Last month, I visited France and the UK. There are times when I wanted to get online. Wi-Fi networks were marked as free. Here’s what greeted you when you chose free wifi.
Or this one.
Sure, that’s a quick one to fill out. Put in some fake info, they don’t confirm it, and you’re online.
How about this one? It was so big I needed multiple screen shots to capture it (on a phablet).
Companies Need To Learn This Doesn’t Work
If I can fill this out with totally fake information and you don’t confirm the info or my email, then what do you really have? A database full of “leads” with fake information? That got you nothing.
Creating obstacles to something isn’t a good user experience. Calling Wi-Fi free but then trying to get people to OK being mailed and called doesn’t feel free. If you’re not making me pay or sign up for an account, then just let me online without the questionnaire.
Yesterday, I ranted about hoops I had to jump through in the Dallas airport to get WiFi.
In my home airport, SFO (San Francisco), you have to “watch” a video ad to get free WiFi for 45 minutes. I say “watch” in air quotes because I run the ad and look away from my device. And 30 seconds later, I have free WiFi.
2 trips ago, the ads were for the new ABC show, Agents of SHIELD. OK, why not.
I was surprised that the last time I went through the airport, the ads were for Al Jazeera TV. They portray people just like you and me who demand more from their news. And who will give them more? Al Jazeera. Click to enlarge.
In reality, I don’t know poop about Al Jazeera. I hear it’s a good news service. I just turned it on to give it a chance, and it was the most in depth coverage you could imagine about a bombing I didn’t know that happened in another country. I turned it off immediately and put How It’s Made back on.
I watch the news very rarely. Why. Because “the news” is nothing but a never-ending list of shitty things that happen to people. I don’t need to wake up or go to sleep to an incomplete list of the murders, fires, rapes, child molestations, and other awful things happening in my area. And when they can’t find enough awful things nearby, they’ll tell you about rapes, murders, fires, and other crap in other areas. I don’t need MORE details on a bombing. I’m really OK with the 10,000 foot view headline on that one.
Where’s the good news?
If a news station wants my business, they can all stop promising to be fair, balanced, impartial, etc… If you want me to watch your news channel, give me good news. Give me things that feel good. Give me tips I can really use. Give me the truth about what’s in the food we eat.
I already know where to get the rest of the news. I can watch NBC or BBC or Al Jazeera. Who is going to give me information that is timely and truly useful? At the end of a news broadcast, I haven’t heard anything useful. I’ve only heard deeply and distractingly sad things.
Airport WiFi. Why does it have to suck so much? Why do I have to agree to so many things and watch a video before I can get it?
This one was special. This was the Dallas airport, also knows as DFW. I was actually connected (which you’ll see as tiny orange text in the bottom left). But if you DON’T read carefully, you’ll think you need to fill this out to get on the WiFi.
Who the HECK would want to knowingly opt in to receive emails with the “latest and greatest” about the DFW airport? Who came up with this???
I’m in the airport in Lincoln, Nebraska. Biz trip.
Log into the airport Wi-Fi and get this page! Click to enlarge.
But wait, it gets better! I clicked on the right side link to “all search sites.” You are not prepared for this. Swallow your coffee. Click to enlarge.
But wait, it gets even better! This is the bottom of the page! Click to enlarge.
Don’t you love our new search page!! Didn’t it help you find things?
Because nothing helps you find things like 500 links to other sites. The coworker I’m with said I just did internet archaeology. It hurts!
I’ve had a few friends Facebooking wildly while stuck in multi-hour delays on planes sitting at the gate. I guess it’s time once again for Deb’s Travel Tips: Airports and Flying Edition!
It’s important to stay hydrated when flying. Security has you thinking you can’t bring beverages, and bottled water once you get past security is more expensive than a night out in NYC.
You CAN bring empty bottles/water containers through. TSA doesn’t have a problem with containers. They have a problem with liquids. So I bring a one-litre platypus (reusable bottle) or sometimes my one-gallon Camelbak hydration bladder thing. I fill it up from a water fountain (free and usually good-tasting) once I’m past security.
