Frequent Flier Mile Programs

I travel over a 100,000 miles a year so I have lots of miles and lots of experience with the airlines’ frequent flier mile programs.  I’m usually pretty loyal to United because they have a hub near me and I have 100K status with them, but when it comes to using miles, I’m partial to Continental.  They by far have the best web site, tools and programs to figure out when and how you can use your miles and to actually use them.

My favorite part about frequent flier mile tickets is that they are very flexible.  You can (at least right now) change the day and time of your return at any time without penalty.

For keeping up on frequent flier mile program changes, I recommend The FrequentFlier Crier newsletter. 


I really liked India, but I could still relate to what this author was describing. Maybe you have to have been there, but I was laughing pretty hard by the time I finished reading his weeklong journal, Trying Really Hard to Like India. I recommend the slide show.

All Stressed Out and Everywhere to Go

Hear, hear! Yet another article trying to convince people that business travel is stressful. Not only stressful, but bad for your health. Yet we only worry about the dollar costs …

French Quarter Festival in New Orleans!

We just got back from the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans. Although there were way too many people this year, we had a great time. Good music, good food and good company. We stayed at the Sheraton were we got a great deal from Hotwire. We ate lots and lots of yummy food. (Just don’t try to get vegetables in New Orleans!) We started out with dinner at the Red Fish Grill (we had to return another day to try the double chocolate bread pudding, yum!), had hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s, had a muffeletta from the Central Grocer (We brought home some of their olive salad so we can have muffelettas at home too), crayfish at Frankie and Johnys (their poboys were enormous!), jumbalaya and poboys at the world famous Mother’s (great bloody marys!), brunch at Commander’s Palace and oysters at Acme Oyster House. I’ve left out a few that didn’t live up to New Orleans standards.

When we weren’t eating we managed to squeeze in some music (although I was disappointed that Rockin’ Dopsie Jr played less Zydeco than usual and the Iguanas were out of town), wander around the French Quarter and take a riverboat tour of the last battlesite of the War of 1812 where 2,000 men were massaquered in less than 30 minutes.

High Tech Porta Pottys

While traveling in San Francisco, we ran into the following high tech porta potty. You put a quarter in the slot, the door opens automatically and you step inside. Inside you hit the door close button and enter the world of high tech bathrooms. To wash your hands, you just hold your hands over the sink. The water and soap start pouring automatically and after a time, they shut off and hot air blows out. When you leave, the whole bathroom cleans itself, including the floor and toilet bowl. There’s a warning sign telling people not to enter as people leave, as the wash cycle happens automatically!

High Tech Porta Potty

Control Panel


The Wall Street Journal has a column today about travel websites. In it the article I discovered this cool tool called SideStep that you can download from the Sidestep website. It installs as a toolbar in your browser, lets you search for flights and takes you to the website with the fare when you pick one.

Lost in Translation

There is an opinion letter about Lost In Translation in today’s edition of the Asian Wall Street Journal. The author of the letter, Salil Tripathi, argues that critics who say that Lost in Translation mocks the Japanese are wrong. I had to stop and think about it.
Lost In Translation is a movie about two Americans that meet in a hotel in Tokyo. They are both suffering from jet lag and a sense of displacement or alienation from the Japanese culture around them. Anyone who’s been to Japan on business will find the beginning of the movie funny. At one point I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. However, I don’t believe the movie was making fun of the Japanese. I think it was highlighting how foreign it all looks to an American. The movie was making fun of that sense of disorientation you can feel when you’re encountering a new culture for the first time and you’ve only had two hours of sleep. Bill Murray, who’s not even sure what he’s doing in Japan (other than they are paying him lots of money) and he’s having problems at home, just looks lost and that’s a very familiar to feeling to many business visitors to Japan.

Most of us however, do end up sleeping at some point, and begin enjoying the cultural differences. Business trips to Asia are always my favorite.

While I really enjoyed the beginning of the movie, I thought the movie was very slow. However, I’d have to agree with Salil Tripathi, I don’t think the movie was mocking the Japanese culture.

Two issues I did have with the movie:
– The gyms at international business hotels in Asia are NEVER empty in the early morning hours. There is always a large number of jet lagged business travelers waiting for treadmills as soon as the gym opens in the morning.
– While I’ve sometimes had problems being understood or understanding what someone was saying in Japan, I’ve never had them brush me off or continue to repeat the same thing over and over again. In my experience they have always been very helpful and taken great pains to make sure I understood and was understood.