Portland International, this morning.  First had to head through security – luckily with my TSA PreCheck, so I could fly through security in front of all of the other regular travelers.  It’s faster, right?

Umm, no.  Not that the two TSA PreCheck lines weren’t going fast.  But the other lines nearest the PreCheck lines had TSA agents screaming (naturally – their default behavior) that the lane was a “Throw and go” lane.  Remove nothing from your bag (like your liquids and such), leave your shoes and coats on, and just put your phone in your bag, then walk through the magnetometer.  Not even the fancy new porno-scanners – just the regular magnetometer.

So basically TSA PreCheck is now the same security as every other TSA line, at least at Portland International.  And like TSA PreCheck, the general public only went through the porno-scanner when they set off the magnetometer.

What the hell, TSA?

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Want some exercise, Road Warrior?

We all tend to struggle when we’re on the road.  You know, trying to get to the client site, get your work done, and have some semblance of life, so maybe your afternoon run or your morning workout goes by the wayside?

Maybe it’s just me.

Well there’s a helpful little blogpost over on USA Today’s website that talks about “Airports with the longest walks between gates”.  And while this is normally a frequent flyer’s worst nightmare, in this case, it gives you some good ideas on how to get a few thousand extra steps in while at the airport.

Link: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/2015/06/24/airport-gates-distance/29168851/

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Probably the ugliest volley in the Delta/Alaska “frenemies” game

So everyone’s probably already heard about how Delta and Alaska – once great friends, have slowly been turning into enemies.  And while they still are cordial to each other, the heat is getting turned up – but quick.  Delta has decided to expand their West Coast presence with flights going from Alaska hubs Seattle and Portland down to the Bay Area and Los Angeles.  Alaska volleyed back with majorly expanding their presence in Salt Lake City.

But the biggest volley by far (in my personal opinion) is the fact that Delta is going to start a shuttle between Portland and Seattle (end of the article) – a la Horizon Air, Alaska’s sister airline.  The Portland/Seattle shuttle is a breadwinner for Alaska because those that can’t “get there” from Portland (or the surrounding communities), almost always can get there from Seattle.  In my 1.25 million miles, the most popular route that I fly has been between Portland and Seattle.

And while I think at first, if it actually does come to pass (I’m wondering if Delta’s version of the “Seattle Shuttle” will ever really get off the ground), I don’t think it will be all that long lived.  Or if it does, I can’t see Alaska’s partnership with Delta lasting all that much longer.

A quick side note: With Delta coming back for flights between Portland and Seattle, the first thing I thought of was D. B. Cooper.  He’s the man that hijacked a Northwest Airlines (now Delta) Boeing 727 out of Portland, headed for Seattle, then disappeared from the plane and was never heard from again…  Hey – maybe Delta can dub their flights the D. B. Cooper Express!

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How I knew it was going to be a bad TSA day

I guess I can explain my tweet of last night.  Flying out of PDX, for some reason I didn’t get TSA PreCheck again.  Three weeks in a row.  I made a “Ugh!” type comment, was overheard by a TSA agent, and she proceeded to “bait” me into a fight.  Here’s the exchange:

Me (to TSA ID Checker): Oh jeez…  Three weeks without PreCheck?  You guys are killing me!  (said in a more jovial than not tone).
TSA ID Checker just rolled her eyes.  I made my way into the regular security line.
TSA Overhearing Agent: “You know there’s a line over there?” she said, pointing to the other lane.
Me: “Yes, but that one is wrapped around and this one is shorter, thanks.”
TSA Overhearing Agent: “I’m not arguing with you, sir.  I know you’re angry for not getting PreCheck.”
Me: I rolled my eyes at her obvious bait and asked, “Do you want me to switch lines anyway?”
TSA Overhearing Agent: “I said I’m not going to fight with you, sir.”
Me: “I’m not fighting with you; I simply asked if you wanted me to move to the other line.”
TSA Overhearing Agent: “I understand that you wanted to get PreCheck. It’s not our fault; it’s handled elsewhere.  I’m not going to fight with you, sir.”

At this point, I closed my eyes, counted to ten, and just stayed where I was.  I had a TSA Agent arbitrarily provoking me for whatever douchy reason she had.  I never raised my voice, said anything derogatory, or anything to the woman.  She just wanted me to snap at her for some reason.

Well I wouldn’t take the bait.  But that’s not going to stop me from calling her a giant douchenozzle and blogging about it.

Aah, adventures with the TSA.  Fun, eh?

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Surf Air – The future of aviation, or just niche?

There’s a good article on up and coming airline Surf Air, and how they want to shake up the airline industry by offering a subscription-type monthly fee for flying, instead of a per-ticket price.  They’d be closer to a SeaPort Airlines and not a regular Southwest or Alaska, and would – at least initially – be flying to just four cities/areas: San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey California, Santa Barbara, and the Los Angeles basin.  All with a basic membership to be paid monthly, the lowest cost (of the 3 options) coming in at $780/month.

One of the attractive offers they have is that Surf Air isn’t relegated to commercial airports, like other commercial airlines.  For example, they could take off from Palo Alto Airport, which is basically in the middle of the San Francisco Bay Area being midway between San Jose and San Francisco – not to mention it’s closest to some of the biggest companies in the world (can you say Google and Facebook?).  Plus, no TSA.  BONUS!

On the other hand, no TSA – so what happens if they actually do land at SFO or SJC?  Offloading pax would have to be screened somehow before getting on to another commercial flight.  I know connecting service isn’t what these folks are offering – rather the “I live in SF and go to LA ever weekend” or “I live in Santa Barbara and work in Downtown LA” type of person.  Also, there probably aren’t rental cars at these small, non-commercial airports – so there’s that.

It’s all an interesting idea, and if I still lived in the Bay Area and had to fly to LA every week, I’d consider it.  What do you think?

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Like GRR needs more expensive flights…

For six months in 2010, I flew into GRR airport (Grand Rapids, Michigan) every week.  The thing that got me?  I was paying a buttload of cash just to fly into there, or the tiny AZO (Kalamazoo) airport to the South.  Never failed; there were about a dozen consultants, though I was coming from the farthest, since I’m West Coast based, and my tickets were always around $1,000 per week.

A few times I flew on Frontier, one of the only LCCs to fly into GRR.  And now, Frontier just announced that they’re getting out of the GRR market.

Sources say that it’s because Southwest is going in there.  AirTran has been in GRR for a while, but apparently now parent Southwest is going to move in as well.  Will it have an effect on the $1,000 airfares?  I doubt it.  Why?  Because it’s not really had an effect in Atlanta.  So why should it have an effect elsewhere?  Higher fares – and fewer flights, on more and more unreliable aircraft (can you say ‘maintenance delay’?) – are here to stay, it seems.

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Dear TSA: WTF?

This is frustrating…  People – including me – have gone off about the TSA and their ‘porno scanners’; what an invasion of privacy they are, how unsafe they are, and the like.  A judge ordered that the TSA was supposed to hold public comments, so that we could hear from people and experts.  You know, like the fact that the backscatter machines can cause up to 100 cases of cancer per year (and that’s when they’re working properly!)

So finally, the TSA has set up – 19 months later than it was ordered to – a public comment period, scheduled for February 2013.  Get ready, folks!  Unless you like having your ‘nads subjected to radiation or photographed every time you go to the airport.

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More on the TSA porno body scanners

Anybody remember the video from last March about getting things through the TSA body scanners?  Well the original guy is at it again, and has video of his incident via a “freedom of information” act.

Here it is.  Support this guy!