I am neither a good reporter, nor prognosticator

So I recently had some questions and posited some opinions in the Alaska vs. Delta frenemies shuffle that’s been going on the last few months – and I got some stuff wrong.  But not only that, I got some prognostication wrong as well.  So now I’m here to hopefully fix all that.

First thing is, Alaska has a good presence of people, all wearing Alaska clothing and manning the D8 gate at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  But just because they’re in Alaska clothing doesn’t mean anything.  I talked to one of the people that seemed to be in charge there as we were boarding the ATL-PDX flight, and she said that besides her, everyone else was outsourced.  They may look like Alaska employees, but they gate people are just as outsourced as the people handing the ground operations (tug, pushback, etc).  Well that sucks!

Not only that, but Alaska just recently announced that they are going to nix the Atlanta to Portland routes – I’m assuming because of load factor issues.  I normally travel on busier days – days where business travelers are out in full force (Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays), and the plane seems to be mostly full.  But I’ve taken the flight on a Tuesday where there are a good 50 empty seats in the back of the plane – not good if you want to keep a route profitable.  And obviously the route isn’t because Alaska just announced – in the small print when they said they were going to add SEA->BWI and SEA->ABQ to the route map – that they were discontinuing four city pairs, including ATL->PDX.

SUCKS!

Okay, so maybe it doesn’t suck for you.  But as someone who is on PDX->ATL on an almost weekly basis, it’s really going to suck for me.  At least I think it’s going to suck; the Atlanta employee said that they were lobbying to try and keep the flight.  I hope Alaska at least keeps the dual round trip frequency in Atlanta, even if they don’t keep it from Portland (the previous frequency was two round trips daily, one morning flight and one redeye).  Whatever the case, I’m going to have to start looking for more options when it comes to my weekly travel.

So there we have it.  A bit mea culpa from me.  But then again, if you’re relying on me to be the standard bearer of news, I’ll be laughing over in the corner.  ::grin::  I’m not bad – I just write that way.

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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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Cover me: I’m about to say something nice about the TSA

It’s not often that I say something nice about the Transportation Safety Administration.  Their usual treatment of individuals is pretty horrid; and I should know since I travel every week.  But I just recently became part of the TSA Pre program – and it’s glorious.

Here in Portland, Oregon, our local airport has joined the TSA Pre™ list of approved airports.  And since I joined myself (as a frequent flier of Alaska Airlines, they joined me up automatically, but only for flights on Alaska), it has taken me no longer than 7 seconds to get through TSA after showing my identification.  It has been glorious!

So if you’re a frequent business traveler, I’d look into it.  It’s so worth the $100 fee.

One note of caution.  When you join TSA Pre™, they will give you a few options.  I chose their Global Entry option, because it made the best sense for me.  Your decision may be different.  But they give you a “Global Entry” identification card, and it’s an official identification from the Department of Homeland Security, and can be used as proper ID.  It can, no matter if a TSA agent refuses it or not.  I fly out of the tiny airport of Prescott, Arizona, and the TSA there refused to accept my Homeland Security ID and wanted my drivers license.

So there you have it.  I did manage to balance some good with some bad, so take that, TSA!  But seriously – join Global Entry.  You’ll definitely be glad you did!  And drop me a line if you have questions.

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When are airports going to learn?

So airlines and airports have suffered through the economic downturn.  And beyond that, they’ve been further punished economically because of companies not doing as many business trips – those higher fare customers have disappeared.

So why is it airports haven’t gotten with the times, to entice business travelers back?  For example, Phoenix Sky Harbor airport has free WiFi, but the terminals are outdated; you basically have to sit on the floor if you want to get an electrical outlet.  And their WiFi (when it works; lately it’s been working only about 70% of the time) is censored; nothing like trying to get to your corporate email when suddenly a Cisco popup says you can’t get to your email because your domain isn’t one that Cisco approves of.

Some of the best airports are the smaller ones.  I remember flying through Albuquerque back in 2006 and they had free WiFi, plus tables with electrical outlets and – get this – chairs!  You didn’t have to sit on the ground!  Portland International has probably 8 to 10 “business centers” that people can use.  And this week I went into the new Terminal 6 at LAX where Alaska Airlines just moved, and saw seats with electrical outlets everywhere.  WiFi wasn’t free, but at least paid WiFi isn’t censored WiFi.

