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Disillusioned These Days


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#1 ev780

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 12:09 PM

Hi all!!  Been a while.  I have been checking in just not participating much. Life does that.

 

As the title above suggests I have kind of lost my way as far as diving goes.  I will get interested again, look for a trip then kind of not pull the trigger. In analyzing why I looked at the usual suspects. Interests changing? Nah,  I still love diving and seeing far away places. Money? Maybe a little but no so much as to totally take me out of the game. Lack of a SO with the same interest. Maybe, a little of that too. But isn't that what this group is about?

 

The real answer is that the cost benefit of air travel has me disillusioned. The Truk/Palau trip 2 years ago was a complete disaster and I have not left the country since. Outbound flight, screwed up. Return flight worse. Travel insurance drama. Just all in all a big mess. Not really anyone's fault just a calamity of errors.  Even the domestic flights I have taken recently have all been delayed, mechanical trouble, weather, blah blah blah.  And the way airlines treat us these days!  Just a number/cargo.  I think they would all be happier if they could just knock us out for the duration, like in the move The Fifth Element.  If I treated my customers like that I would have been flipping burgers 15 years ago!

 

I know what most people will say, "That's the way it is now." Or, "just stay flexible."  Or, "Move" And yeah you are right and I get it, but there comes a point where you look at a trip and just know it will be nothing but a nightmare to get there and back.  No one airline is the problem. They all suck!  Flying makes me anxious enough without having to sleep on an inspection table in an airport next to the homeless!  Airlines take no responsibility for your care.  You are 10's of thousands of miles from home with no resources and they just look at you across the counter and say, "Our schedule is not guaranteed." " It's the weather/a broken johnson rod/ air traffic control/ insert your favorite excuse here."  "I can route you through Hoboken. I live in Colorado and this is Honolulu. Sorry that is all I have"  All this runs through my mind.  So I just end up closing the browser window without hitting the go button.  

 

It's sad really that it is so bad as to be the first thing I now think about.  Diving has always been a huge part of my life but it just doesn't seem worth it these days.  Every person has their own cost/benefit scale and mine seems to have shifted very subtly.   We have traded too much of our service requirements away for low cost and let the airlines absolve themselves of a lot of responsibilities for taking care of us as customers. How does everyone else feel?  Probably not going to get much of a response because if someone is disillusioned they will be less likely to check in but might turn into an interesting conversation anyway.

 


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#2 Cmdr. Clownfish

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 12:46 PM

I'm the last person to defend the way airlines treat their customers and completely understand why someone would be disillusioned.  I can't think of another industry where someone can stay in business while treating customers as poorly as they do.  But, like you say, what are you going to do about it?  Are you going to make it worse by depriving yourself of something that will give you joy or are you going to covertly give them the finger and get on with your life?  Sadly those are your only two choices that I can think of.

 

For what it is worth, I get it.  After my last trip back from Dom I nicknamed American Airlines something else that starts with A and still uses the AA logo.  They earned every bit of it.  But travel time is short in the grand scheme of things, doesn't seem that way but it really is if you add the hours up.


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#3 WreckWench

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 01:01 PM

And US carriers are worse than most int'l carriers these days. I just returned from Raja Ampat and here was my routing...

 

Greenville Spartenburg SC

Philly

Doha Qatar

Bali Indonesia

Manado Indonesia

Sorong Indonesia and then back again.

 

I made every flight without issue until I get to Philly on the return.  Then its weather cancellations and they can't get me to SC until Wed and its Monday am. But they can get me 3 hrs away to Charlotte so I take that flight after standing hours in line and 59 mins on hold with AA.

 

The CLT flight was boarded and then deplaned after an hour delay due to damage to the plane. We miraculously find another plane and then they chg the gate several times and cancel that fight for weather. I am boarded a 3rd plane that sits on the runway for over 2 hrs and finally takes off to land 8 hrs after my original flight was to have landed. Now it is the next day and I'm looking for a hotel at 2am.  I am finally picked up the next day and after a 3 hr drive I get home.

 

Yes ain't travel fun!

 

And while one delay was equipment failure the others were weather so no hotel voucher no nothing.

 

Travel ain't for sissies!

 

 

BUT.....

