Category: Grant

The Determination of the Average Blogger (tribute)

Originally, we started discussing Under the Jet Bridge as a book. We were going to put ideas on travel, tips and baggage nonsense. We were sitting under — er — probably on top of a jet bridge and enjoying those cheap little flavored ice tubes. As the idea was growing Mike says:

“I just want to tell people. I just want to let them know about how to act in an airport.”
“Yeah I know,” Brandon started. “I listened to this guy literally yelling at a gate agent because of weather issues. I think he was foreign.”
“Maybe he didn’t understand.”
“Meh.”

This is how most of our conversations end, ‘meh.’ It’s worthwhile to think about but it’s not worthwhile to pursue any further. For some reason this particular day resounded with, well silliness. With horrible supervisors, hot weather, huge bags and disruptive people. The idea lay dormant, until we finally agreed to try a blog, try writing just about the nonsense we witness daily.Not specifically about us. Not a travel blog and not to pretend we know a lot about everything (we don’t). Just to write about this.

The idea was fashioned more like a Lewis Black rant. Let’s find something that irritates one of us, get mad about it and write gobs of comments latent with profanity.

It’s been over a month. We’ve scrounged around with full time jobs, trying to be students and working around our general depravity and we’ve come to a conclusion:

This is tough.

Only now we’re starting to realize that not only is there a huge amount of writing and research for creating a blog. There’s a huge amount of planning ahead. Like, ‘keep this in mind so you can write about it.’ There is tons of ‘come up with something creative’ and ‘talk to people who you want to pay attention to you without selling out.’

The problem is you can always, ALWAYS do more. You could talk to more people, you could comment on more things, tweet more, make more friends, pay closer attention to what they say. Watch news articles with more vigor and have more opinions.

Don’t worry, we have more. We’ve recharged our batteries. But we feel like we need to pay forward a little, and bring a little good measure so here’s a huge thanks to our supporters so far. Especially Heather Poole, the wonderful Flight Attendant who just keeps boosting our egos. Russell Working, the insight in writing give us hope. And, naturally there’s a huge group of travel writers who hold blogging to the utmost regard: Ava Apollo, Johnny Jet, Tiny Girl, and finally Further Bound thanks for living out our dream!

You guys are determined, we appreciate that 🙂

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Missouri Hair of the Dog (it’s about drinking)

I have friends who are nervous fliers. I also have had one too many the night before, but rarely, if ever, have I zombied through TSA checkpoint at 4 a.m., found my gate for the 6 o’clock departure and thought, ‘damn, I could really use a beer.’

It’s slightly old news, but it’s news nonetheless. But now people flying out of Lambert-St. Louis international airport can enjoy a drink before their 6 a.m. departure to either Dallas, Newark, JFK, O’hare of Atlanta (if you’re going any place else you’re not making a connecting flight and you’re not leaving, willingly, at 6 a.m.) It’s not big news, nor great news, and their are other airports in the U.S. that allow drinks in the morning. But it’s interesting because of the rationale behind (if any).

Is this new agreement for the passenger’s sake? Or maybe it’s economically sound to bring in a couple of more employees for the morning shift. It is, after all, a HMShost airport. However there seems to be hardly any stipulation on rationale behind this. A quick view of the local media outlets all spout the same thing: you can now drink starting at 4 a.m. at Lambert-St. Louis (Brandon just flew through there and said you’d need alcohol to handle the terrible Starbucks service).

My Financial World gives a good long piece about people flying from the East Terminal (primarily all Southwest flights with a couple regional flights) but Topix and local News Channel 4 are vague.

Again, it’s not CrankyFlier newsworthy, nor is it Airline Reporter worthy (two airline writers that we here at Under the Jet Bridge owe so much material to) but it’s interesting to consider. Booze is one portion of our lives that many people can talk about. It’s the sports team that everyone has an opinion on and the greatest thing is, there really aren’t that many sports teams to follow. Even if you abstain from drinking, you can talk about why you don’t drink. It’s a universal topic which makes it news worthy, right?

Is it necessary to cut off the hangover early in the morning? Or should you be required to suffer until drinks are served on the plane? Add two parts bourbon, a splash of dark port and a handful of Californian raisins. Serve in a low-ball with ice and I’ll see you in the exit row because I want to stretch my legs.

