Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bad 'Air Day

So I am in Binghamton, New York on Monday and have a flight scheduled to Boston on Tuesday morning at 7:30am, scheduled to arrive in Boston around 11:00am.

05:45am - Wake up grumbling
06:30am - Scramble out of the hotel and leave for the airport
06:50am - At the airport and checked in (Good!)
07:30am - Flight leaves on time (Great!)
(BTW, Binghamton airport is a charming little airport.
On this day, there were a total of 5 flights departing this
airport between 7am and 3pm.)
09:00am - Land in Philadelphia on time (Good luck continues ....)

This is where the horror begins. A couple of half-hour delays in the departure are announced after which the flight is cancelled. Some weather related problem somewhere in the country has messed up US Airways and all flight schedules have gone awry.

We manage to get ourselves on a 12:30pm flight which in turn is delayed by a few minutes (no big deal!). We board a tiny plane and quickly settle in our cramped spaces only to discover that the plane has been overfueled and will have to be defueled! There is also some paper-work induced delay. 30 minutes later, we are finally ready for take off.

We arrive in Boston around 3:30pm minus Todd's checked in luggage. Another hour later we leave the airport without his bag. Finally arrive at the hotel at 5pm - almost a 12-hour adventure!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

America's Favorite Pastime

Good to be back in Los Angeles once again! One of the highlights of this trip is attending a baseball game with family. Inspite of spending twenty years in the US, America's Favorite Pastime has somehow never managed to become mine. I have not been able to get into this sport. Not sure if it is out of loyalty to Cricket or what.

But I must admit that I had a lot of fun when all of us went to the Angel Stadium to see the Angels play Pittsburgh. Richard and Kanan invited us to the suite (which is really the only way to attend a sporting event in the US). Got a chance to catch up with family and friends which is always a treat. Anupam uncle gave me a quick tutorial about baseball which made the game even more enjoyable. Of course the usual frills of attending a baseball game (hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, cotton candy, nachos, beer etc.) were all there.

Best of all, Angels won 10-1!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Airline Efficiency?

I have been doing a fair share of flying while in India and have been very impressed at the ability of all airlines to minimize ground time. Planes land, passengers de-plane, new passengers board and the aircraft is back in the sky in less than half hour. But before you start giving a lot of credit to the process efficiencies, 6-sigma and ISO-9000 programs within the airline companies, I believe that most of the credit needs to go to the passengers.

As I have mentioned in a couple of my postings before, Indians do not like to wait. Earlier this week, I was observing passenger behavior sitting at the Hyderabad airport. Even before the plane has landed, passengers are already crowded close to the gate. As soon as their plane lands, more passengers huddle around. As soon as the first boarding announcement is made, ever passenger is up, in line and pushing ahead to board.

Of course, getting off the plane is no different. You can sense the urgency among fellow travellers to tear off their seat belts and lunge for their hand luggage the moment the aircraft touches down. Despite pleas by the air hostesses, folks are up and getting ready to de-plane before the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign has been turned off.

So - much credit to the passengers for the increase in airline efficiency (and profitability!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chief Destruction Officer!

I have never heard this one before but according to a quote attributed to Tom Peters in The Hindu, he refers to CEOs as CDOs - Chief Destruction Officer! Highly compensated guys who work tirelessly to blow up their own companies before their competition does.

In an uncanny replay of a similar scenario that is being hotly debated in the US, CEO compensation is the topic of discussion these days in India Inc. According to today's editorial in The Hindu, Indian CEOs are much better off than their counterparts throughout the world when their compensation is taken as a percentage of their company's profit. If the salary difference between a CEO and the company's lowest paid employee (x1000) is a cause for angst for many in the US, consider that the difference is between 15,000 to 20,000 in India.

Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, urged companies to take a hard look at this issue and of course prompty came under fire because his suggestion was considered as anti-reform!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

No guns, knives, bombs etc.

I am not kidding about this. I noticed this as I was waiting in the line for Security Check at the Chennai airport last night. Large flat panel monitors above the x-ray machines listed items that were unacceptable in your carry-on baggage. Here is a sampler:

  • Brass Knuckles
  • Crowbars
  • Knives
  • Golf Clubs
  • Dynamite - other types of explosives are probably ok
  • Razors - pretty normal .... but read on
  • Gels including shaving creams - pretty normal ... but read on
  • Books (1 or 2) - more than that could be construed as a weapon!
Items that are permitted:

  • Shaving kit (without a razor and a shaving cream?)