 

The trip was one of the best ever in my life and was a bucket list destination. So would I do it again? Hell yes...travel delays and all!



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#4 Diver Ed

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Posted 24 February 2016 - 01:24 AM

Having experienced the same delays as Fred did on that Truk / Palau trip a couple of years ago, as well as several similar experiences, I can relate.  Six months after that trip, I did a Fiji trip.  When I got to the airport, they notified me that the flight was cancelled, and told me that they were kind enough to reschedule me on a flight the next day.  They were acting as if I should be grateful for all of the effort they went through to make my vacation a wonderful experience.  Both dumbfounded and pissed, I asked if anyone ever thought of calling me and telling me this prior to my hour drive to the airport.  I was told that the airline tried, but they didn't have my phone number.  Within seconds of that, my phone rang.  It was the airlines.  I managed to get them to rebook me on a flight that was leaving from the tiny airport about five miles from my house in about 50 minutes.  Luck was with me, as there were no cops on the road, and I made the hour drive in about 40 minutes.  My piss poor mood lasted throughout my flights, but it quickly disappeared once Island Time took over.  For a stretch, I had five consecutive trips with delays and or cancelled flights.  As Kamala said, almost all were issues here in the states.  The last few times that I have travelled, everything went smoothly.  Similar to Fred, I hate the travel portion of trips, and am expecting issues when I get to the airport, or look at the board while making a connection now.  Three things that I have learned over the last few years are, 1- Travel insurance can be a huge relief if you end up missing a trip.  2- If you are traveling half way around the world, and spending a lot of money to get there, an extra day or two on the front end is worth a lot more that it costs.  3- Even when you have a difficult trip with delays or missed flights, once you get there, and jump in the water, it is amazing how quickly those bad memories and experiences wash away.  


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#5 Cajun Diver

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Posted 24 February 2016 - 08:43 PM

I understand your frustration - after the canceled flight to Fiji last year and not getting a notice in time to drive to Houston (I've been trying to use our regional airport but it's just AA and they like to cancel that flight - they called me right after I arrived at the airport) I was frustrated.  It cost me 2 days when with a little better customer service I could have drove to Houston / rerouted and would have made all of the flights.

 

I haven't let it discourage me though and had excellent flights / connections to Manila in January.  I do tend to go to those places that are easy to get to more though and have learned to try to add days at the front like Ed mentions since it lessens my worry / stress while traveling.  I also try to take advantage of upgrades when possible (I upgraded to 1st class for the Houston to Honolulu leg - cost me $299 but got me to the front with good meals and I walked off the plane in Honolulu to the next gate to the plane to Guam that was loading so really helped with the stress).

 

So join a trip that's easy to get to and get started again!

 

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#6 shadragon

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Posted 26 February 2016 - 02:04 PM

I live on an island, so frequent international air travel is unavoidable. Last year, I was one flight away from Platinum status so I've seen a delay or two. My tips:

 

- Leave a day earlier than you need to and schedule your return flight to come back the day before your vacation ends. That gives you flexibility and reduces the stress of delays/cancellations. 

 

- Locate the gate for your next flight before heading off for a meal or other activity. Knowing where it is, let's you get there on time.

 

- Always be able to live off what you have in your carry-on for 24-48 hours. Checked bags sometimes travel without you. 

 

- When dealing with airline staff (even the ticked off ones) to resolve issues, be polite, smile and be patient. Your chances of success are greatly enhanced. 

 

- Have the airline customer service phone numbers in your phone. Then you have an alternative instead of standing in long lines.

 

- Travel insurance rocks. 

 

- I fly American usually. They have a great phone app that updates flights and gate numbers. One day, the wife received an app alert. We were able to re-book a flight before the actual cancellation had been announced at the gate. 

 

- If you have a flexible schedule, you can take a bump and end up with a business class ticket, free air miles and five hundred to a thousand bucks in your pocket. The wife does this quite often when they are desperate for someone to give up a seat and ask for volunteers. Don't be afraid to negotiate bump rewards.

 

- A battery charge pack to top up your phone / tablet without having to deal with the crowded public charge stations. Really helps if stuck somewhere in a crowd of thousands or you're rushing and can't stop to use one. This unit will let me charge my phone and tablet twice before needing to be plugged in. Also, I can plug my phone / tablet into it in my carry-on bag and charge while moving or in the air. Turn off your phone when in the air to save battery life.  

