The Woman in 42A

Midweek I had contemplated a last minute weekend in NYC but the airlines would rather fly empty seats than price at a level where the spontaneous traveller will bite.   Good luck with that Mr Walsh.

However, it was a happy turn of events as New York came to London in the shape of a good friend – The Woman in 42A.    Usually by a Friday evening my mind can about deal with Shiraz or Pinot / pizza or pasta but not last night.

A formidable corporate player, at the top of her game, The Woman in 42A, has relatively recently started to work for herself with impressive results.  In plying her trade she has also rediscovered  burnished her personal brand.   Freed from corporate constrains that rich personal brand equity is front and centre and is a compelling offering for any organisation who requires a bit of vision.

We spoke a lot about personal branding and how that, all too often, we don’t pay the attention that we should to both building and communicating it.

And of course your personal brand is a living entity.   You need to develop it and constantly expose it to new stimulus to ensure it’s a brand that maintains its relevance.   There are examples all around of people who do just that, often right in front of you – Mario our mixologist at Montgomery Place exemplifies it.  Much more than technical know how.  A desire and ability to both quickly respond to AND crucially initiate trends.

That desire for new stimulus meant that my dining companion had flown to London for a few days and crafted an itinerary which will ensure that her yellow legal pad is filled by the time she arrives back at JFK.

And a consequence of that ?   She got me thinking a bit more and my ‘to read’ list just got a bit longer……

Tick, Tock : London – Vienna – London

I do not intend to repeat this time recording exercise – I am nowhere near OCD enough – but I thought it would be kind of fun to do it and test the copy of  ‘Zoundry Raven’ I downloaded last night which allows me to blog from my netbook and upload to WordPress at a later time when connected to the Internet.

SUMMARY

TOTAL TIME FLAT – FLAT = 15hrs 56 mins

TOTAL TIME ACTUALLY MOVING = 10hrs 9 mins

(Foot, Tube, Train, Bus, Plane, Train, Foot, Train, Plane, Bus, Train, Tube

HOURS IN VIENNA PROPER = 5 hrs 47 mins

IN DETAIL

0440am First alarm clock (Blackberry) goes off

0445am Second alarm clock (iTouch) goes off.450px-austria_parlament_athena

0500am Out of bed, teeth, shave, shower

0525am Leave flat

0530am On District Line Platform at Nottinghill Gate Station

0542am Tube train arrives

0550am Onboard Heathrow Express

0555am Depart Paddington

0610am Arrive Heathrow Central

0615am Retrieve Boarding Pass from machine

0630am Arrive Landside Terminal Three (for reasons that escape me British Airways can open Terminal Five and yet the BA flights to Vienna and Lisbon (and a few others) leave from here. Passengers connecting from longhaul must love this arrangement !

0631am Buy some Euros

0635am Arrive in the Japanese Airline’s Lounge which is manned by BA directed towards the First Class Lounge: all the newspapers, key weeklynews magazines. A latte, a pain au chocolate, a strawberry yogurt and a mimosa.

0700am Final Boarding Call. Seemed early but that’s because a bus was involved to take you to the aeroplane steps. Not much time to think about bus journey too busy fascinated by an American couple chewing gum, nice to see that having reached her mid-twenties she’s not forgotten the act of clacking her gum for all to hear. Charming.

0735am BA 696 Take off – on time !

NOW CHANGING TO CENTRAL EUROPEAN SUMMER TIME

0900am Breakfast in Eurotraveller Cabin – cold bacon and egg sandwich, orange juice and coffee.

1040am Touchdown (15 minutes early)

1105am CAT Express Train to Vienna

1121am Arrive Vienna

1135am Meet the C&M Clan

11.45am A beer on the terrace at Palmenhaus at 1 Burggarten

1.00pm Lunch at DO & CO at Stephansplatz – Tiger prawns followed by steak, asparagus and wahsabi mash with two glasses of a very decent white wine – the name escapes me.

3.30pm Coffee and cake at Cafe Landtmann at Dr Karl Lueger Ring 4

4.30pm Say my goodbyes and walk back to the Station

5.08pm CAT Express to Airport

5.24pm Arrive Airport

5.30pm Retrieve Boarding Pass from machine

5.40pm Arrive Lounge – Coke Zero, black coffee

6.35pm Arrive Departure Gate

7.09pm BA705 Takeoff (6 minutes early !), very empty flight

NOW CHANGING TO BRITISH SUMMER TIME

6.25pm Evening snack in Eurotraveller Cabin – cheese & ham and tuna & sweetcorn sandwich, Breakaway chocolate biscuit, gin & tonic (wish they would serve Beefeater) and two cups of coffee

8.10pm Touchdown at Terminal 3 (30 minutes early !)

8.20pm Bussed from stand to Terminal

8.30pm UK Border Control

8.46pm Board Heathrow Express at Heathrow Central

8.49pm Train departs for Paddington

9.01pm Train arrives at Paddington

9.04pm On District Line Platform

9.12pm Tube train arrives

9.17pm Arrive at Notting Hill Gate Station

9.21pm Arrive HOME !