So Airports: If you want to win us business travelers over, do something for us!  I now know I’ll travel through LAX more often than PHX, just because there are more options for us business travelers.

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Add PDX to the Porno Scanner List

I flew out of Portland International yesterday, and was really unhappy to see that the porno scanners have been installed, at least at the ABC checkpoint.  A couple of things.

  1. Like I posted before, the technology these machines use has not been proven to be safe for commercial use.
  2. There are only 3 scanners for the busiest security checkpoint for the airport (the ABC gates clear passengers for nearly 65% of all PDX departures, with the top 3 airlines – Southwest, Alaska, and Horizon accounting for more than 50% themselves).

This is crap.  The machines aren’t safe, for the traveling public, nor for the TSA agents that are forced to stand next to them for hours at a time.

I think I’ll print out a few dozen copies of the Mashable article and leave them around the airport.  That, and obstruct their use at every chance.

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Good roundup of TSA shenanigans

While work’s been…odd as of late, I haven’t had a lot of time to post.  Plus I’ve been home for 3 weeks (the longest I’ve been home for 8+ years).  But I’ve been keeping up with most of what’s going on out there with regards to the TSA crap – the backscatter porn cum cancer machines, and the new “I’m gonna touch your junk” searches.  One of the best articles that keeps most of these stories in one place can be found over here at Shakesville.

What you (probably) haven’t seen, though is what Secretary of State Clinton said.  Yes, she towed the line of it being “a necessary evil.”  But she also said she’d avoid a TSA patdown.  Score one for our side.

I kinda regret that Portland International doesn’t have these cancer machines yet, just so I can opt out, scream “Don’t touch my junk”, and file criminal charges against the TSA agent that touched me.

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To the douchebag in the Portland airport yesterday

Okay, so there’s a few Portland Airports, and there’s more than a few douchebags in each one.  This one was behind me in the TSA security line yesterday, and held the rank of Captain of one of the larger airlines.

Seems the TSA got a little crazy at the ABC security checkpoint, and was sending people all over the place.  The “First Class/Elite/Crew” line was full up with not only the First Class/Elite/Crew folks, but also everyone from mothers with spastic five year old triplets in need of Ritalin, to Great Granny who enjoys a cushioned ride on the piss-stained wheelchairs while explaining to all that she’s “never been on one of them new-fangled aeroplanes before”.

So this Captain, already pissing people off because he’s cut the line — which I actually support — is making snide comments.  Okay, a man after my own heart.  But he starts going off about the TSA, which again is fine, but not when you start lying about crap.  A TSA agent was nearby, so I asked why they got rid of the “Preferred Traveler” line, which would keep us from stepping in Granny’s piddle puddles when we take off our shoes for X-ray (thank you, moronic shoe bomber!).  Before the TSA agent could respond, the Captain starts badmouthing them.  “Don’t like it? Blame the unions. Unions rules won’t let them open up another lane and made them close the preferred traveler lane here.”  Blah, blah, blah.

Listen Captain Fucktard, I would be VERY careful with the union bashing.  First things, YOU BELONG TO A UNION!  Do the initials ALPA or USAPA mean anything to you?  They’re there to work on YOUR behalf.  Sure, unions gave up a lot during the economic downturn after 9/11/01.  But it would have been worse WITHOUT the union representing you.

Second, get your facts straight.  The TSA is NOT unionized!  Being in a union yourself, you should have known this, but you obviously have your head so far up your ass that your sunglasses have more skidmarks than your underwear.  First off, President Bush, who created the TSA, would not let it be unionized, and threatened to veto any bill sent to him that allowed it.  Hell, just the TALK of unionization derailed the first person President Obama nominated to head the TSA, and is affecting the second person nominated for the job.

So get your head out of your ass, Captain, and get your facts straight.  And next time, remember – you represent your airline when you spout off in line.  Shut your pie hole if you can’t be at least congenial, or travelers like me will know – and AVOID – your airline.

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