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2014 July | Roads-2-Roam.com


Monthly Archives: July 2014

Not feeling the Luv : Southwest kicks off a tweeter

Your OFF !

You’re OFF !

We were a bit surprised to hear about a passenger getting kicked off a Southwest flight for Tweeting about an altercation he had with a Flight Attendant over boarding groups. The FA was apparently frightened for her safety.

Not what we’d expect from Southwest. We’ve never had a problem with them.

How come she even knew about the tweet? There must be more to this story.




Your Judge keeps Lyfting me higher : Ruling goes against the Uber and Lyft operating in NYC

Lyft me up, Lyft me down.

Lyft me up, Lyft me down.

So the legal situation of Lyft, Uber et al, evolves.  The New York Post reports that Lyft has agreed to submit to TLC regulations.

The ride-sharing app Lyft caved to demands by the city to submit to TLC regulations after a Manhattan judge threatened to bar the company from launching in the outer boroughs.

“Lyft agreed they would not launch until they have come into compliance with the law, the TLC requirements,” said Justice Kathryn Freed Friday.

Specifically the start-up, which already operates in 65 other cities including San Francisco and Chicago, has to register with base stations and submit its mobile phone app technology to the TLC for approval.

“If these things aren’t done I’m prepared to issue a temporary restraining order” preventing Lyft vehicles from driving in the city until the conclusion of a lawsuit brought by the attorney general challenging the business model, Freed said.

This is pretty big news in that these start up companies have claimed such regulation don’t apply so this could be setting legal precedence. If they do have to comply with such Taxi regulations as laid down by local authorities, their new internet business model gets broken pretty quick.  Just look at Aereo to see what happens when it goes in front of a judge:Virtual reality meets real reality. Continue reading..

Bits in Pieces : AirBnB’s logo causes sniggers

Airbnb-logoDahlings, the characters in Roam’s Palatine hill laughed heartily when we heard the story of airbnb’s re-designed logo(For those who do not know, Airbnb is a website where you can book individual rooms in someones house or even on a couch.)

So why did we titter so ?  If you read some of the original internet guff, then you would think it was a brilliant design.

The company embarked on a year-long brand study, during which it hired an outside agency, London-based DesignStudio, for assistance. The teams collected mounds of user research, traveling to more than a dozen countries to interview hosts and guests on what they loved most about Airbnb, then setting up camp at a back office in Airbnb’s headquarters to work in private. The team also performed detailed surveys of competing brands, concluding that too many technology companies, from Facebook to IBM, play it safe with a “cold, corporate blue color,” according to DesignStudio cofounder Paul Stafford.

Eventually, Chesky says, Airbnb’s design studio started to look like Russell Crowe’s workshop in A Beautiful Mind. They were overwhelmed with an absurd number of mood boards and brand identity studies, which included “the Red Cross, the Olympic rings, and probably the most important symbol of all, Batman’s,” Chesky says, only half-joking. But eventually, in what he calls a “drop the mic” moment, Chesky says he was able to distill everything the team had learned down to one core principle: “Airbnb is about belonging anywhere. The brand shouldn’t say we’re about community, or our international [reach], or renting homes–it’s about belonging.”

No so.

It turns out the new logo looks has a different visual meaning to many people. In particular a resemblance to lower abdominal regions of the different sexes.  We laughed harder when we found a tumblr site dedicated to alternative interpretations of the said logo. Continue reading..

A name in a crowd. Faces in the tragedy.

Cor pan's post to facebook about Malaysian airline.

Cor pan’s post to facebook about Malaysian airline.

17th July 2014: By now you all should know about the awful story of Malaysian Airline MH17 being shot down over the Ukraine. It is day=0 and there is much speculative information about the events.

We are sure more details will emerge in the next few days. We worry about the repercussions.

The people impacted appear to come from many nationalities and if count stands true, 80 of the fatalities will be children.

However, there is one person on MH17 we warmed to when we read the various articles. We refer to Cor Pan from Netherlands, who posted on Facebook a picture of the Malaysian Airline plane before he boarded with a translated comment of “Should it disappear, this is what it looks like.”

After we read this, we at Roads-2-Roam had a wry smile: This is a person with a dry sense of humor similar to ours.

The second picture we include shows Cor Pan with his girlfriend, Neeltje who were flying to their holiday.

Requiescat in pace.

People of MH17: Cor Pan and Neeltje Tol.

Two of the real people of MH17: Cor Pan and Neeltje Tol.

Thunderbolt and Lightning, Very Very frightening me : Lightening strikes and outdoor travel

1975 picture of Michael McQuilken (right) and his little brother Sean moments before lightening struck them

1975 picture of Michael McQuilken (right) and his little brother Sean moments before lightening struck them

Sunday 13th July:  Roads-2-Roam read about a second death in only 2 days from lightning strike in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Both had occurred on Trail Ridge road near or at Ute Crossing Trail. The one on Saturday impacted 13 people whereas 7 people were injured on Friday.

