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badice.com ~ musings for the masses

About six months ago I switched all of my office to airport transfers in New York City from different car services (Carmel, Dial 7, etc.) to Uber, a service that lets passengers use their smartphone to schedule a ride in real time and have a drive at their location in a short amount of time.

At first, I was skeptical. In fact, I was hesitant to even use the service based on the negative press I had read. But, I gave it a try and had a mediocre first experience. The price was a little higher than what I was originally quoted in the app and the driver did not take the roads I had recommended, leading to being stuck in traffic for forty five minutes.

But I gave it another shot and after the second ride, I was hooked. Then Uber announced lower flat rates between Manhattan and Newark and I was really hooked. Sure, I have received less than helpful service from drivers or had cars that were not really that clean, but the majority of my trips have been great. The cars are usually very clean and new and the drivers are very courteous. Last week the driver called me after I requested a ride at Newark and asked if I minded walking upstairs rather than him driving all the way out of the airport to come back around. He was at the departure level and him calling me probably saved 20 minutes of waiting.

For the next 10 days Uber is offering double referral credits. So, for every person who signs up using my link, they receive a $20 ride credit and so do I. So, if you are looking for a new car service to try, give my referral link a click, sign-up for Uber, and take a ride. You may really like it, you may not, but it is worth a try.

We have hit a bit of a conundrum when it comes to planning a birthday trip for my wife and I. We are looking to travel in March and are torn between splitting our time in Seoul, South Korea and Osaka and Kyoto, Japan, spending the entire time in Korea, spending the entire time in Japan, or going somewhere completely different. We both like the idea of a beach but know that we would both go stir crazy after about three days. Now, if there’s a beach destination that also has some city exploration close by (within a 2-3 hour flight) then we may just be sold on that.

I have gone back and forth on the different options and just need to make a decision. Any ideas or suggestions? I am open to ideas and would love to know how other folks have explored Asia. If you are asking “why Osaka?”, after a bit of reading, it is definitely a food city and I love the possibility of exploring a town by simply eating my way through it.

If you have not listened to the podcast that Seth, Fozz, Rolando, and myself host, I would recommend listening to episode 42. We covered the Delta business class mistake fare, our travel and points strategy for 2014, manufactured credit card spending, and lastly, United’s “Flyer Friendly” ad campaign and following through with promises.

We enjoy recording the show and we hope that shows. We also hope that it provides useful information and some entertainment for our listeners. If you haven’t listened yet, give it a shot and let us know what you think. You can listen on PointsHoarder directly, subscribe to the podcast feed, or directly in iTunes.

I Flew on a Plane Without Going Through Security and No One Died (Washington Post)

Imagine if catching an 11 a.m. flight out of D.C. was a matter of hopping on the Metro at Petworth at 10:20, getting off at Reagan/National Airport at 10:43, and boarding the plane at 10:50.

That world is possible. I’ve lived it, and it is amazing. All we have to do is abolish the TSA. Entirely. Just let people walk off the street and onto a plane.

Would this increase hijacking? Probably. But there’s no reason to believe it would increase casualties from terrorist attacks overall. That’s because increasing airport security just leads terrorists to direct their assaults elsewhere.

It is an interesting idea and fun to think about, but it isn’t going to happen. We will see the expansion of PreCheck availability, but as a whole, airport security in its current form is staying where it is. The TSA has firmly embedded itself as part of the traveling way of life.

This short article from Business Insider seems to suggest we as travelers are getting exactly what we want. From the article:

The reason flying is the way it is is because that’s exactly what today’s fliers want.

Specifically, fliers want:

  • Safe, rapid travel between two cities
  • The lowest possible price

Oh, sure, people who fly won’t say that they’re getting what they want — because then they would reveal themselves to be cheap bastards who care mostly about price.

While it is true that travelers are getting low priced, relatively fast transportation between cities, the amenities that used to be offered on the same flights have been eroded to keep the price low.

I think what travelers want has changed a little in recent years and the above list needs to be amended to include power ports and internet connectivity. These two items have become even more important travelers over the last few years and most of the airlines are just now getting these things installed or playing catch up figuring out how to do so. I would also add “cleanliness” to the list. My last few flights on United have been on planes that were absolutely filthy and it was not a pleasant experience.

Are travelers willing to pay more for a better experience in flight? Based on Delta and United reconfiguring a number of aircraft to remove economy seats that have extra legroom and replace them with regular economy seats, my guess is no. There is a small segment of the traveling public that is willing to pay for more amenities but most just want a seat between two cities.

There is a lot of attention being paid to the real time retaliation of Elan Gale against a woman who was mad that their flight was delayed. There are now rumors that the woman is dying of cancer and was desperate to spend what she feels is her last Thanksgiving with her family.

I initially read the live tweeting and thought it was somewhat humorous. Then I reached the end. Elan Gale reached a line and then crossed it. Had he left it with the glass of wine and a funny note, that would have been enough. But when the woman responded and he countered, things took a turn. He went from being someone using humor to defuse a situation to someone just making things worse.

The best thing he could have done was just ignore the note from the woman and leave it at that.