Friday Fives – flying edition

Are you afraid to fly?  Do you enjoy it?

Love to fly.  Flying to me is like a dog’s relationship with cars.  Hate security and almost everything about the airport.  Super duper stressful.  Flying, though, it awesome.  What’s not to love?  Cruising across the sky at 700 miles an hour while sitting on your butt sipping whiskey and watching movies is about the best possible way to spend an afternoon.  Then, once you sit up, you are on a different part of the Earth.  Pretty great if you ask me!

What, for  you, is the over/under on what is drivable vs better to fly?

8 hours is a perfect cut off.  Doesn’t mean I won’t drive further.  We drive to Phx at least once a year, and that is about 15 hours.  We have that drive mastered.  We used to stop half way (Albuquerque) for sleep.  Now, we plow straight through.  Each person drives a full tank.  Once your tank is empty – stop for fuel and potty and snacks and now you get a four-hour break.  Now, if this were an entry about driving and road trips, I would do 500 words on why jerky is essential for car travel.  This is about flying, so let’s stay focused!   So, why drive 15 hours to Phoenix if I could fly there in 90 minutes? That is about other aspects – like having a car when we get there, having flexibility on schedule, and being able to take the doggies with us.

Any great flying/airplane stories?

This one.  I wrote about it before, so am just linking it here.  Short story is this.  Pilot told us we were held up due to a broken engine and some paperwork.  Then, 20 minutes later he said “we are clear to fly, we fixed the paperwork”.  Gee, that’s great and all.  But … uh… what about the engine, mister?

Any terrible flying/airplane stories?

Yeah.  Years ago we were heading to Florida for a vacation.  We had a super bad flight, because of a storm we hit.  Super bad.  Terrifying.  The plane shook, those masks came down, people were crying.  I was absolutely positive we were going to crash.  At that moment, I made peace with my death.  I literally sat there and thought “I have had a great life, I am with my great friend and my wife.  I have no regrets.”  But, we didn’t die.  When we finally arrived, though, the pilot was overheard to say it was the worst turbulence he had ever experienced.

Now, this hasn’t sworn me off of flying at all.  That is just part of the risk.  However, I would bet more than a handful of people who were on that flight never got on a plane again.  No one did anything wrong, though.  That is just the deal with zooming across the heavens.

People used to dress up to fly, and it was a privilege that people looked forward to.  With that said, what is the future of air travel?

it certainly has moved to a lowest common denominator.  However, that isn’t the airlines fault.  That is the consumers’ fault.  This is our own creation.  I don’t see anything getting better anytime soon.  Another thing it seems is that pilots aren’t the best anymore.  It used to be that airline pilots were ex military.  They had all flown Vietnam and had seen everything.  They also made a TON of money.  Pilots were rich, and you want your pilots rich.  Just like doctors.  Those pilots in that fatal crash in Buffalo were overworked.  They also had to moonlight because they couldn’t make a decent living just being pilots.

Again, I am not going to blame unions or big mean corporations.  This comes down to you and I – being cheap.

So, in summary, I love to fly.  However, a quick search shows I have a long history of also complaining about them.  See here, here, and here.  And, I can’t walk away from a story on flying without including this great video – United Breaks Guitars!

Why I matter so damn much

You know, I get to busy in this work a day world that sometimes I forget to slow down and remind you how right I usually am. Let’s change that right now, shall we. See, back in 2003 (You hadn’t heard the word ‘blog’ yet) I did a little story on United Airlines. United Airlines are simply poorly run. Always have been since I been here, and remain to this day. Anyhow, back in 2003 United was doing terribly as usual. They had a genius idea that to raise profits they would start a NEW airline.

Seems like an awfully expensive way to raise capital, don’t it? This new airline would be a low fare no frills carrier. Because it was United Airlines, I was immediately suspicious they were up to something retarded. They were. They went out and made a whole new airline called ‘Ted’. It was meant to be a play on UniTed, get it? Clever, until I found out that all Ted flights were MORE expensive than regular carriers. MORE money, less services. I did them one better in my piece ‘RetarTed‘.

So, why are we discussing this five years later? Turns out, Ted was a super bad idea. They never made any money, and the ticket prices were never cheaper for the consumer. So, with all the problems in the economy now, United airlines is shuttering Ted.

This has been rather satisfying for me, but sad too. See, United could have avoided this five years ago by lowering fares and negotiating with the unions to be more competitive. They didn’t listen to the market. Worse, they didn’t listen to me. There is a great quote from Richard Branson of Virgin fame. He was once asked how to be a millionaire. He answered, quite seriously, start with a billion dollars, and open an airline.

My point being, I was right. I was correct. I warned you and you didn’t listen. You would be wise to start reading here more. Then, quote me to your friends (often). Then, when my prophecy-like visions come to pass… you will look like a genius. See what I do for you, readers?