Per the usatoday article:

Park officials are reminding visitors of the dangers associated with being above tree line — or more than 10,000 feet. That area is very exposed and there are few places to take cover.

Park rangers say visitors should head to lower ground by 12 p.m. to avoid being caught in a dangerous storm.

Prior to this, the last fatality due to lightening in Rocky Mountain National Park happened in 2000 so this seems like a statistical anomaly.

Reading around for information on this we found a stupid CBS article claiming this happened during “heavy monsoon rains”. Oh for crying out loud: The US does not have monsoons. What the US does have is instead is morons,usually lazy reporters.

Now back to the topic of lightning. Years ago, Augustus remembers one of an Irish friend tell us about a time hiking in the Rockies when a storm hit. He said “It started as fun but the scary thing was there was nowhere to shelter. There was blinding white flashes and I ducked as low as possible and was glad to make it out alive”. Continue reading..

A sleep at the wheel : The day my Car was attacked by a matress

Augustus' chariot with a uninvited guest attached to the bottom

Augustus’ chariot with a uninvited guest attached to the bottom

I found this picture on his phone and it brought back memories. Unpleasant memories at the time but funny now.

It was a cold winter’s night around 8:30 pm on Monday where I was driving down I10 to Houston from Austin. The section of freeway was unlit and the road was quiet.  I had just changed into the right lane and saw the driver in front swerve around something. Since there was a car passing on my left, I had nowhere to safely go apart from straight on.

I braced from a crash and drove over whatever it was on the road. There was an ugly scraping noise and whatever the object was, it was now under the carriage. I was driving down the road with sparks coming out of the sides.

I pulled over and got out to take a look. By the passing car headlights,it was something metallic. More importantly, it was stuck.

Luckily there was a turn off nearby and I slowly drove off the freeway to a gas station nearby which was well lit.

At the garage, I could better see what it was: the remains of a mattress that was now just springs and wires.

I tried pulling it, it moved somewhat but was trapped in multiple places under the car.

Now what to do? The toolkit in the car had including pliers but it would not cut the wire.

The garage attendant didn’t have phone number for a local tow truck. The idea being to hitch it up and pull it away was out.

The phone was dead so could not look up anything on the internet.

So there I was. Cold, frustrated and Stranded. This was like one of these management challenges that they give to teams and with no other options it was try, try and try again.

By chance I managed to loosen it to the front enough by standing on it with left foot and slowly reversing the car with the other. This allowed me to jack up each front tire and remove it to further pull it away. 50 minutes later I was back on the road again. Very pleased with myself but equally pissed off with idiot who had lost their mattress and had not secured their load. A common problem in Texas.

Still there is part if this story that still makes me chuckle whenever I think about it. The name of the town that I had just passed…..SEALY.

For those that may not know, Sealy is a famous manufacture of mattresses.

A Cheesy story : After flight is delayed, Frontier pilot orders pizzas for all passengers

Every now and then, we get to hear about a good news story related to travel. This one on kdvr, tells one such story about a Frontier pilot “Berhard Brandner” ordering 50 Pizza’s on his own buck for the passengers on his plane. The plane was stuck at Cheyenne airport due to bad weather where it had to land to refuel after it’s intended destination of Denver had storms.  The 3 hour flight had already taken 7 hours.

From the words of a passenger Logan Marie Torres

“The captain took his own initiative,” Torres said.   He said “Ladies and gentleman, Frontier Airlines is known for being one of the cheapest airlines in the U.S., but your captain is not cheap,” Torres recounted. “I just ordered pizza for the entire plane.” 

We heard him being interviewed on the radio and he didn’t end up with slice,

If Captain Brander ever comes our way, we’d like to arrange from him an Ovation which in old Roman times was a form of Triumph granted when war had not been declared. He can wear a wreath of myrtle.

Alternatively, if he’s not into that sort of thing, we are Roads-2-Roam would just like to buy him a beer.

Guilty as not charged : TSA may require phones to be powered on as a part of screening.

Flat battery can mean your phone doesn't fly

This sign can mean your phone doesn’t fly

Hitting the news channels was the story that the TSA announced that on certain US bound flight, customers will have to power on their mobile devices to prove they are not a security risk. From the Washington post:

The Transportation Security Administration announced Sunday that on certain overseas flights to the United States, it will not permit “powerless devices” — cellphones and computers that cannot be turned on. Airport security officers may ask passengers to power-on devices during security screening, which could mean slower security lines for travelers. Passengers could also be taken out of line for questioning, TSA said.

TSA already sometimes asks travelers to turn on laptops, presumably to determine if they are real rather than filled with explosives.

It is unclear how TSA plans to deal with passengers without chargers whose devices are dead. The announcement doesn’t say what will happen to a phone that can’t be turned on, or how the owner will retrieve it if confiscated by airport security.

I lived in Germany until 1998, where the airport security would weigh laptops to see if they were within specification. If you added a daughter card it could take it out of specification of if your model of laptop wasn’t in their file, then they’d take it for further inspection. I had a bit of schadenfreude at the airport when I saw a particularly loathsome manager from my company get pulled aside because he had added a fax card to his laptop. He missed his flight and was furious about it.

