Saturday, January 16, 2010

Goodbye free airport wifi...oh, wait!

The Google free Wifi promotion is now coming to an end. During the promotion I only passed through 1 airport that was part of the promotion that didn't normally have free wifi...Monterey, CA.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Safety Hazard, Really?

No, despite the title this actually isn't about TSA.

Last night I was on an regional jet with only 1 flight attendant. The flight attendant was not a native English speaker. He pronounced the CH in Charlotte like the CH in chat. Little things like that don't really bother me because I'm sure I mispronounce city names all the time.

We were in the penalty box for 30 minutes for flow control into CLT and some passenger mid plane asked the FA to repeat what the pilot had said (the pilot spoke with typical pilot voice and I understood him fine, but people far from a speaker might not). the FA said there was a delay for flow control in CHarlotte. The passenger (who was very loud) started instructing him that it is pronounced SHarlotte like SHicago. The passenger asked the FA where he was from because "you sound Eastern European but you look Asian."

During deplaning some other passengers were talking about how they would feel very unsafe if we had an accident and that FA had to give instructions. I've been on flights with just 2 flight attendants where 1 was a native English speaker and the other wasn't and the one with the heavy accent spoke the safety demo. I never had a problem with it. I don't like getting sent to overseas call centers who don't properly train phone staff on how to resolve basic issues, but this FA would have gone through the same training as all other FAs for this regional carrier. The track record for pilots on regional carriers has come under fire a lot recently so I just hope the flight attendants are actually getting properly trained for emergencies...especially when they are the only FA on board.

If they let people who don't speak English onto airplanes then I don't see how someone fluent in English (his usage was fine, just his pronounciation of proper nouns was off) but with an accent is a safety hazard.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Travel Tip of the Week: Know where you're going

To go with my new blog name I figured I should offer tips to help you fly gracefully. Travel Tip of the Week #1: know where you're going.
Of course you've bought a ticket from XXX to YYY possibly connecting in AAA on your way there. If you're connecting in AAA do you know how to get from one gate to the next? I have many hubs fairly memorized and I try to stick to the hubs I know unless I need to fly another airline. If that situation arises I begin research. You could start this during the ticketing process, but I usually look the day before.

Most airline websites have something that should say Flight Status or something similar to this. It should usually be prominently displayed on the home page, but may also be under something like Traveling & Check in or Travel Tools if you have navigated away from the home page. Look up your first flight for yesterday and today and see what gates that flight usually uses for departure and arrival. Next look up you second flight and do the same. Then try to search for a map of the airport and plot your course. If you have enough time to eat, look for food options en route. Nothing is worse than waiting in line at the first food you see only to find your favorite restaurant farther down.

This shows me that Columbus, OH usually takes off from C53 or C54 and usually arrives in the higher end of B. The flight from Cincinnati to Cleveland usually takes off in the higher B gates so it looks like unless the gate situation drastically changes I will have just over an hour (subtract 30 minutes for boarding) to get from one flight to another.

I then google the airport code (in this case CVG) and map or sometimes "terminal map" if the airport code is synonymous with the city. I find this page and can see there is a Husdon's News, a bar called Ida's Seat and a burrito restaurant close by. If those don't strike my fancy, I can see all the restaurants at the food court aren't too far either.

  • Gates are subject to change and DO change! Don't wait by B28 unless a board confirms that gate.
  • Try to find the phone number or mobile address to check gates while taxiing in if you have a tight connection. In this example, the bottom of the delta page says 800-325-1999 is th delta number. will take a smart phone to the mobile site. If those aren't options, call someone who has internet access and make them look it up.
  • In many cases the flight attendant only gets a list of connecting gates on takeoff. If you are connecting in ORD just don't even pay attention because the gate has probably changed 3 times since that list was printed.

Delta Sky Club to change snack offerings

As many of you are aware, we have limited locations (ATLAtlanta, GA E for example) that offer pre-flight appetizers, which offer an increased level of food service. These select clubs are primarily aligned to support Delta’s international departures. We know that you also frequently comment on the overall selection and availability of snacks as we continue to harmonize the offerings of the pre-merger Delta and pre-merger Northwest locations. The change we are making will address both of these issues.

Starting on January 16, we will no longer offer pre-flight appetizers at the clubs where they are currently served in favor of providing a more consistent product across the entire Delta Sky Club network for longer periods of time throughout the day. We are very pleased that this will allow us to have a snack offering throughout the entire day a Delta Sky Club is open. Right now, for example, we serve an expanded snack offering from 4 – 7 pm but if you come to the clubs outside of those times, snacks are not available. (After breakfast, we are currently only offering pretzel mix, dried fruit, Biscoff cookies and Nutella). Therefore, beginning February 1, the expanded snack service will be offered from breakfast until the club closes all across the Delta Sky Club network.