 

The HMSHostest with the leastest

Okay, so this takes big cajones. Buying a Penthouse magazine when you’re flying coach. That has to be one of the biggest investments that may never actually pay off until you’re home or in a hotel. You’re going to sit next to someone who disapproves, guaranteed. And if you’re not sitting next to someone who disapproves you’re suddenly sharing the moment with some pre-pubescent boy who’s mother will disapprove.

Ballsy.

The next boldest thing (this sounds like a Taco Bell commercial, poorly written) is service employees expecting tips for poor service or, worse, expecting tips for performing their required duties.

We write about airport things so I’ll stick with the airport to give aim to this article, I’m not ranting about Alicia at Olive Garden and my empty breadstick basket.

Ever heard of HMShost? they’re big. If you know of them you know they’re big and if not here’s the ice-cream scoop. They’re not huge but big enough.

With over 26,000 employees, HMShost stocks a majority of airports with food services by purchasing franchises and placing lower wage workers into these establishments. The workers, then, work for a certain percentage of tips with their wages (excepting some small magazine stands) for their performance at the establishments.

HMShost, like all companies, is liable for having a handful of mediocre employees. In fact, it’s statistically impossible to get all good employees. But rapid expansion may have contributed to mediocre middle managers resulting in impoverished quality in terms of food preparation and service.

The real problem is, if you hadn’t heard of HMShost, you don’t care who is holding the franchise of various restaurant names. You care about the name. So that barista at Starbucks is a barista hired by a manager linked up to Starbucks HQ, but really only trained by Starbucks and hired by HMShost.

It is guaranteed that Starbucks and Chile’s Too and Wolfgang Puck all help train these various employees, but after training, after they’re in front of customers, these employees are children under step-mom’s supervision and step-mom is impartial to their quality of life and their performance.

In all honesty, if I were the head of customer relations for Starbucks or Chile’s Too, Dunkin Donuts and rest I’d be at a loss for words. Good service is becoming a huge rarity at these establishments, almost a joke in its own. In the end it reflects on the company at large, not the company that holds the franchise.

Rarely does anyone rave about airport food. There are certain expectations when it comes to paying $10 per meal and part of these expectations are coherency and a little smile, or something.

What is raved about are a couple of innovations, like being able to order your food from your gate via cell phone in Vancouver. Okay, that’s spiffy. Doesn’t mean the food’s better but less walking for more money could be sweet.

I don’t believe in personal experience as pinnacle of a good argument, in fact personal experience makes for a very bad argument. But I have witnessed poor service because of lack of tips in these establishments, short tempers, incoherences and overall general lack of concern for their work. Either something is wrong in the incentives department or the discipline department or both. The only problem is, people don’t care. Passengers are more worried about the fees they paid for their carry-ons or checked bags, they don’t care about the poor service in the Terminal.

They should, but they don’t.

This is to bring to your attention, though, that those people employed at airports are not always Starbucks employees, but more than likely some huge conglomerate that is leeching off the brand of others. You should bring your bad experiences to HSMhost, show them that you would really enjoy some kind good service with your food.

Sorry, I still want to play with the buying a porno for an American or United flight. What if the kid’s mom, the kid you’re having a moment while admiring some poor saps daughter, what if the mom is really cute? Do you ever think that the bonding between her kid and you won’t pay off in the end. Imagine that you get to know mom, that you guys like each other. And in the end, when the last stone is turned over, when your hand is forced at dinner over an empty basket of Olive Garden breadsticks, it comes to tlight that you and Jimmy were looking at Ms. August together, under the little personal lamps of an MD-80. Ha, that’s kind of funny.

The Grounder’s Dictionary 1.2

Let’s face it, the airport is super scary. At least here in Amurica we don’t let our police officers carry submachine guns. *cough* Yet. The next update of the Grounder’s Dictionary is here to protect your mental integrity. Here are more of the terms you need to know, and if you don’t know you need to click here to read the other ones.

Bro-Dude, noun: term coined by Under the Jet Bridge. The person on a flight (duration longer than 2 hours) who pays no attention to any other living being in a twenty-foot vicinity. Smells like Axe body spray or Brut Cool Blue aftershave.