Now I remember

You know, I have been so busy this week with remodeling my kitchen that I almost forgot to take some time to hate United Airlines. No worries, though, they stepped up to the plate like champs… as they always do. See, United went bankrupt a couple of years ago because of super bad management. Super bad! Don’t tell me it was after effects of 9/11, or any of that horseshit. Southwest kept flying and kept making money. Anyhow, United demanded the government bail them out and pay all of their debts. The government, wisely, told them to f themselves.

So then United, in an effort to prove how horrible they are… canceled all of their employee’s pensions. This leaves the Federal Govt (ie; you and me) to pay for these pensions for long time employees. Problem also is that the pensions would only be paid out to lifetime employees at about 40% of their original promised value.

That was then, this is now. We don’t worry about them anymore because we fly Southwest Air now to Denver. Guess what United decided today, with the company still failing in bankruptcy, and still nowhere near ever making a profit?

United CEO could get $15 million in stock

Three executive vice presidents at United would pocket restricted stock and options worth $6 million each, and four senior vice presidents would each receive equity grants worth $3 million. Thirty-one other company officers would each get $750,000 in grants, and 366 other managers would receive $100,000 in equity.

Wow. I mean, just… WOW. The company went teets up, laid everyone off, went into bankruptcy, reneged on the retirement for all their employees… then gave the suits Millions. Come on, what the shit is that? No wonder the company can’t stay aground, they are too busy paying off management. Long story short, don’t fly United.

By the way, I was right

Being the webmaster of a website so bracingly pretentious as ‘I am Correct’ means I need to back it up… and I do. Here is another example of how correct I was. Four or five years ago I was laid off here in Denver, CO. I needed a job, a good job with a good company. After being in telecom far too long, I was looking at a fresh start in a new industry. I was willing to take a good job almost anywhere. It didn’t even have to be Colorado, if the money was good enough.

Having said that, there were two companies who I absolutely refused to apply for. Both of these companies are very big and successful and have a huge presence in Denver. I vowed to be a lawn mower Technician 2 before I ever even considered working for either Qwest or United Airlines. Boy, was I right! Since then, United has had every union under the sun strike, dropped their employees pensions, and filed for bankruptcy. Just last week, United offered to pay Denver one fifth of the millions in back taxes they owe Denver. See, United figured they were such a boon to Denver’s economy that they didn’t have to pay taxes on anything. They felt we should be happy to have them. That worked until they laid everyone off and went bankrupt. Denver’s mayor was so stunned that United was finally going to pay Denver he said it was a ‘victory for everyone’.

So, their solution was to threaten Denver’s mayor to build them a whole new concourse and wipe out their debt. Denver’s mayor (Wellington Webb at the time) handled it wonderfully. He went on TV to rip up United’s threatening letter to the city. If you have read this site for sometime, you know I rip on United. It is also because their rates suck, and their ‘discount carrier’ costs even more.

Anyhow, point made about United Airlines. The other company I wouldn’t work for is Qwest communications. They got well known for shady deals and constant lay offs. We had a girl leave our company to go to Qwest. She got laid off on her first day of training for Qwest. Plus, they handled things badly. They bought out US West, who left under such a public relations nightmare it became comical. So, how does Qwest come in to right the crappy ship in the public’s eyes? They raised all their rates across the board. That did this at the precise moment the cable companies starting offering phone service. The phone company monopolies were over! So, how did the phone company grovel for loyalty? They jacked the rates up! Bad move.

Anyhow, I say that to say this: I am proud of standing up to both Qwest and United. Today, they announced indictments against their racist ex CEO Joseph ‘Ralph’ Nacchio. 42 counts! Another asshole CEO is going to jail. I can’t take all of the credit, but I will try.

I don’t keep enemies, but I have had a few. Betsy Hoffman, Gary Barnett, United Airlines, Qwest, Tom DeLay, and terrorist spy Robert Novak. I have tried every single of them (but one) in the court of public opinion right here in these pages. The result, unanimously guilty. As for Novak, what he did is so unthinkable he simply deserves to die for threatening American undercover operations around the world. I’ll get to him soon, I assure he will be neither be forgotten nor forgiven in these pages.

that came off a little ranty, didn’t it? It’s the painkillers.

United Airlines Sucks

If you are a longtime reader here, you know I hate United Airlines. They have consistently been a major pain in the ass to Denver. Obviously the jobs they provide aren’t terrific, because their folks are ALWAYS on strike. They aren’t bringing much to the economy of Denver because they haven’t been paying their gate fees to the airport (which the city owns… meaning our tax base counts on those dollars). They treat the city horribly and are always threatening us to give them new stuff for free.

Now they are asking the Government to pick up their retirements. That means if you worked for you United and spent 20 or 30 years socking away savings with the company… you are about to get Enron’d. Here, let them say it:

how does it save them money when the executives and upper management continue to get pay raises and bonuses and their pensions are not harmed?” Porter asks. “United is also putting millions of dollars into a new renovation at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Why are they spending the money to do that instead of taking care of their people, their front-line customer service people who have given them so many years of loyalty?”


Where I come from we call that getting ‘Enron’d’ and all of those a-holes are in jail now or soon will be. In the meantime, America… fly Frontier!