flight, travel

Travel Cheap (great ticket prices)

I’m heading to Japan for a year to teach conversational English and I needed a plane ticket to Tokyo one-way. I’m was only buying it a month ahead because I had to wait for all my paperwork to get processed before buying the ticket so prices on sites like Orbitz and Travelocity were in excess of $1000. Not ideal. I don’t have cash spilling out of my various orifices, so was looking to fly cheap or at least cheaper.

What I did was get in touch with Yung Mei Choi at STA Travel, she was an absolute pleasure to work with and was able to meet all the requirements of my flight. See, I needed to arrive on Nov. 30th by 4pm at Tokyo’s Narita airport. She found me a ticket for less than $600 that arrived in Tokyo at 3:55pm! The one catch (there’s always one) is that you need to be a teacher or student to qualify for the most amazing prices that STA has. And my ticket wasn’t even a deal by their standards, on the site they are currently advertising a flight from NY to London for less than $200 round trip, it used to cost me about twice that for a ticket from Seattle to New Hampshire.

You can buy tickets online from STA but if you want to be sure everything is awesome consider calling (212-473-6100). If anyone knows of cheaper tickets let me know, because I think this is probably the best deal going.

flight, random, technology, travel

Anyone Know How Orbitz Decides on Airplane Ticket Prices

I just bought a plane ticket from Boston to Atlanta from Orbitz. During my searching I noticed one very strange thing— the prices were different in different browsers. Using Safari (browser on left in image below) I wasn’t given the same price for what appears to be the same ticket found in Firefox (browser on right in image below). Not only were the prices different, but I wasn’t even given the same options of airlines and configurations.

flight, seattle, travel

Well *Ding* You Southwest Airlines

I’m not the most experienced flier, but I’ve flown enough to know what I don’t like.  On that this of things is lining up as soon as I get to the gate in the desperate hope of not getting the worse seat on the plane.  Another thing is being in an uncomfortable seat for several hours and being offered only gross snacks on a fairly long flight.  What does all this mean?  I don’t like flying on Southwest Airlines!

I flew from Seattle to Las Vegas to Manchester and then from Manchester to Las Vegas to Seattle, clearly not the most direct way to get back and forth, but it was (just barely) cheaper than some other flights. The trade off is having to stand for an hour to fight for a seat, and then sit in an uncomfortable Boeing 737 uncomfortable for the duration of the flight (6+ hours in my case).

Seating works like this: there are no assigned seats, you print a boardpass from the interweb the day before, it has either and A, B, C, or D on it depending on how many people already printed their boarding passes. Once you get to your gate you line up like cattle in lines labeled A,B,C, and D.  If you want to be at the front of your line you must get there powerfully early, don’t expect people to sit down until just before boarding.  Even if you are in line A you probably won’t get a very good seat, and if you are traveling with a large group don’t expect to sit together.

And bring your own food, unless you like those bread sticks with the fake gross cheese that I used to get packed in my lunch when I was a kid— those were good then, but they’re a punishment now.

I don’t know what it is about the seats, but I they are just unpleasant.  I know airplane seats are luxury, but for me these go above and beyond the normal discomfort.
The only pleasant part flight was the witty and snappy flight attendant on the flight into Manchester, though I’m guessing his routine is only enjoyable the first time.
I won’t even go into how much I hate the Las Vegas airport and paying $3.50 for a slice of the most disturbing pizza-like food I’ve ever eaten. I’ll leave it at this: STAY CLEAR!

People keep talking about JetBlue, so I think I’ll try them out next time.

[tags]airlines, travel, southwest airlines, jetblue, 737, las vegas, breadsticks n’ cheez[/tags]

flight, travel

Should it Have Been Funny or Sad?

Dear Internet,

The other day I was on a plane stuck sitting in front of loud people who described themselves as Neo Conservatives. Was the galaxy playing a “funny” trick on me, or a very mean one?

During take off and landing I was unable to shield my ears from their discussion and so I found myself alternating between fits of anger and giggles.