Catchin’ the egg, phrase: used by Ramp Rats (or concrete seamen) used to describe the action of marshaling a plane to stopping position. Uses: “Hey, yo. You gonna catch the egg or me? I caught the last egg straight on the T b—-.” Common replies are “Hey yo, f— you, you dirty b—– t—- smoking t—- twisting poop shovel.” Ramp workers are very inappropriate people.

Gate-Check, noun: a term invented as a dirty-rotten no good dry-heave inducing trick by commercial airlines. It was discovered to create confusion in innocent flying bystanders as to which bags they are required to pay for, and which bag they can sneak onto the plane.

Epaulettes, noun: the tiger stripes on the pilot and crew members shoulders. Numbers reflect the amount of alcoholic beverages the wearer is allowed one hour before flight. Meaning the less stripes, the more work they have to do.

LEO, noun: after 9/11 Law Enforcement Officers wanted to re-brand themselves as a more vicious, secretive group of agents regardless of their credentials. They consulted advertising agencies, stoned copywriters and various pentagrams. Eventually their leaders noted the average amount of birthdays between July 23 and August 22 in their officers, which was the exact same distribution as every other astrological sign. They decided lions are cooler than twins and bulls and now call themselves LEOs.

Overhead Bin, noun: future term for ‘emotional baggage.’ Shrinks are now sitting patients down and asking “what are you stuffing into your overhead bin today?” to which they reply, “doc my overhead bin is overflowing as if Carry-ons were still free.”

Gate-Agent, noun: individuals without the upper body strength to preform the daily duties of the ramp AND/OR who have demonstrated better, less offensive people skills than ramp agents.

Counter Agent, noun: an individual without the upper body strength to preform the daily duties of the ramp AND without the demonstrated people skills of ramp agents. These individuals typically build up a hight tolerance of TSA agents and can interact with them in what would be fatal amounts for ‘normal’ individuals.

 

Make a Flight Attendant smile, toss peanuts at the dude.

They’re always there, each flight there’s The Dude. Nowhere near as cool as Jeff Bridges. He talks on his phone until he’s asked to turn it off three times, he orders some complicated nonsensical drink which a bartender at the Hilton wouldn’t recognize, he yells too loudly because he can’t adjust to the pressure change. That dude.

Let’s change pace, un momento.

Flight Attendant’s come in categories and these categories are reflective to your age, sex and general demeanor. FA’s have an amazing ability to change their level of service depending on who you are . For this Attendants get a nod of appreciation. Master’s of the ocular pat-down (yeah I stole that, you figure out where) they’ll sum you up, set you down, make or break your flight. The expertise that Attendants typically exercise is phenomenal and preternatural. You’re young, hip, arrogant, they know, they’ll give you the eye during the ‘turn off your shit’ phase. You’re elderly, kind, and generally aware of your surroundings, they’re going to help lift your carry-on.

Then there’s the dude. Who they’re going to treat well regardless, because it’s their job. And they’re going to talk about him later on, either in a crew lounge, or while commuting to their hotel for the evening. If they’re ending the shift, well, that dude will be there somewhere lurking in the abyss.

This is now our point of view, here Under the Jet Bridge and it stands that our POV is not appropriate for every person, age, race, preference nor style. But as twenty-somethings, working in the airline industry, breaking the handles off of people’s luggage and, sometimes, feeling bad about it (I’ve left a sorry note once), we have a point of view. We smile at FAs. The female attendants that are older than us, we try to charm, be on our best behavior, speak loudly and make eye contact, give simple drink requests and have our trash at the ready. Young females, well, we turn up the charm, check our hair, whatevs. Male FAs, you guys are like distant cousins, regardless of age, you’re in the trenches, smellin’ the mustard gas and puttin’ on airs with asshole-dealin’-swag.

Whether burnt out, dead tired, or kind of craggy and scary looking, FA’s drive the business that is the airline industry. That smile sells reputation and reputation is what people bitch about on the internet (a very scary place).

Then there’s the dude. He’s there, two rows in front or behind you, opposite the aisle, trying to play Words with Friends or Draw Something, shoving his gum under the lip of the back seat pocket and trying to hide his headphones under his hoodie. He’s a dick

I’m satisfied we’ve established this.

Now, we’re not fiends of karma, we don’t think that every bad person gets his come-uppins and we don’t believe in taking the law into our own hands. But the tube of an airplane is a society, a microcosm not unlike a county. You get all breeds of bacteria (people too). There are real-estate mongers who monopolize the bathroom, you’ve got Federal Air Marshals sticking out like a Secret Service Agent in a Columbian Cathouse (too late?) and you’ve got the dude.