PSAnd was it worth it ? It sure was. A pleasure to spend a few hours with people who are fun to be with and in a city which never looked better on a unseasonably very warm and sunny day.PS

Climbing aboard

I wonder if I am the only person who feels a little differently about an aeroplane journey when you disembark or embark using stairs rather than a jetway ?

For me it just helps bring home the amazing experience that is flight. You get to admire the sleek lines of the fuselage and look inside the turbo fans of the engine as you take each step up towards the door, ever higher until you catch the first glimpse of the flight attendant’s shoes at the top.

If the weather is a bit nippy, as it was tonight as I crossed the tarmac from the terminal at Edinburgh Airport (previously known as Turnhouse – I promise a posting soon on the bygone age of airport names !) towards the jetliner back to London, it just makes the adventure all the better ! Reinforcing the power of nature which the aeroplane will soon overcome.

Coming off the aeroplane is no less exciting. Rather than the stale smells of the terminal building hitting your nose when you arrive at your destination you get the full whack of the new environment you have come to explore.

For those of us, who all too often go airport – meeting room – resturant – hotel room – airport, we should grab these moments as agressively as we do the mobile stairway handrails.

Fast Track ? For snails……

Fast Track at LHR T5 this morning was anything but.   The line snaked way back beyond the screens and you could hear this low murmur of discontent and disbelief as new travellers joined the line.

It’s unacceptable and British Airways should be furious with the airport operators, BAA.   Remember that before we all turned up this morning they knew exactly how many passengers would avail themselves of Fast Track.   It’s not as if a bunch of us wakened this morning and thought “I’m going to fly somewhere just for the heck of it”*.   This is called yield management – why don’t they practice it ?

There are three ways forward:

(1) Eliminate Fast Track altogether and with it inflated claims of speed.   Expectations are lowered and they deliver the same service for everyone, all of the time.    I think this is called Communism.

(2) BAA become more adept at opening lines to meet demand.  Quick, nimble and thoughtful.

(3) British Airways fund and brand the Fast Track (clawing some money back from BAA as compensation) and create a memorable (in the right way) experience for their premium passengers.

 

*NB  I do however commend travel on a whim.  It reminds you just why travel is still an incredible experience.

The view from 35,000 feet

As my 737-800 jetliner tracked out of the airspace around New York and headed westwards towards SFO I thought about my friend P’s recent Facebook Status update where he contemplated a switch in preferred air carriers from Continental (which we both enjoy status on) to American which now offers inflight wifi.

Now I appreciate that I’ve advanced my views on this before but I want to justify my stance and prove I’m not just tilting at windmills.

Firstly, I love technologly and advances in communications. Companies such as Nokia and Research In Motion have done more to bring the world together than a thousand plenary sessions of the UN or EU.

But there is a time and a place for everything and each device has a power off button for a reason.

There is, of course, the initial novelty value and I am sure P surfed and emailed on his terms. But that will soon change. The ‘office’ will catch on that you are a captive target for email. (Oh and what happens when the guy next to you gets some bad news via email mid-flight ?).

A port engine, a range extender wing tip and snowy peaks from 1A.

A port engine, a range extender wing tip and snowy peaks from 1A.

The alternative is you could look out the window as the wingtips almost sliced through the contrail of a plane flying across our route.

You could have enjoyed the Veal Osso Buco as you contemplated just how you could rescue victory from the jaws of defeat with a current work project.

Then again you could read a thoughtful study of Bernard Arnault in the latest issue if WSJ. The new magazine from the Wall Street Journal which is proving to be a great read.

Or continue reading ‘Twitter Power’.

I did all of these things and more. (including consuming a large ice cream sundae which I only accepted out of politeness).

Perhaps some carriers will come off the fence and say ‘no’ to the option and make it a USP for their service !

Oh and the other thing I might just have time for…….? A nap, drifting off over the plains of the Midwest and contemplating that the view from 35,000 feet is a rather special one.

Back to school with Ecole 41

I’m sitting in the BA Exec Lounge at T5 relaxing after a morning spent impersonating a rabid meerkat in the office.

Anyway I spied a wine offering from Ecole 41, an amazing winery in the Walla Walla Valley in Washington State. It’s a 2006 Semillion, not my usual pick but it’s lush, tropical with an amazing mouthfeel.

I’ve got my great Seattle buddy E to thank for the Ecole 41 intro.

NB When flying into SEA they have a great wine shop Vino Volo. So you can land, buy and be met by your hosts fully loaded with bottles !

Airfares, airports.

I’m off to Amsterdam this morning and I’m writing this from London City Airport, London’s smallest commercial airport and situated to the east of the City of London. Designed primarily for business travellers it’s one of those rare things – an airport which is not a $75 cab ride away (remember Austin and Denver ?). The odd thing is the price of my ticket. If I had flown from Heathrow with the same carrier my ticket would have been over twice as much. This makes no sense. The more convenient, business focused departure airport should be more expensive that the larger hub based airport which has the economies of scale. I’m not complaining but you got to wonder who makes these decisions. Probably the same person who is in charge of snow clearing.

PS. 40 years ago today The Boeing 747 first flew from Boeing Field, Seattle. 1969 was a great year for flight, The 747, Concorde and of course Apollo 11 !