 

- Travelling long distance or with multiple layovers? Admirals Club. Well worth the price and a decent place to spend multiple idle hours. 

 

The vast majority of my flights have been uneventful and the airlines do reasonably well keeping to their schedules. However, it isn't the end of the world if there are delays.

 

Feel free to add your own tips.

 

Cheers.    


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#7 WreckWench

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Posted 28 February 2016 - 01:39 PM

Simon is right... we ain't going to stop diving so we gotta deal with the air issues. This is a great topic....how to manage air travel issues!



Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
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#8 ev780

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Posted 01 March 2016 - 03:48 PM

I had a real long post full of typical Fred Hyperbole and just deleted it.

 

Looks like most of you have learned to just live with it.  Sure wish I could. But poor customer service really rubs me the wrong way.  I have spent my entire life giving customer service is one way or another. The last 30 years of which I have lived in Vail where customer service is the bedrock on which this whole county operates. I just can't relate to telling anyone that there is nothing I can do.

 

Let me relay something.  There is a bit of weather here and anyone who has any familiarity with the Vail area knows Vail Pass is a 10,600 foot mountain pass that is legendary in the winter for closures, pile-ups, slow traffic, etc. Also there is rarely excess capacity in our lodging in and around town. So when bad things happen we kick in the plan.  There are cots stored in the chapel and those get set up.  There are pre-arranged contracts that allow food from the local fast food outlets. And we get everyone settled, park their cars for free, feed them and get them access to bathroom facilities. Not the best but they are warm, fed and as comfortable as we can make them.  We certainly don't just shrug our shoulders and blame mother nature.

 

Airports and airlines could easily do the same thing but that would be way too easy.


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#9 Diver Ed

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Posted 02 March 2016 - 08:14 AM

I had a real long post full of typical Fred Hyperbole and just deleted it.

 

Looks like most of you have learned to just live with it.  Sure wish I could. But poor customer service really rubs me the wrong way.  I have spent my entire life giving customer service is one way or another. The last 30 years of which I have lived in Vail where customer service is the bedrock on which this whole county operates. I just can't relate to telling anyone that there is nothing I can do.

 

Let me relay something.  There is a bit of weather here and anyone who has any familiarity with the Vail area knows Vail Pass is a 10,600 foot mountain pass that is legendary in the winter for closures, pile-ups, slow traffic, etc. Also there is rarely excess capacity in our lodging in and around town. So when bad things happen we kick in the plan.  There are cots stored in the chapel and those get set up.  There are pre-arranged contracts that allow food from the local fast food outlets. And we get everyone settled, park their cars for free, feed them and get them access to bathroom facilities. Not the best but they are warm, fed and as comfortable as we can make them.  We certainly don't just shrug our shoulders and blame mother nature.

 

Airports and airlines could easily do the same thing but that would be way too easy.

 

 

It is a sad commentary on society these days, but I feel what you are describing with your town is the rare exception instead of the norm.  Far too many businesses and places have the attitude of, we already have your money, so you are on your own.  They are more interested in getting the next dollar than they are in making sure that you have a decent experience.  I feel that attitude was one of the issues that Kamala wanted to change when she started SingleDivers.  Put in some extra, and give the people a better overall experience.  As for the airlines, they know that people need to fly, and are going to fly.  Like so many other businesses and people, they adopted the business model of not trying to be better than the other airlines, just don't be significantly worse.  We are going to travel anyway, and as long as one airline doesn't ruin it for the rest by doing a decent job, they can all get away with abusing the customers.  I know it will be a lousy experience going in, and realize that the positive of the vacation far out weighs the negative of the flying portion.  Even sub par diving is going to make me forget how lousy the flying experience is.  That said, I have only had one frustrating flying experience since the Truk trip.  Everyone had problems in and out of Hawaii on that trip for some reason, even though we flew on different days.  That said, I would happily go on that trip again tomorrow, even if I knew that I would have the same problems with cancelled and delayed flights.  The diving makes the headaches all worth it to me.  As Kamala mentioned, it also seems that the issues are usually local.  When I fly, I make sure that I am not cutting things close with a connection somewhere in the US.  It is far better to sit in the airport for an extra couple of hours, than it is to miss a connection due to a delay.  


