Posts tagged “travel

Einstein. Socks. Cab fares.

Yesterday coming home I was thinking about Einstein, socks, and cab fares.

Let me explain.

There are many things that baffle me.  Mens socks are one.  You never lose a pair of socks.  You always lose one sock.  Every six months I go to the closet and find a handful of socks none of which match.  Where did their pairs go?  So I go to the store and buy a dozen pair.  Slowly the phenomenon repeats itself.  Months later another drawerful of single socks each forlornly in search of its  match.  Back to the store.

Hold that.

einsteinSo yesterday I was on a day trip to New York.  I took the 8 am shuttle from DCA to LGA.  Caught the 7 pm back home.  Fare to the city:  $38.   Fare back from the city to the LaGuardia:  $30.

Then it struck me.  Why are cabs from the airport TO the city are ALWAYS more expensive than cabs FROM the city to the airport?  It was a phenomenon that has been bothering me for some time.  Just like socks.  I travel a lot.  Boston.  St. Louis.  Atlanta.  San Francisco.  Every time it is the same thing.  Cab fares from the airport to the city are X … cabs from downtown to the airport … less than X.

I’ve tried to identify all variables.  Time of day.  Tolls.  Traffic.  None seem to fully account for the difference.  After I net everything out it is always cheaper to go from the city to the airport than the other way around.

The only factor I can think of is that coming home always seems quicker to me than going away.  This is a phenomenon that is widely recognized.  There are all sorts of theories but as best I can tell they all boil down to how we perceive time.

Things seem longer when you are under stress (going away) and things seem shorter when you are in delight (coming home).

As Einstein once said:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

So I get how the cab ride can seem shorter or faster or easier going one way or the other.

I just can’t figure out the fare part of it all.

And the socks.

Why people love JetBlue

As folks who drink at the JuiceBar know, I write a lot about travel.

So here’s a travel story with a simple lesson.

It is amazing what happens when you are nice to people.  It is even more amazing when you go the extra mile and do something surprisingly pleasant.

imagesThe day started with a 4:30 am alarm from my BlackBerry.  I love my BlackBerry.  I hate my alarm.

I lay there thinking.  Can I stay in my bed?  Please?  God, it is early!  In my mind I sound like a 10-year-old.

By 5:15 I’m heading down the Dulles Toll Road ready to attack a day trip to Boston.  Leave at 6:30 am.  Grab a cab.  Make a 9 am meeting.  Break.  2 pm fly-by.  Head home on the 4:30 pm.  Able to make a meeting back in Northern Virginia at 7:30 pm.

The above is the reason I have not watched the movie Up in the Air.  The movie is way too close.

Slug through security.  People mover.  Gate B66.  And here is where things get interesting.

Flight delay.  Mechanical problems.

It is 6:15 and the agent is actually cheery.  Upbeat.  Moreover she’s open, honest and most of all accessible.  Next update at 7 pm.  Bing.  At 7 am she’s talking to me.  Next update at 7:30 am.  7:30 am comes and bing, she’s talking to me again.  Answering anybody’s questions.  More agents begin to cluster around the gate readying to move.  Decision made.  Next update will be at 8:30 and there’s a 9 am flight so let’s get everyone on to the 9 am flight.  Agents fan out.  There’s running through travelers like a California wildfire through Hollywood.  I timidly note to one agent that my meeting in Boston starts at 9 am.  So I don’t know if this whole flight is worth it.

He says to me, “Let me know what you decided and we’ll take care of you.”

Thirty minutes later, after a handful of emails and a couple of calls with my CEO, we pull the plug on the day trip.

I go back to a DIFFERENT agent and tell him my decision.  I’m so used to being abused, charged, and refused that I don’t even ask for a refund.

Turns out I didn’t have to.

“Oh, yes, Mr. Johnson.  My colleague mentioned that he talked to you.  Totally understand.  He already told me that we’re going to issue you a refund.  Should just take a minute.”

I love JetBlue — for today — because …

  • They were nice.
  • They were accessible.
  • They did something that they didn’t have to do.
  • In fact, they did something that others NEVER do.

I say that I love JetBlue today because I’m just as human (and fickle) as anyone else.  But if JetBlue continues to do this, they may be taking a lot of travel away from United.  At least from one traveler I know.

[ENDNOTE for anyone from JetBlue reading this.  It was the agents at Gate 66, flight 1250.  They were ALL great.  Please do something nice for them.]