Now, dude. Brandon calls him the Bro, because he has on a Giant’s hat sideways. Bro Dude, regardless of your next stock trade, or informing your wife when and exactly where to pick you up, you got to adhere to a couple of rules.

But past those rules you need to understand the society. Every person on this plane is the Drake or Magellan or Hilary Clinton, even if we’re not representing the places we come from, or the ways of our people, we must tread carefully over the potential cultural differences between us. Mainly to avoid a arm-rest turf war. By adhering to the ‘pay attention law’ you may find yourself in better favor with the powers that be i.e. (Latin lesson of the day! id est: that is) your wonderful Flight Attendants.

When you don’t, the cool part is, you won’t know. You won’t fathom that you’re the Bro Dude, the guy who’s pushing everyone’s buttons. When you wake up though, suddenly from your apnea coma and you find a pretzel or a peanut on your lapel, you’ll shake it off. No worries says the Bro Dude.

We’re there though. Us twenty-somethings. Us guys who take a little law in our hands. We’ll be the guys sipping on a ginger ale and Jack. We’ll be the guys with an open bag of peanuts on our tray tables. We’re the ones who woke up your disfigured, sleep-terror face. Then we’re going to post something on Twitter about it, just for giggles.

The Grounders Dictionary

For a little clarification on the insider terms of the airline industry, we’ve put together some definitions. If you hear these things being thrown around the airport, let us know!

Concourse, noun: (latin) Con-with course-purpose; buildings designed on their inherent implausibility. Oftentimes modeled after mice mazes, the purpose of the concourse soon became apparent when one could drop off their elderly, dementia-ridden in-laws and never see them again.

Face, noun: term to describe how one airline pilot approaches another airline pilot. Interactions include never actually talking about airline related subject matter to protect the parties respective ego, but instead to refer to the opposite sex as “nice” or “appealing” because men can no longer safely objectify women in the workplace. Common phrase is “I gave face to that United pilot, we talked about a sweet stewardess.”

Flaps, noun: the only technical aircraft related term every man knows between the age of sixteen and seventy-two. Used auspiciously to impress the person they are sitting next to. A common phrase is “hear that? that’s the flaps. Yeah, I’ve flown a lot. The flaps come down for landing and create a low-pressure-air-whirlpool-wooshy-bubble around the landing gear to, you know, protect it. It’s really, very technical.”

Grounder, noun: an individual who works various functions on the ramp of an airport. Curses often, hardly sober, sometimes considered the seamen of the airline industry depending on ethnicity, hair length, assumed sex and shank preference.

Non-Revenue or Non-Rev, noun: an individual who is traveling for nearly free on airline related benefits. Divided into two groups there are the Ghosts and the Army Buddies. Ghost Non-Rev individuals are well dressed, quiet, and sit near the gate with anguished hope in their eyes. Army Buddies talk incessantly to airline workers regardless of their position and try to somehow relate to their work, they rarely if ever succeed and oftentimes are mistaken for perverts trying to hit on the gate agents.

Jet Bridge, noun: the fallopian tube of passenger walkways. The first opportunity to smell the other persons you will be traveling with and adjust your head scarves and perfume ratios accordingly. More prayers are conducted here than churches, synagogues and mosques combined. Typical prayers are “please do not let me sit beside the man with food crusties around his mouth and a trip-XL Texas Longhorn jersey on.”

PAX, plural noun: industry term referring to multiple passengers. Aircraft that often have continuous mechanical issues are referred to as PAX Sacks because of their high likelihood of the aircraft placing each individual on-board into body bags.

Standby, noun: an individual hell-bent on getting to their next layover earlier. Often standing by the gate agent, pouting or smiling with bile, and trying to start a conversation with every other passenger who approaches the gate agent. Comparable to the kid in college who would laminate his notes, the standby somehow thinks they are ‘more informed’ than other travelers because they ‘know’ about the earlier flight and are, therefore, entitled to ride.

