The Modern Traveler

subtitle: I Just Flew In From Denver And Boy Is My Ass Tired

It’s been a little while since I traveled by air on a business trip and I noticed some significant changes:

TSA Pre√ -“TSA Pre✓™ allows low-risk travelers to experience faster, more efficient screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints for domestic and international travel.”

TSA Pre✓™ Experience:

  • Quicker transit through airport lanes
  • Shorter lines
  • Shorter wait times
  • Improved customer experience
No Removal of:

  • Belt
  • Shoes
  • Light outerwear/jacket
  • 3-1-1 compliant bag and laptop from carry-on

Plus there are designated lanes! No more getting stuck behind a family traveling with toddlers – meaning seats, strollers, bags, snacks to be rummaged through, little shoes to be removed and put on again and little lost socks. It’s about damn time. While the federal government might consider every traveler an equal security risk, apparently the TSA does not. There’s an application fee and process but this designation was just plopped onto my boarding pass.

I hope this trend continues and that they once again allow full size cans of hairspray in carry-ons.

NOTE: Although this is a generally positive piece about the TSA, I still do not forgive them for stealing my hand-tooled leather cosmetics case. Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before?  I had dinner with a brand new group of people this week and I told them the whole story. I could not get them riled up about it, but I will never forget nor forgive.

New uniforms for United crews  The link has an article that says the fashion world reaction to the new designs are “meh” but I think that’s an understatement.  Here’s a picture but you could just as easily look in the dictionary for the definition of frumpy:

United debuted its new fleet-wide uniforms this week, designed based on employee feedback to be solid work-wear, but they drew poor marks from fashion critics.

United debuted its new fleet-wide uniforms this week, designed based on employee feedback to be solid work-wear, but they drew poor marks from fashion critics.

My flight from Newark to Denver had about 15 United employees on it so I got to observe not just the stews but a good cross section of pilots as well.

  • The counter people are almost invisible in their extreme blahness
  • The in-flight crew dresses are a weird combination of shaped and baggy
  • Male stews are still dressed like pretend pilots
  • Actual pilot’s uniforms have not yet been updated
  • Lady pilots wear man pilot uniforms, although they might be cut differently. Lady pilots over compensate by wearing a lot of jewelry,  unless they all need those multiple rings for their second jobs as  fortune tellers.

Still unaddressed is the serious issue about hairdos. It’s like the ladies go out of their way to look unkempt. If we’re talking about a uniform look, then I think there needs to be some kind of mandate about an approved, uniform hairstyle. Something like the Rockettes or the women in the Robert Palmer Addicted To Love video.

Here’s a United  fashion show displaying all variations of the new uniforms:

Is anyone else reminded of the video below?

Luxury Taxi Service in Denver  The ground transportation business in Denver is highly competitive and you can have an unmarked town car, limo or luxury vehicle for the same cost or less as a conventional yellow cab. And you get the royal treatment by the drivers, too. Going into Lodo, I rode in a Cadillac Escalade and going out I had a Jaguar.

At the end of each trip, the driver hands you a business card and says they would like to serve you again and please call them the next time you come back to Denver. In both of my rides mentioned above, the cards revealed that the owners of the business were the drivers operating the vehicles and interacting with the customers.  That is entrepreneurism in its purest form. America!

Of course, it is still Denver where an enormous bicycle culture thrives and so there are a large number of human-powered pedicabs. The humans in this case are either underemployed hipsters or of the tattooed, nose ringed, white-people-with-dreadlocks variety and it is unclear to me if they can take you anywhere except a marijuana store or a brand new building designed to look like a repurposed factory.

Luggage The more you travel, the lighter you pack. I managed to do a 4-day trip with only a rolling business bag and a moderately large Urban Expressions handbag. Packing is one of my talents.

Fullscreen capture 1112014 112754 AM

I took a cream-colored handbag because I packed at the last minute and couldn’t find my large black Ameribag.

This computer bag  was a Christmas present from Sami and matches 2 suitcases he had given me for a previous occasion and it cost no small amount of money. Even though it has a 4 1/2 star rating on Amazon, it is quite crappy and I’m going to return it.

It did get me there and back without incident but I was not at all sure that would be the outcome. The fabric is puckered, the zippers looked like they were not going to be able to survive my packing challenge and the handle was a nightmare. When extended, it had a high degree of wobbliness. I dare it it should be described as “twisting” and collapsing it was difficult at best. In fact, when I got home, the handle would not collapse at all and Sami had to insert something to release the pins on each segment by poking them with the tapered end of a chopstick.

Here’s one for sale on eBay. I know exactly how this happened.

Fullscreen capture 1112014 114051 AM

So now I’m back in the market for another rolling case and I’m considering a Baggallini. Any Baggallini product I have still looks like the day I bought it and I’ve never had any quality issues with them. Does anyone have any experience with these rolling cases – either the original or the newer design? If yes, I would appreciate hearing from you about it.


6 thoughts on “The Modern Traveler

  1. Yes! I have had a Travel Pro rolling case like you describe for about 8 years. It’s held up well and no problem with the handle at all. My husband gave me a Briggs & Riley “4-wheeler” rollaboard for Christmas and it’s a dream come true. He has one of their rolling business cases and loves it. When we travel together, his business case will hold both of our laptops and accessories. I’m a travel writer and my luggage has to perform well. After much trial-and-error over the past 20 years, I will only buy Travel Pro (Crew series) or Briggs & Riley luggage.

  2. OK, so you’ve been to Denver at the apex of the slippery slope to Reefer Madness. Is everything now “no problem, mon”?

    • There are still some traditional cultural artifacts left. For instance, I had to wake up a teenaged Latin King to shove over on the tram so I could sit down. He was clutching a can of beer in a brown bag.

  3. The unis have all the variation you’d see riding a commuter train.

    Again, I’d like to extend my sympathies as you once again had to visit America’s ugliest, dustiest, and bleakest city.

  4. Every limo driver I have ever traveled with has asked me to *please* use him the next time I’m in town. Since I rarely visit the same place twice it is moot, but I always applaud their zeal.

    Last time I took a limo we had to travel from Palm Coast to Jacksonville after the hotel valet lost the keys to our rental car: a 90-minute trip with only 75 minutes to TSA check-in.

    The driver not only got us to the airport on time after the time-consuming snafu, but he managed a non-stop line of chat while calmly and smoothly breaking numerous traffic laws.

    AND, he gave me a personalized pen with an LED light in it. That, my dear, is service.

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