Wednesday, November 23, 2011

50% airlines and something silly...

For more than two decades I have flown more than 100,000 miles per year.  When you fly that much you begin to build enough experience on various airlines to form some conclusions.   For example, I will go out of my way to avoid flying  on what was once dubbed Hughes Air Worst (now US Air).   At the same time in Mexico I try to avoid Aeromexico.   (The national flag carrier of Mexico.)   Most national airlines were started when air travel was somehow romantic and many countries thought it was wonderful to have a flag carrier.  Fortunately, market forces beginning in the 1970s began to blow up those flag carriers and air travel improved as a result.

The last couple of days confirmed my prejudices about Aeromexico.   As I talked about in an earlier post, we went from San Miguel to Merida on Sunday.    We had a total of four flights to get from here to there and back.  (Many flights from one place to another go through Mexico City.)   A day before the Sunday flight we got a note from Aeromexico that they had cancelled the flight between Leon and Mexico City.   So we arranged other transportation to Mexico City and got to Leon on the original second leg of the flight. 

This morning, the airport in Merida was fogged in for an 8:20 flight.  The gate personnel were not very informative about what was going to happen but when we did take off two and a half hours late, we were told that we would arrive at 12:15 (all times with this airline are approximate).   We arrived about ten minutes after our flight to Leon left (or about a half an hour after the revised projected arrival).

We got off the plane in Terminal 2, which is the domestic terminal at Mexico City.  It is not exactly the picture of efficiency.  We were told to go down a hall for connections and then that required us to go through security again (even though we had been checked in Merida) but by doing that we were able to stay on the same level (the other option would have been to go down to the first level and get with the agents downstairs.)  We quickly went to the first gate and explained that we had missed our flight to Leon and the agent told us to go to gate 65, when we got there we were told to go to 75, and then on return to go back to 65. The Aeromexico staff seemed intent on letting us get some aerobic exercise but I do not think it was out of concern for our health. I will admit that I do not have a high threshold for being part of human ping-pong so I grumped a bit. (Well actually a bit more than a bit.)   After a couple of other volleys we arrived at the real information desk – which is between 65 and 75 and they were able to get us on a flight at 3 (about 2 hours later).  So in the end Aeromexico was able to serve us on 50% of the original flights.    I am not sure how most people would grade their performance but in my book 50% is well below par. 

Adam Osborne, the computer entrepreneur once said that adequate is sufficient and anything beyond it is superfluous.   That certainly did not prove true in computers and it also does not apply to most other things in life including airlines.

So what was the alternative?  We could have avoided Mexico City by flying to Houston and then to Merida and then returning by the same route.   It would not have been the most logical route but then did I say I rank Aeromexico beside US Air?

Now to the silly; the room that we were in in Merida was a junior suite – thus it had a nice sitting room and a bedroom.  It was a very comfortable hotel room.   But the whole thing is probably about 600 sq.ft.  In the sitting room was a portable telephone.   There was an extension in the bedroom.   But then just in case someone called you while you were doing your business there was an extension in the toilet.  I do not want to get gross here but in those rooms with a potty phone I have always wondered about why they were necessary.   Explanations abound.   #1 – These rooms are only rented to people who are not very mobile so they need phones everywhere.  #2 – Some people think bathroom sounds are great accompaniment to their mundane talk.  They may be correct.  #3 – The nature of the room holder’s talk is so confidential that it must take place in a secure room and these special rooms are constructed to dampen noise.  #4 – Some people believe that the nature of talk is best when it is done in darkness (usually hotel room bathrooms have no window).  #5 - These people suffer from multi ringee-dingee phobia (discovered by an obscure Austrian psychoanalyst which found that some people cannot stand to have a phone ring more than once).   As I said there are plenty of explanations just none that I can find logical.

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