28 September 2012
More travel plans ahead. I know I've groused about my frequent trips in the past, making cross country flights to the east/west coast, long lines, airport food, layovers, surly passengers, time changes, rough flights, living out of a suitcase, getting groped by the TSA, it all adds up to be a ginormous pain in the assets. But, between you and me, deep down, I kinda like the change of pace/scenery. This is not what I signed up for originally 11 years ago, but I inherited this role and the road trips are part of the job. It ain't easy, but I try to make the most out of it wherever I go. When traveling on company business, the company has certain rules and requirements to keep the costs down (translation: cheap). Travel at night, no direct flights, lowest cost carrier, subcompact car, no 5 star accommodations, no elaborate steak & lobster meals. I really don’t have a problem with these mandates. Whenever travelling on the company dime, I plan it like it was coming out of my own wallet. I don’t really go extravagant on the expenses – it’s not my style (coach flights, mid-range hotels, places that serve breakfast, no fancy dinners). My only real stipulation is direct flights. I have taken trips from here to Florida would normally be a 3 hour direct flight but my flight wound up going through Atlanta or Chicago and the trip turns into a 7 hour ordeal. Even with those challenges, I don’t have a real problem with going coach/economy. I learned from my travels with the Army, you get used to travel by covered wagon or dog sled. That’s why to this day I still have a soft spot for any active military people I encounter in the airports.
I have several road trips on the board between now and Christmas. Two or three supplier audits and a vacation. The vacation has been in the works for a while. This will be our first real off the grid vacation in almost 4 years. Our destination is under wraps at this time but I can honestly say that I have never been there before (aka bucket list). More hints later.
The next supplier trip is going to be the interesting one I've mentioned before. I am scheduled to fly to the Philippines next month for a couple of days. Now, I have flown several long distance, overseas flight to England, Belgium, and Germany. Those are normally 8-10 hour flights. Just picture spending an entire day at school or the office except you are strapped in a skinny airline seat aboard an overcrowded plan with nowhere to go. Now going the other direction is going to be a whole new experience. The SHORTEST flight I could find has two layovers/plane changes. We fly out of Houston and land in Hawaii 8 hours later. After a short layover, we load up on a 2nd plane and head to Guam for another 8 hours. Another layover and another plane change and we are off again to Manila for another 4 hours. By my estimate, we'll be in the air for over 20 hours. Essentially, from the time we lift off in Houston until the time I pick up my bags it will be roughly 23 hours. And that doesn't count the 2-3 hours I allow to get to the airport early to clear TSA and get checked in. Some people might look at the opportunity to go to Hawaii as a sweet deal and normally I would agree except that the time I get to spend on the island in the airport. Whoop-tee-doo. Ditto for Guam. We basically 1/2 way around the globe and 13 hours difference. I'm not sure if it it is now 6:00 pm this evening or 6:00 pm yesterday. We don't get much time in Manila to see anything. Two days of audits and then back on a plane headed home. The one silver lining is that the company policy is if you have to travel and the travel time is over 10 hours, you get to go business class. The nice part is that, for overseas flights business and first class are one in the same. That means we get to fly 1st class the entire way. Definitely a step up from my previous travels. I will take some pictures of how the other class travels. Return trip is pretty much the same deal in reverse although dealing with the international date line has got me all confused. We take off Thursday night at 2200 and land in Hawaii on Thursday morning??? At least we get some really nice seats and don’t have to pay for our meals or alcohol. My plan is to drink the plane dry.