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Most banking/debit cards have their transactions show up almost instantaneously online, but credit cards are different. When I make a purchase, the most instant feedback I get is the available balance showing a decrease but I can never see the actual transaction. This is disconcerting because I would like to be able to see where my money goes in an instant instead of waiting 3-4 days for the credit card processing to occur.

I can kind of understand why it takes place, and the reason is for the good of the customer. The credit card company during transaction can check for fraud and stop things in their tracks if it is detected. While this is great, it keeps me from doing my own balancing and checking.

Being a user of a credit card instead of a debit card, it would be nice if they worked the same. Well, maybe some day.

Apparently, yesterday’s post on what Continental can do to be competitive was a hit. A large increase in traffic registered in my statistics and caused the site a bit of a hiccup late last night.

Driving to work this morning I continued to think of things Continental can do to keep their business strong and make it even stronger. I have created another list below that outlines my thoughts on a variety of different things Continental can improve on.

President's Club - IAH C Terminal South

  • President’s Club experience
    • Overall, the President’s Club is a great way to get away from the terminal and relax in a much calmer atmosphere.
    • The internet access in most of the clubs is awful. I am not sure if it is due to leechers sitting outside of the club’s doors or if the network connections are just that bad, whatever it is, it needs to be fixed. Continental has a huge advantage over other clubs by simply providing internet access for free, now do us one better and make it really usable.
    • Increased space/seating should be a priority. After visiting the President’s Club in the E terminal at IAH, I was taken aback by the fact that people had turned four seats by the windows into their personal offices, leaving very little seating for those of us who just wanted to get off of our feet. If Continental can increase club size, or add more clubs to airports where they know it gets crowded, things would be much more enjoyable.
  • Legroom in coach
    • The legroom in coach class on Continental’s flights is laughable. Sitting in it for four hours is almost unbearable, let alone a transatlantic or worse, transpacific flight. Continental needs to seriously consider expanding the fleet to increase frequency to make up for a slight seat reduction to add the legroom. I can guarantee that customers in the back will be much happier.
  • Fleet aircraft
    • Continental still has a large number of 737-300s and 737-500s in their fleet. These planes are older, even less comfortable, and used on routes that make them teeter on the brink of unbearable. Flying from Houston to Newark on one of these is right up there on the list of least favorite things to do, right below going to the dentist. Update the fleet and/or pull these planes off of longer haul routes and have them relegated to short hops.
    • The ERJ situation has to be fixed. Newark is clogged to the brink of collapse with these little birds taking up gates, landing and takeoff slots, and overall airspace. Reduce the number of these planes and customers will see a vast improvement in on-time performance and comfort at both Newark and Houston Intercontinental. This goes for the CRJ-200 as well, which are even less comfortable than the ERJs.
  • Hub locations
    • Continental’s hub situation is slowly getting better. With the recent announcement that the operation at Cleveland would receive $50 million in renovations there is a glimmer of hope.
    • The west coast needs some sort of “base of operations” for Continental. It used to be LAX but that has been all but abandoned. An increased presence on the west coast will definitely boost business customers traveling back and forth between New York and LAX or SFO.
    • A hub on the west coast could also improve flight options for those of us looking to get to China, Japan, and Southeast Asia faster and for less money. It is in Continental’s best interest to look into what it would take to get a full scale hub built on the west coast.

That’s all that really struck me this morning driving into work. I am sure I left something off and will more than likely end up editing this article to fix it. If you would like to contact me with your suggestions/ideas for Continental, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at ssegraves@gmail.com.

*This article will be republished at http://stephan.wordpress.com and http://stephan.newsvine.com

When my “base of operations” switched from Dallas to Houston in February of this year my choice of airlines changed too. I was a frequent flier on American Airlines and had the status to prove it. I enjoyed DFW and did not mind flying in and out of there. With the move to Houston, my airline of choice has become Continental Airlines and the airport I frequent is now IAH.

