Triangle Trip

Tag: Asiana

What’s in Your Laptop Bag?

by on Jun.02, 2009, under Business Tools, Business Travel

I travel a lot for work and also work remotely at various locations so its critical I have essential items in my laptop bag where ever I go.  Here is a brief look inside my laptop bag, starting from the bag itself:

1. The Bag – I have regular North Face backpack that I got in the spring of 2000.  It’s nothing special, but it has survived the rigors of college, the demands of the workplace, and the grind of air travel.  Yet even after 9 years, it’s still very much intact and sturdy.  And still will be for several more years.

2. The Laptop15″ MacBook Pro.  I became a Mac convert last March after using PCs since 386’s were the cutting edge in personal computing.  What took me so long?  Mac OS X is the far superior operating system and the Apple Macintosh is a very fine machine.  A bit pricey but definitely worth it.

3. The Other Electronic Device Canon Powershot SD500.  Sometimes my iPhone camera will just not do.

4. The Peripherals – I carry all my laptop peripherals in a nylon bag with many pockets about the size of a large fanny pack that I bought from Walgreens.  It’s pretty ugly but serves its purpose.

a) Power Adapter for MacBook Pro – For obvious reasons.

b) Ethernet Cable – Sometimes you have to go wired.

c) Kensington Security Cable – If I’m in a public place and have to leave my laptop to go somewhere even briefly, I always make sure to lock down my laptop.

d) Mouse, Travel-Size – I rarely use this, however, now that I’m on a MacBook.

e) USB Cable for iPhone – To charge my sorry iPhone battery.

f) 2GB Flash Drive – Emailing 700MB AVI files do not work.

g) DVI to VGA Display Adapter – Sometimes I will need to connect my MacBook to a projector to give those cliche powerpoint presentations.

h) USB Cable for Digital Camera – For those times on the road I need to transfer that pic to my laptop in order to email proof that Jessica Alba shared the elevator with me.

i) Charger for Digital Camera – I’ve had too many instances where I turn on my digital camera and it goes dead.

j) 4GB iPod Mini – This is not for listening to music.  My iPhone is for that.  I had no use for this piece of classic hardware.  So I decided to turn it into a mini hard drive.  This is for the times when a 2GB Flash Drive is not enough.

5. The Cards – I carry an oversized card carrying case to hold essential cards such as:

a) Business Cards – …obviously.

b) Travel Program Cards – Not just any card from an airline mileage club or a hotel rewards program.  These need to be cards that show status.  Not so much to show that you have status for a certain travel program but rather to show you have status at a partner travel program.  This has come in handy when I had to show that I was Star Alliance Gold when flying on Asiana using my United Premier Executive card or when I used my Amtrak Select Plus card to get into the Continental lounge.

c) Health Insurance Card – If I need any medical attention while traveling.

d) Clear Card – This is kind of useless as I have only been able to use this at New York’s JFK.

e) Regus Gold Card – The Regus Gold Card gets me access to thousands of business lounges across the US.  However, the few business lounges I’ve visited have been very disappointing; usually they are just a kitchen area with some chairs and a table.  Good thing I didn’t pay for this card; I got it complimentary with the useless Clear Card… figures.

f) Gift Certificate Cards – You never know when you need to buy something while traveling… or re-gift them while traveling.

g) Backup Credit and Checking Cards – See my post on why this is essential.

6. The Large Envelope – I carry a large envelope to hold some critical items:

a) Checkbook – No one writes checks these days but checks are a great substitute for an ATM at hotels.

b) Passport – This is not so much so I can go spontaneously to Paris but rather so that I have a government issued ID if I lose my driver’s license while traveling in order to fly back home.

c) Collar Stays – If I’m working at a location away from home, I drop off my dry cleaning at that location if I know I’m going to be back the week after.  Before dropping my shirts off at the dry cleaners, I always remove the collar stays.  They get placed in this large envelope so when I pick my dry cleaning up the week after, I have them to put back in my shirts.  Collar stays are essential for a professional look.

d) Several US Quarters – Barack said we need change.

e) Beverage Coupons on Various Airlines – I need to unwind in the air after a grueling week on the road.

7. Pad and Pens – There are times when I just need to jot or doodle some things down, like when playing Sudoku.

8. Earphones – Occasionally I rely on 2Pac to provide a more suitable work environment.

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How to fast track to Star Alliance Gold status

by on Jan.20, 2009, under Airlines

Star Alliance is probably the best airline partnership out there. United, US Airways, and Air Canada in North America. BMI, Lufthansa, and Swiss among others in Europe. Asiana, ANA, Singapore, Air China and a couple others in Asia, which is probably the strongest aspect of the alliance. The Star Alliance Gold status is the highest status within Star Alliance, with benefits such as lounge access for any of the Star Alliance partners on any international flight, priority check-in and boarding, and extra baggage allowance.

Now you can get Star Alliance Gold by becoming Premier Executive on United or Gold on US Airways, but that requires you to bank 50,000 actual flown miles or 60 segments in one calendar year. There’s actually a better alternative: bank miles with Asiana Airlines when flying with United, US Airways, or any other Star Alliance partner.

Asiana Airlines requires you to fly only 40,000 miles or 50 segments and the qualification period is 2 years, not 1 year, to become Asiana Diamond, which gets you Star Alliance Gold. Not only that, your Asiana Diamond status is valid for 3 years, not just 1 year like United or US Airways.

No more banking miles with crappy US domestic carriers.

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US Flight Attendants: Service with a Scowl

by on Jan.18, 2009, under Airlines

There is a lot of things wrong with US domestic airlines. But I think the #1 thing that is wrong is the quality of service. Onboard a US carrier, flight attendants are rude, not helpful, and impatient. I think they are still mad their pensions disappeared.

They bark commands rather than politely asking. They don’t attempt to help when people are struggling to put luggage in the overhead bins. They are irritable when you ask them for anything.

I remember flying back from Asia on United last year when sometime before landing I asked one of the flight attendants for the US customs and immigration forms. She responded with a very surly response to the effect that they had passed them out many times and was annoyed that I had asked. But she did say she would get them for me. She then proceeded to have a 15 minute personal conversion with the person seated directly behind me. I never received those forms from her.

I decided afterwards that I would never fly a US carrier to go to Asia. This past year I went to Asia several times and each time I had pleasant experiences on ANA, Asiana, Singapore, and Korean Air. There is a world of a difference. You can yell at the flight attendants on these Asian carriers and you will get a gentle apology. You can be a body builder and they will still attempt to help with you with your luggage.

Not only in terms of quality of service but they are world class in a different aspect. They can fit in the aisles with plenty of room, are easy on the eyes, and they didn’t roam the earth with dinosaurs. Damn those US discrimination laws and labor unions.

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