We feel that working toward greater product consistency adds to the value of your membership for all of our members and is the right thing to do. We hope you enjoy the upcoming changes and yes, we will continue to listen to your feedback.

Now I mainly use the Sky Club for a quiet place with an outlet. As long as they stay quiet and they keep the outlets I'm still OK for right now. I was looking forward to trying the snacks at the ATL East club (not the one right across from McDonalds, the one down the concourse from that).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

For some, hassles dim the appeal of air travel

For some, hassles dim the appeal of air travel
Usually I just kick the USA Today into my room and go on with my business, but this article today struck me because it's what many of us have been saying for a while. I had only flown a handful of times before 9/11/01 and I'd never left the country before then so my experiences don't reflect back to the "good old days" before TSA too much. I did start frequent flying before the August 2006 liquids fiasco so I do reminisce back to those days. I love my job, but I'd love it more if I had a teleporter or if I could use NetJets or something like that.

Registration now available for Hilton first quarter promotion

Registration now available for Hilton first quarter promotion

What is in a name?

I figured it's time to do a little overhaul of this site and the first thing to go is the name. Originally this blog started out as me discussing eating well on the road. I didn't like that topic enough to post regularly so instead of being an anonymous Traveling Dietitian I am out in the open now as Grace. i decided to go through a few name iterations and tried to find a domain. I thought about Flying Gracefully and had a good image all mocked up (similar to the current one), then I wasn't going to be able to get a .com domain, just the others. I wanted a .com domain to have some legitimacy so I played around with -ing or not -ing. "with" or not with. Fly Gracefully got me a .com domain. It's also less clunky to type than the double g had.

The new name just enhances the irony of my name with my travel style. I am usually not very graceful and either cause a commotion at the TSA checkpoint or other places.

...there are more changes underway so if you RSS me, leave your RSS the same for right now, but if you actually go to me, update to

Monday, January 11, 2010

My luck with United e500s

I seem to collect United 500 mile upgrades. My coworker asked me why and I said I'm cursed when I use them and this is what I told her.
If I request to use them over a week in advance bad weather happens, flight 1 gets delayed, and I miss my upgrade on flight 2.

If I request them when I check in the flight gets delayed AND my upgrade does not clear. This makes them very useless to me and I can't wait for the automatic elite upgrades coming this year.

Just last week I decided to use some e500s because I was taking a redeye. I was #6 on the list with 8 seats remaining. Then eventually I was 3rd on the list and 3 seats remaining, then suddenly only 2 seats remained and I was still #3. I decided it would be better to not look at who was in F so I wouldn't speculate why I suddenly didn't make the threshold.

I had a connection after the redeye and the upgrade cleared on that. Then good old Mesa couldn't get the main door sensor to say the door was closed. After 45 minutes of messing around with the door they let us off (because it was cold in Chicago!). They made us hand around for an hour while they continued to figure out what was wrong. Pretty soon the next flight was coming up so most of us jumped ship onto it. I got the last coach seat available on that flight so I can't complain with United there, but I was supposed to get home at 10 am and instead got home at 3:30 pm. This really messed up my day since I had calls scheduled at 3 pm.

Do I need a passport to fly domestically?

I've been trolling yahoo answers quite a bit recently and this question comes up so much it is very sad.

There was a time a couple years ago when RealID was a hot issue where this was rumored to be true. States were voting to not enact RealID due to the cost of implementation and not enough federal funding. DHS/TSA struck back by saying people from states not RealID compliant (which was pretty much every state except NC) would not allow those licenses/IDs for travel. All states were quickly issued a waiver to prevent mass chaos. RealID still rears its ugly head, but there is no requirement from TSA or otherwise for US domestic travelers to need a passport. Presenting a photo ID as listed on the TSA website does help one get through the checkpoint without getting their stuff searched automatically, but photo ID is not *required*. This means if you are traveling and your wallet gets stolen your main concern should be getting your credit cards canceled and such NOT how you will get on your flight home.

So in summary: No passport needed for domestic US travel. Valid photo ID with name, gender, date of birth, expiration date is good, but with a search it is possible to go through without it.

My philosophy on carry-ons

When I buy a carryon I make sure I buy one that fits a size and can go wheels-first into most bins. I put my backpack below the seat in front of me. I rarely have problems fitting my roller bag into an overhead since I get to board in zone 1, but I also try not to be "that person" and ruin it for the rest of the people.

Although my actual ethics class didn't really use this method, I use the "If everyone did this would it be good or bad" method of ethics. If everyone who brought a carryon brought a 23" carryon and had to stow it sideways we woul have much less storage space. I bring a backpack that fits under the seat in front of me so unless I'm in a bulkhead it goes under the seat in front of me.