Wednesday, June 13, 2007


In Transit

At the risk of sounding like Glenn Reynolds when he's in travel blog mode, I'm in transit, making my way back from an Intelligence Community Conference in the DC area. I hope to make some general comments about that experience later this week.

I was all set to be angry and frustrated, first, because I'm flying United, and second, I'm flew in and now fly out via Dulles.

I don't know how the beltway types put up with this Airport. Maybe it's me, but everything about this place, its layout, accoutrement, features, seem like some Disney ImaginariumTM view of the Future from 20 years ago.

What is it with these people mover shuttles? Does anyone seriously think this is more efficient or economical? For those who aren't familiar with these beasts, the people mover is a huge cabin, like two end-to-end subway cars, mounted on a huge truck, with a couple of wings on top like some kind of cheesy "Flight to the Future." They move passengers from one terminal to another, not in a shuttle type circuit, but point to point in their assigned route.

The driver escorts passengers into the cabin, sets a 5 minute timer letting passengers know when the Shuttle will depart, and at the assigned time, locks everybody in and then enters the "cockpit" to initiate the transport sequence. (That's another of the Futurama effects, there's a message that tells you to remain seated until the shuttle completes its docking procedure.)

And why do I think employee ownership has made the people of United seem more like sullen Soviets? Aside from the fact that one encounters few if any speakers of English as a first language, customer service borders on the catatonic. Apparently freed from the oppression of the Owners, United staff encountered the burden of having to provide customer service to a new set of “masters,” as in the traveling public.

I must some like some kind of grump. Maybe it was all the delays, the minor and unexplainable inconveniences, all manner of construction. Someone please tell me that they're building a train, or moving walkways, or even regular walkways under the terminals.

Normally I would be stressed, agitated, annoyed. Rather, I’m comfortable and relaxed.

I had been trying for a standby on an earlier flight that was cancelled. I had a confirmed reservation on the later flight, which meant I didn’t have to stand in line for an hour in customer service with my fellow passengers.

I found a delightful brew pub in the airport that serves its own Hefe-Weizen, as well as some tasty garlic fries that well accompanies a pulled pork and coleslaw sandwich.

With four hours to kill, I enjoyed a nice dinner, and buoyed by that and my favorite beverage of choice, relax with wireless and an overfull stomach.

I said some unpleasant things about Dulles, didn't I? I'm sorry, I take them all back.

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