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#10 jesterdiver

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 10:28 PM

I think fundamentally what frustrates air travelers the most, is the lack of control. We hate not having any control, that feeling of complete helplessness. It's very defeating and frustrates some of us to the point of just wanting to give up. I have found for the key, is taking as much control back as I can, taking the initiative and being pro-active. The tips Shadragon and Diver Ed are all things that help you take back some of the control over your own fate. The reality is that if you book a flight and think that you will smoothly check in, take off on time, land on time and have your luggage waiting there for you as you get off, looking cleaner than it did when you took off, perhaps with a bow and a tag reading "thank you for your business", you're probably got a little left over narcosis going on! Should we expect a nightmare on the other hand, of course not. 

 

Truth is, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Be proactive to minimize the chances of a bad experience. Pad your travel times, download apps with alerts, look for updates along the way, use your flexibility with padded travel times as leverage over the airlines, but above all, remember that when it comes to dive travel around the world, its not the journey that matters...its the destination!

 

I live my life by a few words that i have taken creative license with, and this applies to air travel as much as anything... "Be smart and strong enough to change the things I can, have the serenity to accept the things i can't, and have the wisdom to know the difference. And no matter what keep things in perspective"! Lets not forget that being upset that your flight gets delayed on the way to a dive paradise is the definition of first world problems! Even if the travel sucked, hey I get to go diving! I'm part of a precious few that will ever get to experience existing underwater, worrying about the travel there would be taking that experience for granted. 


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#11 WreckWench

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 10:36 AM

Thanks Jose...well said. And while I have had numerous travel issues... (but not that many compared to how often I go diving/travel) I have been BLESSED to usually have the delays AFTER the trip. And usually if you have to have them...well that is the way to do it! **

 

 

 

 

*unless the delays force the jetlag back that you so carefully worked so hard to avoid! But still...it beats being before the trip...jetlag or not.



Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
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Kamala Shadduck c/o SingleDivers.com LLC
2234 North Federal Hwy, #1010 Boca Raton, FL 33431
formerly...
710 Dive Buddy Lane; Salem, SC 29676
864-557-6079 tel/celfone/office or tollfree fax 888-480-0906

#12 WreckWench

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 10:37 AM

Thanks for the great ideas everyone and keep them coming!

We'll set up a SD.com FAQ on how to avoid travel delays and what to do when you experience them sort of thing! :cool1:



Contact me directly at Kamala@SingleDivers.com for your private or group travel needs or 864-557-6079 AND don't miss SD's 2018-2021 Trips! ....here! Most are once in a lifetime opportunities...don't miss the chance to go!!
SD Forms & Documents.... here !

Click here TO PAY for Merchandise, Membership, or Travel
"Imitation is the sincerest flattery." - Gandhi
"Imitation is proof that originality is rare." - ScubaHawk
SingleDivers.com...often imitated...never duplicated!

Kamala Shadduck c/o SingleDivers.com LLC
2234 North Federal Hwy, #1010 Boca Raton, FL 33431
formerly...
710 Dive Buddy Lane; Salem, SC 29676
864-557-6079 tel/celfone/office or tollfree fax 888-480-0906

#13 jesterdiver

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 10:57 AM

Here's another travel tip:

 

Carry with you the things that will make you happy when you get where you're going, not necessarily the things you think you need.

 

On my way to a dive destination, I regularly have in my carry on and personal item bag my regs, my dive computers, my backplate and wing, my mask, my fins with booties and swim shorts. These are the things I NEED to be happy at a dive destination.

 

Things like toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo, etc are things my roommate NEEDS from me to for him/her be happy, guess which trumps? :lol:

And honestly you can get all that stuff where ever you are going, but my personal dive gear is like a warm blanket, it'll be the difference of feeling mildly inconvenienced and truly annoyed when my checked bags are delayed.

 

I leave enough room in my checked bag(s) so that on the way back home I can put most of that stuff in there and lighten my carry on load. Although regs and dive computers stay with their daddy at all times! LOL


Edited by jesterdiver, 04 March 2016 - 11:15 AM.





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