Nice Delta Pick-Up!

Lisa and I had three flights yesterday on our way to Charleston, and while the first one didn’t start well, Delta made major service recovery points at MSP.

Our Rochester to MSP flight was scheduled to leave at 6:40 a.m., but when we got on the plane we were informed that the ground crew had somehow damaged one of the armrests the night before and had not reported it. While a fix wasn’t needed, there was the dreaded “we have to fill out the paperwork” announcement.

So at about 7:30 we backed from the gate, but with only a 20-minute flight to MSP, were still in good shape for our 9 a.m. connection to Atlanta. That’s when we heard hat because of the fog, landings in Minneapolis were being modulated and spaced further apart, so we were going to need to wait 30 minutes to take off.

Now we were getting nervous, and that only increased as our wheels finally left the Rochester runway at 8:10. Upon landing in MSP at 8:33 and while we were taxiing, and knowing that we had to go from C12 to G15, I direct tweeted @DeltaAssist asking if they could get the boarding door held open for maybe just 5 extra minutes, since ordinarily the door would close at 8:50. I got a message back asking for my ticket confirmation number, but just as we were exiting the door to the jetway we were surprised to see a helpful, smiling Delta agent holding an iPad with my name on it.

She asked if I had a gate-checked bag, and I spotted it on the cart on the tarmac, so she opened the door and told us to follow. Here’s what happened next:

So we went from one jetway directly to the other, and were in our seats on the ATL flight by 8:48.

I’m pretty sure this had nothing to do with @DeltaAssist; I think it’s more a case of others’ connections being completely blown and the gate agent in MSP knowing that we could still make ours.

For a couple of other examples of Delta service (one that did involve @DeltaAssist) go here and here.


First-Class NWA Experience

I had an interesting experience in my 6:15 a.m. flight on Northwest Airlines (NWA) from Pittsburgh to MSP today. When I had awakened at 6:20 yesterday (without the alarm) after having arrived in Pittsburgh just before midnight (and not getting to sleep until 2:30 because of some remaining work to do, such as this blog post), I hurriedly logged on and checked in for my flight because it was within the 24-hour window, and I knew that frequent-flyer upgrades on NWA are offered in part on a first-come, first-served basis within a given Elite (Platinum, Gold, Silver) category. (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

It seems I wouldn’t have had to do that, as you’ll see in the video below:


Note to self: Fly at ridiculously early times on Saturdays (at least if you’re not starting at a hub city), and you have a lot better chance of getting a First Class upgrade on Northwest Airlines. Even if you’re only Silver Elite.

New York Trip Highlights

I’m in my hotel (Quality Hotel Times) at the end of a two-day trip to New York City. The location of the hotel was great, in that I was able to walk to all of my appointments and thereby avoid the nausea induced by NY cab rides. Tomorrow I leave at 4:15 a.m. for LaGuardia, so I’m hoping my cabbie will feel less need for the rapid acceleration and deceleration I experienced Tuesday.

One of the unexpected bonuses from my trip was getting to see a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman. Guests were Charlize Theron, Richard Belzer and Motley Crue. Other than using oxygen to metabolize carbohydrates, I don’t have a lot in common with any of them, but it was an interesting experience. Hard to imagine that people find this fulfilling, though.

Then I went to check out the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, to return a MacBook battery that had failed 11 months into its 12-month warranty. It turned out that this store is too busy to take walk-in appointments, but it’s open 24/7, so I had to schedule an appointment at 6:40 this morning to see one of the guys at the Genius Bar. The good news is I have a replacement battery. Here’s a little shot of the store from last night when it was hopping. The design of the store is every bit as elegant as the iPod, even if the video I shot isn’t.


After having dinner in the ESPN Zone last night, and watching both the Yankees and Mets lose in interleague play, I walked back to the hotel and caught some video of one of the big huge lighted signs in Times Square. Since this is a family-oriented blog, I decided to feature M&M’s instead of one of the less wholesome signs.


This all just is intended to document my trip to some extent, and also to show how easy it is to do so with the Flip, YouTube and a blog.

Change in Plans

“Wait a sec… I think I just… Yeah, I just had an idea.”

Lloyd Christmas, Dumb & Dumber

A funny thing happened on the way to Phoenix. As I was sitting in the airport in Rochester, Minn. I had finished a post previewing a series on using Facebook for qualitative market research, and promised that my next few posts would flesh out this concept step-by-step. But some First Class brainstorming on the flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix has caused me to think more expansively. I have some more details to work out, but as I do I will return to that concept of Facebook Focus groups as part of the the broader framework.

So here’s a review of my Sunday travel experience, and a look ahead to the Frost & Sullivan conference, from which I plan to be blogging.

  • Goofy TSA moment: It might not be exactly a TSA responsibility as much as a general transportation regulation issue. As I disembarked from the tiny plane that had made the puddle jump from Rochester to Minneapolis, most of the passengers were gathered around the door where the luggage that had been checked planeside (mine included) was about to be delivered. The area was packed, and I didn’t want to block the doorway, so I set my laptop bag in one of the chairs just inside the waiting area near the gate. The gate attendant noted that I had broken the plane of the doorway (as Marion Barber, III just did to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead over the Giants), so as I popped back in she said, “Sir, since you left the gate I’m going to need to have you show me your boarding pass.” Me: “You’ve got to be kidding.” Answer: “I’m NOT kidding. Regulations say that when passengers leave the gate area, they need to show their boarding pass.” This wasn’t a big deal. I pulled it right out of my coat pocket and it was quickly resolved. But to the extent that devotion to regulation enforcement has trumped common sense (she knew I had been on the plane, and watched me walk up the ramp and set my laptop bag 18 inches outside the gate and step back in), it’s a sign that Mark Steyn is right. If we’re entrusting our security to aggressive enforcement of the gate regulations instead of, say, the porous borders through which the next 9/11-type terrorists could enter, that’s a losing proposition.
  • Upgraded Seating. What led to my first-class brainstorming was being in, well… First Class. I had just gotten notification that I had achieved Silver Elite status with Northwest Airlines based on my travel for 2007. Our Carlson Travel group assistant had noticed that I had been booked in a middle seat, and sent my assistant a note saying that with Silver Elite I could book premium seats at no charge through anytime before the flight, and had changed me to aisle seats. I’m still not sure exactly how I ended up in First Class. If anyone can fill me in on how this Silver Elite thing works and what I need to do to have the best chance of getting upgrades, I’d welcome the explanation, because I’m really new at it, and it was nice to not be crowded, and to get an omelette instead of Pringle’s.
  • Spiritual Social Media. Because my first flight was at 7:15 and I didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 11:20, I didn’t get to go to church. I watched a John Piper sermon on my video iPod. I’ve written previously about how I appreciated what Dr. Piper and the Desiring God Ministries team have done with podcasts through their radio without radio initiative. Now R.C. Sproul, another of my favorites, also offers his daily radio program as a podcast.

After Dr. Piper’s sermon (and finishing another good book I’ll be reviewing soon), I was in a great frame of mind for heavy-duty brainstorming. I look forward to sharing those ideas as I refine them further. Meanwhile, the Frost & Sullivan conference is about to begin, in an hour or so, so it’s time to hit the showers after having gone for a run here at the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa. It’s a really nice place, and the weather is fantastic.

My next few posts will be about what I’m learning here. I attended another of these Frost & Sullivan events last July and blogged about it. I expect this one will give me lots of material, too.