Last week I was at the 2012 PASS Summit in Seattle WA. It was everything that others told me it would be. I enjoyed every minute of it. Of course, the best part for me was the opportunity to give one of the sessions. Even though it was the last session on the last day of the conference, it was still very well attended, and I was relieved that at least some people stayed around until the end to hear my talk. I met lots of interesting people from around the world and hopefully, some of them will be joining me in my blogs or on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelpantonovich) over the next several weeks to see what else I have to say about DAX, PowerPivot, and the Tabular Model. The bottom line is that I recommend any serious professional try to attend a major conference in his or her field of work at least once a year. The networking and learning opportunities are well worth it.
Let’s talk about the flight now. I’m not a fan of sitting in a long metal cylinder (soon to become carbon composites apparently according to the one ad on the flight), crushed between strangers sitting in a seat designed for 8-year olds. I mean really, did they ever test these seats with people taller than 5’6”? At 6’3” my knees are wedged into the back of the seat in front of me. Then the lady (and I use that term loosely) in front of me kept trying to push her seat back against my knees attempting to push my femur right through my pelvis and into the back of my seat, it was a painful five hours getting from Chicago to Seattle. After getting there I almost could not walk and my legs nearly collapsed under me twice just trying to get out of the plane.
And whatever happened to food on cross-country flights? I probably will date myself, but I remember the days when you got a hot meal with real metal utensils. Now they cannot even afford to give you a bag of pretzels. Well actually, Jet Blue still does. By the way, to the person eating burritos and beans somewhere around me, take note for the next time that menu item is not a good choice for a sealed in environment.
My flight did not even have ‘free’ TV. Not even network channels. On the flights west, they had little 5 in screens (or at least that is the size they seemed to be) that folded down from the luggage rack that displayed DirectTV in color. By color, I mean that each screen going up through the plane was a different hue. And they were not even in front of each row of seats. The one in front of me was about 4 rows up. I would have needed a telescope to watch anything. Coming back, the plane had 3” TV screens in the back of the seat in front of each person. But again, they wanted $7.99 just to watch a few shows on DirectTV. This was a red-eye flight back leaving Seattle at 10:50 PM so I don’t think they made much money on that flight. Oh, by the way, Jet Blue still lets you watch basic programming for free.
And each flight I was on seemed to be overbooked. Are there really that many people travelling or have they cut back on the number of flights? I mean no wonder the airlines are losing money when they offer a bonus of $500.00 for a person to wait for a later flight (about 4 hours later) and get a free upgrade to first class on that later flight.
I guess it could have been worse. I hear that Spirit charges up to $100 each way for each luggage bag. When it costs more to send your luggage than yourself, how long will it be until people try to wear 10 changes of clothes on top of each other to avoid the luggage fees and then try to pull those seat belts around their 15 pairs of pants and actually snap the two ends together.
At one time, flying was elegant. But no longer. Now between the lines at TSA, boarding lines, and overbooked flights, it feels to me more like cattle on the way to slaughter or maybe waiting in a line for a 3-minute ride at one of our local theme parks.
Finally, I find it amusing when the crew says on your way off the plane. “Thank you for flying with us and we hope to see you again.” In the meantime, I am sure that we are all thinking, “Thank God I’m getting out of this box and can breathe real air again that won’t pop my eardrums.
Fortunately, next year the summit is in Charlotte, North Carolina. If I get the opportunity to go (and I hope I do) It would be a bit of a long road trip, but I’m thinking maybe it would be better to just drive.
C’ya all next time.