I nearly tore my ears off as the woman (let’s call her Ms. Showbiz for reasons I’ll get into later) explained that poverty will always be a problem because even if money was more fairly distributed there would be some people with more and others with noticeably less. Ms. Showbiz also pointed out that if America’s poor went to impoverished countries they would be well off. I won’t go into why exporting the poor isn’t a very viable solution, it’s just silly (and anyway, selling the poor might be a better idea, with thirty-seven million* people in poverty in America we could really get to work on our trade deficit). But lets just stop for a minute and think about the difference between being less rich and living in poverty. If you need a hint, the difference is the ability to own luxury items versus the ability to afford food, heat, shelter, and have access to things like quality healthcare and education. Big Screen TV vs. Antibiotics. I don’t know, seems like the difference is both different and important.

And Internet, the other thing that the man (let’s call him Professor Blackjack) said about Iraq and WMD’s, was that supposed to be funny? I couldn’t quite follow his “perfect logic,” but somehow the UN getting ejected from Iraq, his claim that Saddam’s generals even thought he had WMD’s, coupled with something about “always bet when you have eleven” justified the invasion and was, according to Professor Blackjack, “the end of the discussion.” I didn’t want to point out that debating the reasons for invading weren’t as important as a intelligent debate on how to end the war, much less that sound logic never uses gambling maxims.

In fact my dear Internet, the only part I know was supposed to be funny was Ms. Showbiz’s speech about why being on planes scared her. Particularly the digression where she explained that when she was younger she tried to be “Ms. Showbiz” and did modeling, dance, acted, and trapeze. Saying how it was good to have as many skills as possibly to land jobs. Because everyone knows that trapeze experience will put you way above the average actress. I heard that was why Meryl Streep got her big break. …Though to be fair it might have put Ms. Showbiz high in the running for circus fashion catalogs. I’ll give her that.

There was so much more, I laughed, I cried, I briefly considered building a twenty foot ray-gun to blast them and any of their similarly silly friends off the face of the universe with, but I’m just not sure which of those I was supposed to do. It was a confusing and difficult time, I’m just happy I escaped alive.

*according to the 2005 US Census thirty-five million people are in the United States are living in poverty, though there are plenty of good arguments for that number being significantly higher… and also some not very good arguments for it being lower.

flight, travel

The Flight

I flew to seattle via United Airlines… I think it was United Airlines anyway. The flight left at 5:45am Sunday the 3rd of September, 5:45am was a surprise to me. Apparently I have trouble with AM and PM, because I often get departure time wrong by 12 hours. Luckily I noticed this early enough so that I didn’t miss my flight (this time).

I like squeezing as much as possible into a short amount of time so I did as many things as possible before my flight and saved packing for last.below from quite far above That isn’t too bright of a thing to do for those wondering. I finished packing at 1:45am on what was technically Sunday and decided that it was far too late to sleep since I was afraid of missing my flight. It turns out that the crew should have been afraid of this too because they arrived 15 minutes late. Not a big deal, unless you’ve done something silly bought a ticket with a 30 minute layover in Cincinnati. I did that.

By the time I had exited the first plane I had just under ten minutes to get to the second. Not impossible, but certainly tough since Cincinnati (CVG) was planned by a team of hippy lemurs and you need to take a slow shuttle from certain terminals. Running like a madman got me there just in time… I’d like to say this was the first time that the folks at the gate greeted me by name without seeing any ID, but that would be a lie.

window seatAll said I made it to Seattle (SEA) just before 10am, thanks to time zone time travel. I didn’t sleep at all on the second flight because I’d slept just enough for the run between terminals to wake me up. Instead of sleeping I read some of Crime & Punishment and watched X-Men III (in-flight movie). This is my second attempt at Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, this time with a translation (Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) recommended by a friend, and it is making all the difference. The flight from CVG to SEA was pleasant and there were enough breaks in the clouds for me to see some neat-o stuff, like the photos in this post.