The Joys of Air Travel—Part 1

I have been remiss in updating the RonnBlog, so for those regular readers (thanks, Mary!), I apologize. I have lots of reasons for my absence, and one of them is travel.

Since my last entry, I had the opportunity to spend a week traveling to Raleigh-Durham, Baltimore, Chicago and Dallas…7 flights in 8 days. And I have returned with some observations.

Observation 1: The merger between Delta and Northwest has gone amazingly well, especially if you are old enough to remember when Northwest merged with Republic. In the early days, I felt that Northwest had great systems and disgruntled employees, while Delta had friendly people and terrible systems. It seems they have managed to combine the best of both: the employees seem more happy,  friendly and helpful, and their systems are getting better.

Observation 2: There seems to be a training opportunity for all airlines: helping gate personnel operate jetways. More than once during my recent trip, we arrived safely and ahead of schedule, only to wait for the jetway to be successfully maneuvered into position. Seems like a fairly simple procedure: go forward or back, left or right, up or down, and don’t smash into the aircraft. Yet there seems to be quite a few gate personnel who have not mastered their technique. Maybe they could practice during slow times.

Observation 3: I am astonished at the use of cell phones by air travelers. They apparently have an interesting set of beliefs: that anytime they aren’t doing something else, they should be on the phone; that they should be on the phone even when they are doing something else; that we will all be interested in hearing their conversation, so they should talk as loudly as they can; that a good use of cell phones is to call someone in the few minutes between boarding and when the cell phones must be turned off, whether or not you have anything important to say or hear (the great majority of the calls sound like this: “Hey, what are you doing?…I’m just sitting on a plane…”); that in order to meet someone at the airport you must call them immediately upon landing and announce that you have arrived at will meet them at baggage claim (how did we ever find each other before?). I suspect that most of these people have unlimited calling plans and/or do not pay their own phone bills. Nor do they care who hears their conversations, despite not knowing who is sitting around them. Probably a great way to pick up competitive information: just hang around the airport and eavesdrop on conversations.

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