With the change my enjoyment of flying has increased by a great amount. Continental has only let me down one time but they have more than made up for it with great service on every other trip with them. My recent flight in the BusinessFirst cabin from Newark to Seattle was one of the most enjoyable flights I have ever taken. The Continental flight attendants are some of the best in the business and the fact that the airline still provides meals at mealtimes is a testament to their devotion to their customers.

Recently, Continental, in conjunction with a message board community of frequent fliers, announced that they would be holding a very large event at Intercontinental Airport. The event will take place September 28-29 and will include tours of Continental facilities and a Q&A session with various Continental “C” level management, including Larry Kellner himself. As you can imagine, I am attending this event with Jess and want to have a nice list of suggestions and questions for the Continental management.

So, how can Continental improve and compete more heavily for my business?

  • Better transcontinental services and comfort.
    • Continental only has one east coast hub, Newark, and it serves Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. The comfort on these planes for both coach and first class passengers is minimal. If you are on a red-eye, do not assume you will get a good amount of sleep in coach, the seat pitch is only 31″ and pales in comparison to JetBlue’s 34″ pitch. The three inches may not sound like a lot, but it definitely helps when you are wanting to relax a little.
    • The above comment goes hand-in-hand with upgrading of the transcontinental fleet, which should be segregated into an almost three class configuration. Have a first class, business class, and economy section (with more legroom) and increase the capacity on the routes. It is near impossible to obtain a first class seat on a transcontinental route due to the fact that the largest plane flying these routes only has 24 seats in the front.
  • Improve the elite check-in and security lines, especially in Houston and Newark.
    • The Newark elite security lines in terminal C are a joke, they merge right before you get to a metal detector and just become a bottleneck as the airport gets busier throughout the day.
    • Give elites a true “elite” line and make their trip a little more hassle free, it makes all the difference, especially when being forced to fly through Newark.
  • President’s Club food choices are going the way of the Dodo
    • I understand that the President’s Club is a way to escape the hustle and bustle of the terminal and I appreciate it, but the food options are somewhat depressing. The cheese and crackers combination just gets old after a while. Maybe add a few other small options such as bite-sized sandwiches or some sort of meat to accompany my cheese and crackers.
  • Food options in coach teeter on the inedible side of the spectrum
    • The cheesesteak pizza and the faux-hamburger have to go. I know that Continental is just trying to put some food into the customer’s belly, but these options are not really options at all.
    • Make a salad with chicken on top an option. The vinaigrette dressing that is provided on the flights is great, now compliment it with a little chicken or smoked salmon and I’ll be happy.

Those are the main quirks that stick out in my head as I walk through an airport terminal. I will still be a loyal Continental flier even the above never get implemented, it would just be nice to see it happen. The one other thing that Continental could do to keep its already loyal elite fliers is block off middle seats for them. Instead of filling the plane from the front to back, do the reverse, I guarantee there will be a great majority of businessmen who will thank you.

The morning drive to work, though filled with traffic, is a respite from what lies ahead in the day. My radio is usually turned to talk radio and I am able to reflect on the discussion of the day.

This morning, all of that came to a screeching halt. My co-worker, who was told to be at the office early, arrived at 7:30am, just like she was told. My boss was looking for a database on the server that had not been added yet. My co-worker proceeded to provide my boss with my personal cell phone number and he proceeded to call me.

I answered, not knowing who it was, and there went my morning. The question was simple, “Were’ you able to get the database put on the server yesterday?”, my answer was equally simple, “No”. Silence ensued so I continued, telling my boss that I was on the freeway. He inquired as to how long it would take me to get there, “depending on traffic, 20 minutes”.

Now my solitude in the morning was instead interrupted by thoughts of what I would have to do the rest of the day. Then, to ice the cake, the person who we were supposed to be rushing to facilitate showed up at his leisure an hour later. So we rushed, I got my morning shockingly interrupted, and the person it was done for could have cared less.

The lesson from this? Don’t answer your phone in the morning.

