OK, so this is my first business trip in a while: headed to Las Vegas for Light Fair International, a big trade show for the lighting industry.
Readers of some of my other travel posts will recall the confusion I had regarding United Airlines/Air Canada and travel to Toronto; it seemed like I always picked the wrong carrier and therefore the wrong terminal to check in. So as I try to check in with US Airways, I realize I've done it again. The flight is "operated by" United (technically, by SkyWest pretending to be United). That, and the constant change in what airlines are at what terminals as they renovate San Jose airport, means another trip to the curb to take the shuttle over to Terminal A.
OK, all ready to check in. I've decided I'm carrying my stuff on, and have ditched anything in a tube/bottle greater than three ounces. Since I'm now at United's "Unwashed Masses" frequent flyer level, I get to check in at the kiosk with everyone else. As part of my check-in process I'm offered the following upgrades (all for a nominal fee):
- More legroom
- Business class/first class (on a regional jet? Are you kidding me?)
- More miles
Then I wait while my tickets print out. One. At. A. Time. Very. Very. Sloooowly. Good thing I got here early!
And while we're talking upgrades, when I check in at Harrah's, I'm offered:
- A nicer room
- The all-day, multi-hotel, all-you-can-eat buffet pass. Isn't this why we're so obese in this country?
She: OK sir, you're all set with your room. With the Senior Discount, the rate is…
Me: (thinking) can you keep it down a bit?
She: Will anyone be joining you in your room tonight?
Me: (jaw dropping momentarily; then pointing to the young ladies being trained for front desk work) Ah, ah, ah! Don't say it! I know what you're thinking!
On a separate note, did I mention that the carpet color scheme is exactly that same as in South Lake Tahoe? And BTW, did I miss the "welcome smokers" sign at the casino entrance?
Speak So Your Customer Can Understand
He: So how does your device communicate? Is it RF?
Me: Yes, we use ZigBee protocol, you know, 802.15.4…
He: Whoa, whoa, whoa! I don't understand all this wireless stuff!
Me: OK, no problem. It's like the Wi-Fi in your house, but lower-power.
He: OK, I get that. So what's the distance you can cover between two devices?
Me: About a hundred meters, point to point, but with mesh…
He: Meters? Yeah, everyone keeps talking about meters at this show. So if a meter is about a yard…
Me: (Thinking: how did you get out of Junior High?) That's right, so a hundred meters is like a hundred yards… you know, like the length of a football field.
He: Ah, OK, now I get it!
Notes from the Strip
- You know the people handing out cards for (ahem) escort services? Well now they have a uniform: some kind of day-glo T-shirt with a toll-free number listed. It's interesting that they don't actually talk to you, they just make a sound like the shuffling of a deck of cards and then thrust one in your direction. It was also interesting to note that they stood exactly on the line where the sidewalk ended and the hotel property began.
- Dear Jimmy Buffett: I appreciate your attempt to create the mood, but making Margaritaville more like Florida by spraying the fake coconut scent from Banana Boat sunscreen isn't really making it.
- Did you know the Las Vegas police have bicycles? With lights? Neither did the guy who ran the stoplight.
- So Cher is performing live, as well as via the "legends" stage show. Is it easy to tell the difference between live and made-up? Which would I prefer at this point?
This Just In from the Middle Seat
- Note to airport designers: making your terminal like a giant + sign might be great for airplanes, but it's not so good for passengers. If you have to go from one spoke to another, it's a long run.
- All that time riding shopping carts through store parking lots came in handy during my six-minute run to make my PHX-SJC connection.
- Note to guy in 4C: peppermint doesn't work to cover up the smell of too many Bud Lights; unless that's peppermint schnapps you're hitting in the bathroom. Thanks for bringing back memories of rock concerts with high school friends!
- To the passengers in 5A/B/C: your life stories do not get more interesting when told at higher decibel levels.
Mineta San Jose International Airport, aka SJC: congratulations on growing up! You're hemmed in by two freeways (which made it interesting when some of the jumbo jets took off—they had to take off with less than full fuel, then land in Oakland and refuel before heading to Asia) so expansion is not really possible. But the new International terminal looks pretty cool, the parking garage art is nice, and thank goodness you've fixed the security setup. Yes, I get nostalgic for the days of showing up 20 minutes before the flight, parking in the lot across from the terminal, and running on the flight to LA… but I'll get over it. Until then, I'll appreciate being able to walk down the stairs onto the actual tarmac while I can. And keep the Espressamente Illy cafe open!