Secret (Travel) Agent Man

To call or not to call.These days it’s not a reason of why, but how to find a good travel agent.  Travel agents (who occasionally prefer the term travel consultants) are experiencing a revamp in business. What was once thought to be the dying service is seeing an influx of patronage from a wide demographic of people. If you Google “Why Travel Agents” you’ll see a huge number of hits (531,000,000) and at the top of the list are some very compelling articles. Larry Olmstead writes a great account on Forbes.com as to why travel agents are necessary here and here. Olmstead articulates the argument so well that there’s hardly any need for this post to address why agents are necessary.

The problem isn’t justification, though, but convincing people to use an agent. Travel consultants should be considered as any other specialized service; same as your lawyer, your accountant or even the firm who helps file your taxes. Like these examples the service comes with a wealth of information which, in the age of DIY (do it yourself) you could, plausibly, find on your own. What Turbo Tax and H&R Block do for you, however, is save you time by being convenient AND back you up when you get into trouble.

The difficulty of convincing people to pay an agent arises with sites like this or Sun Travel. Both are top hits on Google. Like all industries, self promotion is the key to existence. However in the new age of Marketing and PR (a la David Meerman Scott among others) providing a laundry list as self promotion is typically dismissed by the audience as mirror self-inflation. A good lawyer may give you a list of testimonials, of client satisfaction or case-winnings, but they’re not going to provide a laundry list for why you need a lawyer. When you need one, you’ll go looking for one.

Travel consultants should learn the lesson. It comes off as amateur to simply list why you’re necessary. Assume you are necessary and provide testimonial by building an vast online support network via social media and blogs. Consider your clients, the people who book cruises with you, as repaying your services with a mention on their Twitter account. But, payment in this new age of consultants can’t simply be good mentions on websites.

In the revamp of the travel agent there also is a revamp in payment process. The new age of travel consulting is a tricky one. Agents are faced with very poor rates of return from bookings cruises, airlines, hotels and tour packages (some as low as $13.00 a head) because all these industries want higher return for their products. The less they pay, the better the margin of profit for Carnival Cruises and Super African Sufari. Essentially agents spend X amount of hours marketing, researching and selling and are thanked with mediocre returns on investment.

In answer to this some consultants have started charging for time invested, much like a lawyer. But the billings become vague and highly competitive with other travel consultants. Oftentimes there’s no real way of evaluating the value of one agent compared to another (even with customer reviews), so a well established self-employed agent may charge twice as much as a start-up agent yet provide the exact same services with the same resources.

What’s the solution? Buy local.

If your looking for an agent start locally: it’s like an organic movement but for a service industry. If you are a travel consultant market yourself locally. Tell what city you’re based in and why you like it, branch out to places where travel agents don’t typically go to like bars, restaurants and senior housing. Then online build yourselves not as Travel Agents, but people who are willing to research, argue, bargain and talk with customers for a nominal fee. As you grow diversify your clientele. Find a small company and offer your services. Then, not only are you providing families with great travel information but corporations too. You have created a portfolio which you can now use as a marketing tool, instead of writing self-inflation.

If you find, as a traveler, a consultant who really gets you, really molds to your needs (say they’re very terse and down to business and you dig that, or maybe they love to talk and you have hour long conversations while commuting home) let others know. This is part of the repayment. The other part of the repayment, the monetary part, should be discussed with your agent after you’ve booked one or two trips with them. Perhaps the solution to repaying your consultant should be two-fold, with marketing at one section. The other section, if they don’t already have a pay-up-front for consulting, would be a tip. A monetary tip based on the cost of your trip, say 10%. In reality they probably still saved you as much, and chose not to charge you some vague fee that would go into their pockets. You’ll be creating loyalty on both ends, the service provider and the client.

Have something to say? Leave it in the Tip Jar, we’d love to hear from you.

The Baggage Imperatives

As ramp agents, you know the three of us while we’re sitting around/on the jet bridge, we shoot the breeze. Typically we’re talking about co-workers or managers and supervisors etc. Like a typical job. But every once and a while we fall on tirades. One evening, while Brandon, Mike and I (Grant) were sitting around the luggage tirade broke like a tidal wave across southern California. There’s really no way I can describe the situation, who was doing what, contributing what where, or even how this conversation was drawn up from the well. You just have to take it on faith that we were neglecting our jobs, we were tired and I was humming something by Howlin’ Wolf for no apparent reason.

After the tirade though we found that there were a couple of rules of luggage. And these rules desperately needed to be addressed from, you know, a different point of view.

