Travel blues

I know that in a perfect world, all the presence and meeting tools would obviate the need for business travel.

However, if you live in the real world, and you are a product manager, you realize that some significant fraction of your time needs to be spent on the road.  Be it visiting customers, technology partners, or pressing the flesh at events (roadshows, tradeshows, conferences, etc).

In the new world, where the airlines are consolidating, reducing the number of seats, and working to maximize their revenue generation potential, any flexibility and perq’s you used to enjoy as a frequent flyer are about as rare as hen’s teeth.  As a Gold (or 1K) level member on United, I used to enjoy early boarding, priority baggage (not only free but with the magical flag in the tag to get your bags spun first), about 90% of the time an empty seat next to you (really nice in coach on an international flight), and a pretty liberal upgrade policy (like auto 1st class upgrades domestically).

Now, with every flight sold out, you get none of the upgrades or open seats.  The baggage still gets the priority tag, but the ground crew pretty much ignores the priority.  Upgrades are pretty much reserved for the 1K members, or global services.  And the real clincher, there are so few open seats, that you can’t book mile sponsored tickets to any desirable destination, or on convenient dates.

Add to that a plethora of canceled flights (I suspect to keep the open seats on other flights non-existent), oversolf flights, airplanes that aren’t cleaned (if you find used tissues, orange peels and banana peels in seat back pockets, well, ick).

There really aren’t any good aspects to business travel.

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