It is good to see the German security jettisoned the weighing requirement as their list got obsolete very quickly but for a long while, they required you boot it a laptop to get to the window screen. After living through the German screening experience, the phone power up is  not that big a deal in the scheme of things as most phones boot quickly or you just leave it on. However, one my current iphone, the on/off button no longer works after about 1 year of ownership. A simple internet search shows this is a common problem – thanks Apple – and I have to do a funky works around to have it lock the screen to save power. I’ll need to watch this more closely now.

What we found amusing here is the unsurprising reaction from our favorite scaremongering rag, Britain’s Daily Mail. While other news outlets calmly report it,  witness their headline “Airports face chaos after America bans UNCHARGED mobiles or laptops from US-bound flights over bomb fears – with iPhones and Galaxies top of the hit list”. From the Mail’s version of the same story:

The US has declared that it will not allow mobile phones – especially iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy – onto US bound planes from some airports in Europe, the Middle East and Africa if the devices are not charged.

The new measure, which is bound to cause chaotic scenes at airports around the globe, is part of the US Transportation Security Administration’s effort to boost surveillance amid concerns that terrorists are plotting to blow up an airliner.

As part of the increased scrutiny at certain airports, security agents may ask travelers to turn on their electronic devices at checkpoints and if they do not have power, the devices will not be allowed on planes, the TSA said.

No doubt the new measures have the potential to create frantic searches for chargers at airports and one US source familiar with the matter said laptop computers are also among the devices security screeners may also require passengers to turn on.

Chaos ? Frantic searches ? Oh the humanity. Somehow I don’t think so but this is the Daily Mail at it’s sensationalist best.




Baggage excesses : Problems with baggage system at Heathrow’s Terminal 5

BA's latest no fly policy.

BA’s latest no fly policy.

From the UK Telegraph 7/4/14 : Heathrow Terminal 5 baggage: no bags for a week

Passengers whose luggage was delayed by IT glitches at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 are still waiting to be reunited with their bags a week later

Problems with the baggage system at Terminal 5 between Thursday and Sunday meant that thousands of British Airways passengers’ bags were not loaded onto their flights.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said the computer glitch meant some bags had to be processed manually, which “led to some bags not making flights in time”. BA – the only airline to operate from the terminal –said it has been working “around the clock” to reunite customers with their bags, and that all bags had been dispatched by the end of Tuesday.

However, it added that the nature of international travel, complex security issues and customs regulations meant that it may still take several days for passengers to receive their belongings. Travellers have been expressing frustration and anger at the way BA has handled the situation

While this is a serious problem it is in fact, history repeating itself. When Terminal 5 opened in march 2008, the very same thing happened on the opening day. Over 28,000 pieces of luggage were pilled up. It took over three weeks for some passengers to finally get their luggage back with many losing their bags.

Roads-2-Roam commiserates with the affected Roam’ns.

So what are your rights for lost luggage? The Telegraph article expands on this:

airlines are obliged to cover costs of “essential items” such as underwear and toiletries, for which compensation should come in the form of an upfront cash payment, a fixed daily budget or remittance once your claim and receipts have been submitted, normally to a value of £100-£200.

The law that governs this is Montreal Convention. This was made effective in 2003 and compensates you up to ‘1311 SDR’ per checked item. What is SDR? Good question: It refers to Special Drawing Rights and is a mix of currency values establish by the IMF. Still confused – so are we. We found this unhelpful SDR converter on the IMF site. In a nuthshell, 1 SDR is approx $1.55.

This is a significant improvement to the prior Warsaw convention where compensation was based on Weight of bags only. In addition, the airlines have 21 days to find it before compensation begins so you may be without your clothes for a long while.

However, Good luck in getting maximum payment though. Trajan found this out first hand where Air France lost his luggage on a connection to Vienna via Paris-CDG and we never got re-united with it. In fact we spent more money on international telephone calls than what we got back. He also remembers not being able to connect with anyone in Air France customer service as it was public holiday weekend. [As a side note we read about baggage handlers in CDG being jailed for theft. At the time we wondered if they were ones who stole our stuff. Read the article and see how many arrests there have been over the years.].

While British Airways is the airline and the one being tarred by the fiasco, T5 is run by British Airports Authority. It seems that BA doesn’t have much luck when it comes to lending its name to things mechanical. Back in late 1990’s, it sponsored the London Eye (the viewing wheel in London, near the House of Parliament) where it was scheduled to open for millennium. Guess what happened: It missed the 1999-2000 change over due to a clutch problem.

Still we have a problem with BA in other ways and Roads-2-Roam is boycotting them until they change it. We have a major problem with their policy for booking a seat outside the 24 hour check in window where you have to pay between 10 GBP ($16) and 60 GBP ($96) just to get a seat. This is ridiculous especially if you are traveling as a family and want to sit together. Perhaps BA is wishing to live up to their alternative name : BA = Bloody awful.