Business Travel in 2008 vs Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

Since the turn of the year I’ve been getting around a bit. I’ve been to Austin TX, Cambridge UK, Chicago IL (twice), Indianapolis IN, and Philadelphia PA. In going to/from Chicago both trips were complicated by weather related flight delays and cancellations. It was sleeting in Indianapolis last week, but I was only delayed a few hours.

One of the last HD-DVDs that I bought was Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Watching the early part of the movie it’s funny to examine what he thought space travel would be like. The lead character is presumably traveling first class. The service sure seems good, and there aren’t many other travelers.


I must admit that I generally enjoy Continental Airlines service. When I lived in Toronto I was usually flying Air Canada at point in their history when they were doing well. They also took good care of frequent fliers. These are the exceptions in my experience.

There are other airlines out there that just don’t seem to be too concerned about their customers. They make you buy the little snacks on the aircraft. Their frequent flier programs have been around so long and remained relatively unchanged so that they are so full of upper tier fliers that it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

Let’s face it, business travel really stinks. If I can avoid a trip by whatever means I’ll do it.

On my most recent flight from Indianapolis to Houston one man, sitting in the same row as I, but on the opposite side of the aircraft kept talking on his cell phone well after the aircraft had pulled away from the gate. He continued on his call throughout 20 minutes of de-icing. Everyone around him glared at him all through the security demonstration.

Why did the crew not say anything to this man? Was he an air marshal? From his conversation it sounded like he was in sales. The crew should have dealt with this person. I hope that cell phone use is never allowed in-flight. The world is connected enough. A little quite time, especially in a crowded aircraft is perfectly sensible.

Remotely accessing distant hardware has cut my travel somewhat in recent years. We use www.gotomeeting.com to perform remote server admin tasks. This has probably cut my business travel by about 15%, but more importantly it’s improved our level of customer service. At Pixel Power we are now more likely to act on customers behalf instead of asking them 20 questions in trying to understand what they are reporting and guess at the root cause. That’s a good thing. Get eyes on the subject and get to the root of it quickly.

As to 2001, I’d probably put up with zero-G toilets and dinner through a straw to get the peace, quiet and service experienced by Mr Heywood. I wonder if Marriott would have a facility on the space station? Or just Hilton and Howard Johnson?