February 2011


(Reporting from Florida)

For both business and pleasure, Trisha and I are in Florida and feeling a bit guilty. Why? Well, it’s 78 degrees, clear and sunny. Last night a full moon rose out of the ocean and was spectacular. Knowing much of the country is experiencing very unpleasant weather made us realize how fortunate we are to be here.

This blog is very personal. Our son David is a commercial pilot and recently began flying with a new airline, Virgin America. Interestingly, he could not wait for Trisha and I to fly with his new company. I admit I wasn’t sure why he was so anxious for us to take a VA flight. Well, now I know. It’s a completely different flight experience. Like most people, I was resigned to the often unpleasant routine of flying. I should say at this point, this is not a commercial and I don’t receive any money for an endorsement. The fact is, this is the most pleasant flight experience we’ve ever had.

Let me explain. Checking in, there were actually a number of people directing people toward the correct counters. At the counter the people were actually smiling and quite friendly. Once at our gate, the gate agents noticed my mother, who was traveling with us, was in a wheel chair and without asking sprang into action to make sure she was boarded and her wheel chair was properly labeled. Additionally, when the flight crew arrived, the gate agents and crew exchanged “hugs” with one another. At this point, one of the gate agents took to the microphone and gave a rousing introduction of the captain who smiled and waved as we all applauded. 

Once on board, the style and beauty of the new AirBus was exceptional. We had never seen such modern seats and there was soft purple indirect lighting. David later told me this changes in intensity according to the light entering the aircraft. Each seat had its own television screen, satellite channels, on demand TV and movies, and  power ports for your computer with available wireless service. That’s not all. No more carts blocking the aisle or waiting for a drink if you’re in the back of the plane. Everything is computerized. If you want water or a soft drink, just bring up the options, touch the screen and an attendant practically runs down the aisle with your drink. If you want to purchase snacks or other food items, touch the screen and they arrive almost instantly. Believe it or not, the food was really tasty.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. This is an airline dedicated to the passenger. I’m thinking of a line from an old Carly Simon song, “Nobody does it better, makes me feel sorry for the rest.” While they have only been in business for three years, they have won awards all three years and are opening new destinations as they grow. Recently, they added the resort destinations of Cabo and Cancun.

Overall, the thing that most impressed me was the obvious positive employee culture at Virgin. I have discovered through our son’s experience they very carefully screen their employees and only hire the cream of the crop. From the ticket agents and gate personnel to the flight crews, they actually seemed to be enjoying their jobs. When I reported this to our son, he laughed and told me that on his flight to Cabo that day, the gate agents had come on board with a bowl of guacamole and chips for the crew’s return trip. Wow.

O.K., that’s it. My travel tip of the day, if you have a chance to fly Virgin America, do it. If you see him, say hi to David. He’s the one with guacamole on his shirt.

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Yes, another Valentine’s Day is upon us. I’m not sure it’s necessary to buy something for those you love, but you should sure let them know. As a matter of fact, let them know every day.

Some Inspiration

I want to share something inspirational with you. Last Fall, my wife Trisha and I had the great pleasure of traveling half way around the world. We did so with Trisha’s aunt Pat and her uncle Noel. He turned 89 on the first week of our month-long trip, and Pat had recently had another hip-replacement surgery. When we arrived in China, they took off on their own for the last leg of the trip. Pat and Noel are a great inspiration for us because of the way they live their lives and age is just a number.

Last week I spoke to Pat on the phone and she regaled me with the story of her recent zip-lining adventure in Costa Rica. One of the zip-lines in the series was over 1/2 mile long. It sounded so great, I’m in the process of looking for a zip-line location on our next travel adventure.

The point is, here are two people in their eighties with a focus on the future. I know people much younger who don’t have such a forward thinking attitude. I should add, Trisha’s aunt and uncle have the same attitude about life whether it’s at home or on a vacation. It’s not a money issue, its an issue of attitude. We can all learn a lot from them. 

Yummy

If you have not been to Trisha’s blog, Trisha’s Dishes, this time is a must.

Valentine Confections « Trisha’s Dishes

By the way, Trisha is my Valentine and the love of my life.