When I receive a resume for a potential employee the first thing I do is review it for spelling and grammatical errors. I printed out a resume last week that had me rolling. It was for a position that we have here but this person wants to do it in China. He’s from China and my first thought was that he basically wanted a free ticket home (we’ve had that happen before).

As I read the resume I realized this guy may not actually grasp the English language, even though he’s apparently lived here for 20+ years. There were grammatical errors galore, with one sentence (that was a statement) ending in a question mark. What am I supposed to do? How do these resumes get through the HR people in the first place? It seems as though it is an exercise in futility. I can already imagine how my interview is going to go with this candidate and though I will go through with it, I’m dreading it.

Just last week, actually right before I received this resume, I interviewed a perfect candidate for the position, but have not heard anything more. The whole situation is quite disconcerting.

On average, my inbox at work receives around 30-60 new messages each day. The e-mails are pretty well spread out as far as timing is concerned, however, the content lately has just left me dumbfounded.

This morning an e-mail was sent out concerning some questions and problems a client is having. The client in question expressed an interest in a certain technology but is worried about performance, so the e-mail attempted to get this questions answered. Instead, the following was sent (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

Fred,

Thanks for bringing us into the loop. We have been discouraging people from heavy usage of that particular technology because of the activity it can generate which can lead into performance issue.

We can certainly have a meeting and discuss options in greater detail. Please send as much detail as you can prior to that. I am copying Todd, Todd has the most insight into this issue because we have had these type of requests before. Todd is currently down with a flu for the last couple of days. Its very important that we have Todd in the meeting. Let’s target a meeting Thursday afternoon or Friday, Todd should hopefully be back by then.

I also copying Joe Blow because he tends to interface with this client a lot and he may have some insight into suggesting alternatives.

Teddy

Let me just say that the e-mail that preceded the above was extremely detailed and explained the issues very well, yet we have to have a meeting to figure out the best route to go. Why do we need a meeting? Why can’t this person address the issues in an e-mail or better yet a quick phone call? Nope, we have to waste a few hours in a meeting that could possibly accomplish little to nothing.

These types of issues irk me because they are blatant time wasters. Meetings for everything, should be the slogan as that best describes how it feels.

After a fun trip across the U.S. I am back in Houston and in the “groove” of work and the day to day. My plan is to go through my pictures this week, do a little editing and post them to my flickr account as soon as possible. I will give just a quick recap of the trip but I plan to do a more detailed post about it when I post the pictures, because without them, a lot of the words do not do the experience justice.

I started off at the Houston airport on Friday, flew to Newark, met my cousin there, and we continued on to Philadelphia. After the hour drive, we dropped off my things at his home and walked to a local brewpub a few blocks away for a quick beer and some conversation.

The next day was spent with my cousin Jeff and his wife Marnie exploring the city of Philadelphia. From the Museum of Art to South Philadelphia and cheesesteaks, I saw a good portion of the city and enjoyed every minute.

On Sunday morning I awoke at 6am EST to catch my Amtrak train to Newark. Arriving at Newark fairly early, I stopped in to the President’s Club and had a glass of orange juice and watched the ground crew load my flight. I boarded the 777 and took my seat, 5A. This experience turned out to be a great one and the 5 and a half hour flight was fantastic. We had a great crew, amazing food, and wonderful views as we overflew the Canadian prairies.

Arriving in Seattle, I quickly made my way to the PC once again for a quick rest and the possibility of hopping on the earlier flight to Houston. There was no such luck and I took the original flight home, arriving in Houston at 9:30pm CST.

So, I flew 5,400 miles and crossed the U.S. twice in approximately 40 hours. What a trip!

This afternoon marks the beginning of my first mileage run. My routing at this point stands as IAHEWRSEAIAH.

I am hoping for a smooth run with minimal delays or sitting on the ground. Seeing my cousin in Philadelphia will be a nice way to start out the trip and will make it worth it.

I’ll try to do some writing while sitting in the airport if I can.