Attention ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for choosing Creative Cow Airlines. We have a few important safety reminders for you. Please stow your belongings in the overhead compartments and keep the aisles clear. Please observe the lighted signs and placards to the left and right of this blog...
Last week I had to go to New Orleans for some pickup interviews and b-roll. I booked a reasonably priced ticket to fly out on Sunday, got to the airport early, paid my $140 for luggage. Let me stop there. In an effort to keep ticket prices down, US Air now charges $15 for the first bag checked, and it goes up from there. Excess baggage fees have always been a staple of travel. Back in the 90's when I was flying with my herniacam and sciaticapod, 3 to 5 checked bags was the norm. These days with DV and HDV cameras, we check a golf club case (tripod, cables etc) and in this case a light kit and small luggage cart. I stuffed my change of clothes and toothbruch in the tripod tube. But $15 for the first bag? This will only dissuade people from flying.
Next to security. Place laptop and DV camera in a bin, place shoes on belt, place belt in shoe, place laptop bag on belt, place camera bag on belt, walk through magnet, wait for items from belt, carry all to seating area, get recombobulated. No worries. I had to chuckle that the old lady in a wheelchair was made to take off her shoes and walk under her own power through the magnet. I feel safer already!
Next to board the plane. You would think 50% of the passengers had never been on a plane before. Certainly there are some first time flyers, but the guy who took my camera bag from its spot in the compartment over my seat and shoved it forcibly into a smaller spot elsewhere so he could shove his own bag into my original spot had clearly done this before. In a highway driving situation, this is like cutting someone off or passing on the right. Oh bother.
Next comes the drinks. Coffee is now $1, soda is $2. Still cheaper than the prices in the terminal, and possibly incredibly profitable for the airline. I got the coffee, and was actually offered a refill for free.
My connection was in Charlotte, America's Front Porch. I don't know if that is the actual slogan, but this airport has weary travelers in mind with its free wi-fi and abundance of rocking chairs. I had a 2.5 hour layover, so this was a nice benefit.
As you can see, I used my time wisely:
Arrival in NOLA was uneventful, albeit muggy. Rental car pickup no problems and the ride to the dreaded French Quarter an easy drive. I say dreaded not to be mean, just because first impressions go a long way. Even before Katrina, the approach into downtown New Orleans has been a bit rough. These days with the abundance of boarded-up buildings and dilapidation, Canal Street has looked better.
That night I ventured up Bourbon Street, and remembered why I hate Bourbon Street.
Good dinner at the Redfish Grill then back to the suite. Next morning after a $27 room service breakfast I tried to follow the directions to the hospital, but got a tad lost. I did get to see some of the Garden District, including some nice homes, some smaller homes and a few piles of debris that were once homes.
The shoot itself went as planned, although it was Monday morning in a busy medical office, so there was a fair amount of waiting. I simply setup in a doctor's office and waited for him or her to become available.
After a full day at the hospital, and some giggles with the residents, we headed to the Park across from Tulane to get some shots of the doctors hanging out with their kids.
Next back to the hotel, dinner at Bayonna - an excellent restaurant away from the madness, and then back to the hotel once more. This was something called hanger steak - I'll have to look that up. It was goood.
Tuesday AM I got to the airport, got on an earlier flight for only $50 (the US Air telephone system wanted to charge $150 plus an unknown fare difference). A visit to Starbucks for an overpriced coffee I can make at home for 30 cents and back home in CT by 6:30pm.
The drive back through Hartford reaches its apex with the view of a skyline I have called home (not really home per se, but more figurative as representing my home region) since 1990.
Impressive, isn't it!
Overall, no hassles and some good food along the way is always a plus. Indeed, regardless of the destination, and with appropriate expectations, business travel can be the big easy.
Thanks for reading, and happy flying, wherever your final destination may be.