Now these imperatives should be considered between all phases of travel including: the purchasing of your luggage, the packing of your luggage and the relief of your luggage as you stuff it into corners of your basement and attic. And this is an ongoing deal. I’ll write it for now but I’m sure Brandon will whine about it and come up with something else that he believes is ‘more important for people who are redheaded.’ Someday you’ll see, he has red hair.

Imperative # 1 You could pay me to care, but you don’t.

It is critical to realize that after you check a bag at the counter, after it has gone through the dungeons of TSA agents and their gauntlet of terrors, every single person thereafter who will be handling your baggage is not paid enough to care about your luggage nor its contents. Coming to terms with this reality is the first step to travel freedom. OK. Maybe this is slightly unfair but if considered as a universal rule it is liberating.  The amount of hands that are going to be touching your luggage without your suspect is huge: counter agent, TSA agent, ramp agents of various airlines, jet-belly agents, transfer rampies and final destination throwers (that’s really when your bag is thrown). Now let’s play hypothetical, your bag mis-connects or is lost which means that other airline agents (whom you did not buy a ticket with, so they are not being paid to care) will rush (technical term, they’re not rushing) your bag to a flight that goes into your destination. That rush bag will then transfer hands to USPS, FedEx or UPS and then to baggage handling individuals. Besides FedEx and UPS and maybe, maybe American Airlines and Southwest people (who are the best paid in the industry) the hands on your luggage could care less about your luggage than their next poop. Grotesque? yes. True? Absolutely.

What it means for you: understand the risks of checking a bag. Combined, the airline industry moves approximately a million bags a day in the US alone (about 280,000 average passengers a day, per airline according to Wolfram Alpha). Statistically bags will be lost, smashed and stolen. There are just too many to have everything go right. To give the airlines the benefit they pull off an amazing feat. If 85% of all checked bags arrive at their destination then that’s 850,000 happy people. In reality they actually get nearly 97% of all checked bags to their destinations. There is always a slight chance you’re the unlucky handful and you should be aware.

Also, before we start casting stones at the airlines it should be considered that they can’t– not won’t– pay their baggage handlers better. With ever increasing operation costs it is nearly impossible to keep good workers on the ramp. Therefore when you pack your checked bag allocate your precious goods appropriately. Never, ever, ever pack expensive jewelry, prescription medication or pricey electronics in your checked luggage.

Imperative #2: Objectify your luggage like someone at a bar.

There are three things, only three, to consider when you purchase luggage for a trip  or plan to pack — Frequency, Duration, and Distance. The Flying Pinto has a great section on what’s the most appropriate bag for you which can be found here. But consider, while reading, the Frequency of your travels. Are you traveling once every six months or once every month? Even if you’re not flying consider how many times you’ll pack up to see Ma and Pa in Kansas City, or stay with your sister and her irritating husband in Portland.

Then consider for how long you’re going to stay. The Duration is key to how much you pack and remember, rollaboards (the nifty suitcases that trail along with you like some pariah dog) make you believe you can carry more than in actuality. You need to be able to lift your luggage. It’s requisite. Regardless of how long you’re staying it is your baggage, not the airlines, not your kids or brother-in-laws. Lifting your luggage is the right of passage of travel and unless you’re a child, disabled or elderly, you need to be self-sufficient. Learn a little something from Thoreau and rely on your abilities. Which correlates finally to —

Distance: how far are you traveling? Going to Europe? then consider how much more walking you will have to do. Typically people believe that the further away from home the more is necessary to pack heavy. This is a giant fallacy. The further you travel, the lighter the load needs to be simply because you will be more tired and, more than likely, you will walk/carry your luggage further.

Imperative # 3: Those bags which are lightest, get treated the nicest.

The lighter your bag the less likely it will be to break. As # 1 states, most people touching your bag won’t care about your bag. Your bag will experience at least three to four significant jolts and drops on a typical cross country trip. The average drop is six feet. Your bag will be dropped six feet multiple times. A bag that weighs 25 pounds has a much better chance at longevity than one that weighs 50 pounds.

Imperative # 4: Your bag will touch Purgatory before it’s over.

Bag rooms, in most major airports, have not been cleaned since their construction. Which means that there is typically a 70 year buildup of filth which is a mixture of dead skin cells and carbon-monoxide fumes. What it makes is an ash akin to what covered the people of Pompeii. Your bag with be dragged through this ash. Just warnin’ ya.

