Thursday, December 31, 2009

Starting over at zero

As with most of you, I’m starting over at zero tomorrow.  The chase for 2011 status begins as soon as we party in the new year.  I’m not sure what kind of travel 2010 is going to bring for me.  The pattern over the last couple of years is that I’ll do a whole bunch of intra-continental travel punctuated with a couple of long inter-continental trips.

I’m not so worried about the inter-continental trips.  They will fall where they will.  I am a bit more worried about travelling south of the 49th for business now.  It’s going to be a huge inconvenience to make my over night business trips while having to check luggage.  As a result, I’m working hard not to have to head south until this whole “no carry-on” policy is rectified.

As anyone starting a race knows, it’s good to get out of the blocks, but to also pace yourself.  As a result, my first trip is going to be a Jan 1-4 blast out of town to see some family.  Instead of the easiest route to my destination, I decided instead to do something more circuitous.  Both inbound and outbound I’m booked on three flights, each under five hundred miles in length.  Each direction also includes two segments on the infamous Dash8, and one is even on the wee little Dash8-100.  Luckily I was able to secure a very respectable business class rate so my middle leg in each direction is going to be in the comfort of a much large, and less noisy, seat.

After this trip I’m home for a good little bit so as not to burn myself out too quickly.  Once February and March roll around, things start to pick up for me though.  All in all, I’m currently scheduled for nineteen flight segments by March 12.  There will be more to come about all the trips and I’m hoping for one other big announcement too.

Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The hunt for power

As I’m sure many of you frequent travellers know, hitting the airport and being able to (re)charge your mp3 player, laptop, mobile phone, etc. can be an adventure.  If you’re up in the lounge it’s not such a big deal as most seem to have an ample supply of plugs available.  Down with all the plebes in the waiting area, well, it’s a completely different story.

It would seem that airport janitorial services have the longest extension cords ever made.  I rarely have seen an airport with power plugs that are close together.  As a result, there are very few of them to be found, and when you do find one, you’re probably either going to have fight someone to use it or there won’t be anything to sit on within range of your power cord.

All that said, there are a few things that can help you out.  First, see if you can get into the lounge.  Sometimes that’s easier said than done.  Second, look for a ‘workstation’ in the common areas.  They do exist in some airports and usually have a power plug in them.  Third, and I know this is random from airline to airline at this point, use the power supplied on the plane.

I regularly fly Air Canada and in anything bigger than a CRJ you’re going to find that each row of seats will have either a USB jack and/or a standard power plug.  For my non-laptop devices I only pack the USB connector cables.  This means that on most flights I can simply plug them into the USB jack on the seatback and charge away.  I’ve had to do this a number of times recently and it works great.  I’ve even been so bold as to plug in my phone (turned off) to charge while were were still boarding and had no problems letting it remain connected and charging through the entire takeoff process.  Boarding with an almost dead phone and deplaning with it fully charged is truly priceless.

Because I only ever pack the USB connector cables, I also take an AC to USB adaptor (mine has 2 USB connections on it) with me.  When in hotels I can easily plug it into the wall/desk and then charge my devices while sleeping and there’s no need to power up my laptop to do it.

In the end you’re possibly going to be stuck wandering the waiting areas of an airport, looking behind pillars, under window ledges and behind seating.  If you’re luck, and plan a bit, you might not have to do it as often though.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kitting out

I’m a notoriously light packer when I travel.  Not only that, but it takes me no time at all to complete packing.  For instance, on a standard four day business trip I’ll have my carry-on and laptop bag packed in under 10 minutes and waiting at the door.  Some of it is due to repetition.  Some is due to  organization.  Most, in my mind, is due to the kit that I have.

In my laptop bag goes my MP3 player, my 17” laptop (obviously) and it’s power brick, the USB cables for my phone and MP3 player, a wall plug to USB plug adapter, and my ebook reader.  Occasionally I need to pack a second laptop (13" tablet) and power brick so my laptop bag has to have pretty good capacity.  For planning, I always have all of these things sitting in the same spots on my desk.  When it comes time to pack, the repetition kicks in and I just grab the different things one after the other.

In my carry-on bag I always have a small shoe cleaning kit, a deck of playing cards, an international power adapter/transform kit (if required), and my toiletries.  Business clothes are easy to pack.  Count the days on the trip and pack close to that amount of dress shirts, socks and underwear and a pair of pants.  The key here is that you travel as you dress for work.  In my case, dress pants and shirt are my travel attire.  This affords me a second pair of pants and a shirt that can be worn both inbound and outbound.  Occasionally I’ll pack some gym clothes, but they do quickly add bulk to your bag.

Of all the things in my carry-on that have traditionally taken the most time to pack are the toiletries.  I’ve pretty much nailed this to a science now though.  In a bag goes the electric razor (which eliminates shaving cream from my liquids and gels quota), a toothbrush and other sundry dried goods.  I always keep a TSA approved bag (ask for two when you go through security next time) in my carry-on.  I pack it up with whatever is needed for the trip and place it in the outer pocket of my carry-on bag.  All told, this is will take about 2 minutes for me to complete.

I almost always pack exactly the same so I’ve got a pattern down.  I have set things up on my desk and in my bathroom so that I can quickly grab the needed items and convert them from home-useable to travel compatible.

If I was traveling twice a year I’d probably not bother with any of these things.  Since I do it multiple times per month I don’t want the hassle of spending a lot of time or the risk of forgetting something.  I certainly don’t want to be spending two hours packing a checked bag the night before a trip.  It’s all about speed and efficiency for me.  With my current routine I can wake in the morning one hour before I need to leave my place, do my morning ablutions, start packing, check emails and still make it out of the house on time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The rationale

After a number of years of very frequent flying all over the world I’ve decided that I should take some time to write down my thoughts.  I’ve already been blogging for a number of years over at Coding in an Igloo so this is nothing new to me.  I’m not sure how frequent I’ll be updating this site, but I’m going to try to at least comment on each trip that I take.

Being that I’m based out of YEG, I’m going to write about it, and the upcoming changes that we’re going to see at it in the future.  I’m also going to take some time to write about the other airports that I go through, but mostly so that I have a written memory of things at them, instead of in depth critiques.

I’ll also take the time to write up some trip reports.  My friends ask me about the travel portion of those journeys enough that I’m guessing some other people might get something from it too.

Being that I’m a certified business/first class junkie, I’m going to write mostly about Air Canada and the Star Alliance products.  While I’ve used WestJet in the past, they don’t meet my current transborder and international travel needs.  The result; this is quite possibly the last time that you’ll see them mentioned here.

As the blog is named From the Lounge, I’m also going to write up a lot of info on the Maple Leaf Lounge system as well as those other’s that I get into with my Star Alliance Gold card.

I have some confirmed travel (short haul) coming in the next couple of weeks that includes a very nice hotel stay (wait for the trip report).  I’m also working on confirming at least two significant international trips along with one transborder trip that I might just turn into a mileage run.