Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Joy of Luggage

One thing that I need to add to my life long learning goals is grasping the reality of carryon luggage.

I already know that flying non-stop is always best. Jumping across three cities to save a few bucks on PriceLine is simply not worth the savings in time, especially when factoring layovers and delays. For instance a Southwest direct flight from Nashville to San Jose is 6:35 of travel time; via United through Chicago, to Denver to San Jose starts out at 2:15 CST arriving at 9:39 PST adding in an additional three hours and risk of delays along the way.

I went to Santa Clara for a pretty good conference on Search Engine Marketing. Learned a lot and met some great people along the way. After logistically plane jumping via United to avoid the bad weather (and Chicago's O'Hara Airport), my luggage didn't make the trip.

Dressing for comfort on a plane with a pullover fleece, white t-shirt, socks, black jeans and ratty tennis shoes doesn't generally make a favorable impression for a typical conference, especially when the clothes have to suffice for the next day. However, for a tech conference, I can safely say I was dressed better than 70% of the attendees. Not exactly comforting thoughts as I started to get a little irritated with United's process for resolving delayed / missing luggage handling.

My luggage was due to arrive at San Jose’s airport the following morning at 10:40 am. A handler then arrives at 11:00 and 12 noon to pick up the luggage and disperse them throughout to the owners. I was willing to pick up the luggage when it arrived off the flight. After 3 pm, I called the 800 number and got a call center in India. Of course, I was expecting the local airport office, but after my investigative questioning of the operator’s weather, local time and if there was a local Wal-Mart, the call center in India had no way of knowing where my bag was. I firmly, but politely requested that the bag better arrive at the Hyatt Regency soon, with the specific instruction to call my cell. Of course that didn’t happen – the luggage showed up at 5:30 pm, seven hours after arriving off the plane. I wonder what would happen if I didn’t call to escalate the ticket.

I was planning to write an article on what type of tech gear to travel with over at www. Certainly power chargers, cords, battery backups, flash drives, digital camera, iPods, etc. are necessities. I have to add to the list a complete change of clothing. I recently reviewed a Microsoft Rolling Laptop Case that has a compartment for clothing, but instead is filled with other tech items.

Utilizing UPS or FedEx to ship home all of the schwag, booklets, and reading material to reduce carrying the weight and bulk of the items in a suitcase would be a good thing as a handler can easily flag the bag for being overweight.

I simply must figure out how to pack for a 4-night/5 day stay in a carryon bag. I’m convinced it can’t be done if the goal is dress business casual.

When it doubt, poll the audience. There’s great wisdom in crowds.

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