Crown Vic. Putting my flashlight on the dash in a red plastic cup on strobe mode and gonna make some time.
Carolyn and I were flying from LGA to DCA early this morning. I booked an award ticket through UAL on USAIR, but mine was a connecting flight through PHL as there wasn’t any availability on the direct for award tickets. On UAL this means you have a confirmed flight on the less optimal route but if there are seats at the gate the agent will get you to your destination the most efficient route available, which is also the lowest CO2 emission route and the lowest cost route for the airline: everybody wins.
I called US air the night before to verify that I could fly standby (no problem, I was told) and that there were seats (looks like plenty, I was told). No problemmo.
But not with US-Air. Not that they weren’t friendly enough, but as my booking class was “X” and they didn’t have any “X” seats left, they couldn’t book me even though there were plenty of open seats. I tried with the gate agent, the supervisor, all to no avail. I called UAL but they don’t have any visible inventory because US-Air doesn’t share it with them. US-Air tells me UAL has to get me into one of their open seats. UAL shows no open seats.
So I figure I’ll just go to the gate. Gate agents have special powers over last minute seating. I show them my ticket and they immediately hand it back “no, we already called United, they won’t put you on this flight.” I’m thinking there must be a note on my ticket – but no, apparently the counter had called the gate and specifically told them not to let me on the flight. I get on the phone with UAL and they tell me “I don’t understand why they won’t just accept your coupon.” No budging.
I thought maybe I’d take the shuttle over to JFK and fly direct to IAD, but Carolyn pointed out there was a UAL express flight from LGA-IAD. As I have to get back to IAD later in the day anyway, it is a better option (pick up a rental car and drive myself into DC and back out). UAL got me on it no problem. I bus myself over to the UAL counter, and a very cool and very knowledgeable agent at the counter tells me about his family in Italy and his recording business in Rome while he gets me a very good seat on the LGA-IAD shuttle and clears my upgrade and tickets me for tonight’s flight back to SFO. Friendly agents, premium seating, no hassle, expedited security line.
UAL win: USAir Fail.
Glad I’m not causing a transfer payment after all. Lesson: it is worth flying a less convenient route on UAL than a more convenient one on USAir.
My nice Buick rental car covered in snow.
It was quiet but underpowered.
I got a Toyota Landcruiser as a rental car for the first time. It was kind of absurd as a rental. Oversized and a bit mushy, but otherwise it was a perfectly competent car. I still don’t get the “luxury 4WD” concept. I understand luxury cars – they are about comfort. But I don’t get a vehicle that’s premise is to be durable and tough yet coddles it’s occupants as if they’re eggs. You should be able to climb into a 4WD vehicle covered in mud and not think twice about the interior.
Rental car review
- I used the backup sensor in a parking lot – a good thing as the car is long and has poor visibility out the back.
- It has an outside temperature indicator which I like.
- The seat moves all the way back when you take the key out, and then back to where it was for us old people.
- The tailgate opens and closes itself, which is kind of absurd and overkill but fun in a gadgety way.
- The engine is fairly powerful (Canadian rentals seem to be more powerful than US rentals – my .ca Grand Am would spin it’s wheels embarrassingly easily, whereas my .ca.us Grand Am in LA was kind of anemic).
- It’s quiet and comfortable.
- The rear seats fold into the floor of the car – just like a mini-van.
- The stereo had an analog input and a 6 CD MP3 changer
- It has Microsoft Sync – more on that below.
Rental car review
- Quiet – It is pretty quiet
- Comfortable – Not terribly comfortable. I don’t like squishy seats, but I suppose for some people it is..
- Basic amenities – Power everything, but no outside temperature reading. I like knowing the outside temp.
- Stereo – surprisingly mediocre for a fancy-ish car. The sound isn’t great and the radio has trouble getting marginal stations. Plus the radio display doesn’t tell you what station you’re listening too, which is helpful in a rental car.
- Security – the trunk is big and secure.
- Quiet – this car is about as quiet as any I’ve rented except perhaps the Audi A4.
- Comfortable – the V50 is a little less roomy than a torus, but I find the layout fits very well and doesn’t feel at all cramped.
- Basic amenities – I’ve gotten rental cars with manual windows or manual seats and mirror adjustments. It would matter less in one’s own car or just driving around, but realizing the mirrors are out of wack as you try to merge onto the freeway that is probably taking you the right direction before the GPS has locked satellites and discovering that you have to reach over, unroll the window, and poke at the mirror is sub optimal. The Volvo has everything you’d expect.
- Stereo – up here in Canada I listen to CBC-R2. Good classical and some funky music too. It’s nice when it sounds good. The Volvo has a great stereo that performs well at any volume and isn’t absurdly bass heavy like a Scion. On the other hand, the Volvo doesn’t have an iPod port like the Audi or a MP3 compatible CD player like a lot of Mustangs have.
- Security – I usually have a computer with me and sometimes it is convenient or necessary to leave it in the car. A trunk is a lot more secure than a wagon, and while the Volvo has a pull-out cover to hide what’s in the back, it’s not as confidence inspiring as having a solid trunk.
In the parking lot here in Overland Park,KS I saw this Blues Brothers mobile. Oddly, an automation engineer sitting near where I was working in RDU was talking about the Blues Brothers just earlier tonight. And, even more oddly, my rental car was a… Crowne Vic! Amazing!