Imperative # 5: Regardless of what you fear don’t skinch on your bag.

Granted, everything we’ve written here makes it appear that you should buy luggage on the cheap and frequently. This isn’t the case. The bags that have the most problems are the cheap, ultralight pieces which are packed with too much stuff. This is how you loose a shoe somewhere in the depth of Denver. You don’t want to be that person who’s bag is sent up the carousel in the dreaded plastic casket. At the same time, don’t drop a paycheck on luggage. I love Freitag and their colorful hippie trips. But I refuse to drop $100 on a Dopp kit. Mid-line is the key. Never purchase a bag on aesthetic alone. Never ignore the style of simple practicality. The Flying Pinto and Heather Poole, both who travel for a living, more than likely own Travel Pro gear. Which is a little more high end but will take a beating. Again, fall onto our # 2, how often will you be traveling? for how long? and how far away?

Imperative # 6: Your bags love you, give love back.

Your luggage sits all this time without a purpose. Typically I find people shoving various things in their luggage to fill up space while it’s being underutilized. Which, really, is fine. Yet don’t shove them in your attic and pack pounds and pounds of stuff (like your burlap sacks full of duck decoys and the kid’s metal saucer sled) on top of it.

So this was huge. And I didn’t mean for it to be huge. But all these things are necessary when considering your luggage and traveling. Keep us in mind, share it, and let us know what you think!

The Ubiquitous Rules of Flying

We don’t like to be told what to do. Sometimes it’s as simple as driving five miles over the speed limit, but there’s a sense of pride that welters up when the nameless lady says: “The cabin door has been shut, please turn off all electronics at this time.”

I came across this article, aptly called ‘5 Thing Safety Presentations Should Mention‘ published on Cracked.com. Granted, it’s an article for entertainment purposes only, but given that over a thousand people gave it a Facebook thumbs up, maybe a couple things should be addressed.

#1 The Ubiquitous Electronic Rule

Please don’t misunderstand me, I love villainizing the airline industry, I do. What with checked bag fees etc. (all of which, if you consider for just a moment, kind of make sense but that’s a different story) I like to argue with the monster as much as any Giant Killer out there. Here’s the deal though, back in the day when cell phones gave out gamma radiation to Wall Street brokers in high doses, cell phones DID affect the plane’s navigational tools. Now, this issue has long been resolved but the lingering phobia still exist.

The question remains, then, why do we need to turn off our Nooks, Kindles, iPods and other miscellanea? Often the simplest explanation is the correct one: there’s no conspiracy in making you read the SkyMall magazine in the seat-back pocket. The reason is because people don’t pay attention when playing with their electronics. Take any Private Pilot course and you’ll learn that the most dangerous parts of flying are take-offs and landings. Meaning that,  if something were to go ‘horribly wrong,’ because we love Armageddon-ish catastrophes to, you know, fantasize about our true colors, it will happen while the plane is going up or coming down. If you find yourself  Tweeting about how you’re putting on your flotation device which you pulled from under your seat guess what: you’re doing it wrong.

Now the airlines don’t want to come out and say “hey, turn off your shit because we’re treating you like a class of third-graders” but that’s what they want to say. So they moved more respectively into the “Something may possibly, potentially go wrong so save your battery just for, like, fifteen minutes.” Deal Delta girl, I will look at the zombie garden ornament in this sticky catalog which feels like it’s been used in a NYC Subway toilet.

#2 I didn’t really have a two.

The rest of the article is funny in a nonchalant, like waiting for the DFW to ORD connection, way. Don’t crush the people behind you. Pay attention to your children if you’re flying with them. There’s a little jab in there, Tyler Durden-esq. about how calm the people are in the panic videos. Turns out if you suddenly loose pressure in the main cabin the crying yelling screaming child next to you would, surprisingly, shut down rather quickly. In fact, they’d probably be asleep. Lack of oxygen is a great pacifier. But it kind of goes to show, the rhyme and reason of the airlines isn’t always to make them money or to be bigots: it’s because they’re trying so hard to retain a somewhat respectable public face. Think of any other conglomeration of people who take your money and tell you what to do, I bet you don’t like them either. But I still like speeding a little.