Airlines take you sky high

Do your own research when travelling.

Those of you who do as much flying as I do you will be familiar with all the tricks the airlines use to get more money out of your pocket. 

Those of you who don’t believe that happens, search Google for information on a class action lawsuit launched against almost all major U.S. airlines for collusion, some of which have already settled for astronomical amounts of money.

That was simply for collusion, there is also price gouging which happens on a regular basis. 

I had to fly to New York this week for business and just before I left, I had a request for a meeting in Mexico City. Fair enough. We deemed it important enough to switch my schedule around. 

I had a return ticket to New York in the bag, so I did some research using some websites that are very helpful and one apparently top secret website.

What I discovered quite quickly was that if I booked a trip to Mexico City and then back to my home destination, it was a lot of money. More than I was prepared to pay.

Instead, I looked at a one-way fare for each leg and it was almost half of the originally quoted cost.

That is a small clue if you travel regularly. Yield management on airlines ensures that it is difficult to find where the savings might be hidden, so do your homework. 

After spending 30 minutes researching, I called my loyal flyers hotline with my airline and explained my situation.

I asked to book a leg to Mexico City and a separate leg back to Spokane. At first the client service rep had a hard time figuring out that I need to cancel my return leg from New York. She was trying to change it.

She came up with a price that was way above what I had seen, so I explained that it was more advantageous to me to cancel my flight home and re-book. 

She argued initially, but then agreed to cancel the leg. By now, we were 30 minutes in to the conversation already. Finally, she gave me a price for a trip from New York to Mexico City.

It was three times the price of my original round trip ticket to New York. I explained that I had three websites open and all were showing a value of about 20 per cent of her quote.

She grumbled and indicated that I must have access to a very special website. I indicated that it was simply Google flights showing me their airline pricing for a one-way ticket. 

In frustration, she recommended that I book the ticket that way, even though I have a very high status with the airline.

So I gave in and said check the Mexico to Spokane for me. She came back with a price for a one way ticket of $2,300. At this point I explained that I can fly first class to Europe for that price and did she not think that was a little strange.

She explained that it was all her system was showing her. How was I getting my pricing of $400?

She suggested I use my very special website, that must be top secret to get my pricing. I advised her that the top secret website was her airline website. 

Now, she had to save face, so said she was taking the issue higher to the overseas booking desk who could get us a better price with their very fancy top secret booking system. 

After another 30 minutes on hold, she came back and said they had confirmed that the best price ticket I could get from their airline would be $2,300. 

I thanked her for a her time and said I would book it. 

Ten minutes later, I had two one-way tickets booked for $500US total rather than $3,500 she would liked to have charged me. 

Exactly how many people on any given week are taken for a ride in more ways than one by the airlines in North America!


Take your dog for a walk

I moved to the Kootenays to enjoy the splendour of the mountains. 

Did I succeed?

Frankly, I have seen them more from the air travelling on business trips than I have living in Kaslo.

But my schedule is winding down and as difficult as it might seem to change a busy routine, the smallest changes can make a big difference. 

In the past, I have always rationalized that I am too busy to take my dog on a decent walk daily. But in reality, there are bad habits that I have on a daily basis that burn more time than walking the dog.

For example, if you spend an hour a day on social media (or any other bad habit), it adds up considerably over a 40-year career.

That would total 14,600 hours or the equivalent of 365 work weeks or in other words, 7.3 years of your working life productively working inside your Facebook profile.

For the past two weeks, I have been enjoying taking my dog for a walk three times a day and frankly if I can say that I walked for 7.3 years of my working life, I would not be embarrassed and probably a lot healthier. 

Thank goodness for dogs that need walking.

They are a great distraction and now I get to enjoy the mountains.

Computer-cars not smart

I am speaking again on a Future of Transportation Forum at the Toronto Global Economic forum, in December.

While my involvement will be from the flying car industry, the conversation with some of the audience always moves to driving autonomy.

I have not been an advocate for autonomous vehicles because of the overwhelming number of problems that there is no solution for. In fact, there is a litany of reasons that a computer cannot replace the human brain in driving situations in Canada.

When I last wrote about autonomous cars, I talked about the cold beads of sweat on the forehead of major car manufacturer engineers when they are asked whether the computer kills the dog or the child if they run out from each side of the road.

As is typical in the Castanet forums, I was criticized for being a fool who knows nothing about computing or autonomous vehicles.

Well. strangely enough, I wasn’t alone. The same problem I referenced is now being looked at by MIT.

This problem will not go away soon. As an example: If every computer is programmed to kill old people, I suspect we may have an ethics problem, and rather a large lobby. 

You see the real issue is that you cannot teach a computer to think. I can already see the comments in the comment section. Do I not realize that AI already exists?

Not exactly. We are getting better at programming.

This scenario is just one example of a car computer not dealing well with having to think, so we have to program it. 

Take another example. You are driving over a mountain pass and it is a cold, clear, frosty morning. But you know you are driving past a lake and the dew point was such the previous evening that there would have been fog from the lake.

That means black ice over the crest of the hill. The autonomous vehicle would come over the crest, realize too late that there is no traction and frankly struggle to do anything at all.

With our local knowledge and intuition, we can avoid an accident.

Let’s not even bother talking about white-out conditions with a white sky, white road and white fog… it won’t work. 

So for now, sign up for the surveys, keep reading the techie magazines, but if you believe that autonomous vehicles are safe, insurable and practical, think again.

At least for quite a few more years. 

Trump incites violence

Despite a series of terrorist acts in the U.S, aimed at Trump critics, President Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge that the tone of his rhetoric is dividing his country and is a catalyst for such acts. 

Whether it is acknowledging and congratulating a candidate for body slamming a reporter, suggesting that attendees at a rally “rough up” protestors or letting rally attendees whip up in to a frenzy with chants like “lock her up,” he is the leader of a culture and attitude in America that is unhealthy and above all divisive. 

Good leaders will take responsibility for actions that are negative and credit their team for actions that are positive. Trump, in his term of office, is demonstrating the opposite behaviour. 

Sadly, the end result is proving to be, and is likely going to continue to be, violence and potentially on a much more damaging scale if the president does not work to unite the country he leads. So far that has proven to not be the case. 

Time will tell, with mid-terms right around the corner, if Trump will continue to maintain the power base he has today.

Sadly, Oct. 24, 2018 — when pipe bombs were sent to Trump's enemies, including former president Barack Obama — is not a calendar date that will be remembered positively by the many people around the world.

More It's All About . . . articles

About the Author

Mark has been an entrepreneur for over forty years. His experience spans many commercial sectors and aspects of business. He was one of the youngest people to be appointed as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Sales and Marketing Management before he left the UK in 1988.

His column focuses on ways we can improve on success in our lives. Whether it is business, relationships, or health, Mark has a well-rounded perspective on how to stay focused for growth and development.

His influences come from the various travels he undertakes as an adventurer, philanthropist and keynote speaker. More information can be found on Mark at his website www.markjenningsbates.com

He is a Venture Partner with www.DutchOracle.com a global Alternative Investment company.

Mark Jennings-Bates:
[email protected]

Photo credit: www.SteveAustin.ca 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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