Make sure you have at least 2 nutrition bars in your bag. These could be granola bars. I wouldn’t do more than 1 candy bar unless it’s Snickers. Candy is just not filling. I bring Luna bars or the new Zone Simple bars that are gluten free. At least two bars per person. They weigh just about nothing. Bring them. Sometimes I end up eating mine on the car rental lines. 🙁
Bring A Meal or Have JUST Eaten a Meal
Don’t board hungry assuming you’ll be there in 90 minutes. Anything can happen. Either have just eaten a good meal or bring one. I normally bring one. Both directions.
When flying from home, I normally get some good takeout (like beef and broccoli) and put it in my special reusable Rubbermaid thing that flattens when you’re done. Don’t go running to the store. They don’t make them anymore.
Beef and broccoli is a good choice since without dairy and with everything well cooked, it’ll stay good for a long time.
Sandwiches seem like they’re easy to take and store, but they have some strikes against them.
- Sometimes they have dairy on them, and that can start to go bleh or soggy. Mayo’s not dairy, but have you ever seen mayo after a few hours? Bleh.
- Lunch meat is typically salty and full of chemicals. That’s not good for you any day.
- Bread will typically mess with your blood sugar and make you feel hungry again sooner. It’s a real pile of empty calories.
- Unless you got your sandwich at a Jewish-style deli, chances are it had 3 pieces of meat. See above about bread, and this thing is just not going to be that filling that long.
On your way back, find decent food (even if you have to Yelp for it or drive the rental car a bit out of the way on the way to the airport). It’s worth it. In Anaheim, I Yelp’ed a great local taqueria that got great ratings. I brought the spicy sauce home for my boyfriend. He said it was the best he ever had. Guess where I’ll be stopping on my way back from my next Anaheim trip.
I was recently in Vegas. I went to Beijing 9 Noodle Company (or whatever it’s called) in Caesars. Got a sirloin beef and string bean to go, no rice. Wasn’t cheap. But man it was one of the best Chinese dishes I’ve ever had. Great quality. Ate it in the airport while waiting to board my delayed flight.
All better choices than the fast food and crap in the airport. Period.
Bring a Battery Pack
I have two 20,000 mAh battery packs that are rechargeable. That’s about 10 cell phone batteries for those keeping score. One of them can power a laptop or a USB device. The other can power 2 USB devices at the same time. You don’t want to run out of battery, especially if you’re sitting for hours on a plane before it even goes anywhere. Stay charged up with battery packs!
I get them on eBay from China. They’re like $25. They’re a little bigger than a deck of playing cards and not too heavy at all. Can’t go wrong having that for your many devices. The one that can power a laptop is the size of a small hardcover book and weighs one pound. It’s a bit more to carry but not by that much.
And those are some of my travel tips! Good luck!
I was flying recently, and I remembered how you always used to get asked if you packed your own bags. And then they stopped asking that. I’m guessing that didn’t work. But I want to know who THOUGHT it would work.
Who thought that we could ask people if they packed their own bags and then catch terrorists by detaining the ones who said, “Nope, someone else was sticking stuff in my bags, and I have no idea what it is.”
Once upon a time, the TSA COULD have stopped me and didn’t. I was going through security. Even though it was a domestic flight (New York back to my beloved Arizona), the guy checking driver’s licenses asked me if I had anything to declare. I did. I confidently told him I “fucking HATED New York.” And I quote. And I do. I grew up there, and just didn’t like it. You’re welcome to like New York.
Now, given how tippy toes everybody is about airport security, they could have said that was some sort of threat I was making, and detained me. And he didn’t.
And how much C4 can fit in a shoe anyway?
Ugh, I hate security theatre. Let’s just take a page from El Al here, and improve our system.
I was recently in PHX around Xmas 2012, and while having a snack near the restaurants and shops in Terminal 4, I noticed this sign. Click to enlarge:
I didn’t try it as I was already eating, boarding soon, and unlikely to be hungry again. But it seemed like an interesting idea and way to bring more revenue to the restaurants outside the security area in the terminal.
I wondered (but don’t know the answers to):
- What’s the delivery fee? Is the food the same price/ Sometimes, places claim no delivery fee, but then their online/app menu has slightly higher prices.
- How long does it take them to get to me? My plane will not wait for my hamburger, so timing is important. I wonder if it asks your flight, and then stops you from ordering if you don’t have time for prep and delivery.
- Is there a special security line for the restaurant workers making the delivery? Or do they spirit it to some other part of the gate so that the worker doesn’t go through security? Just wondering if my deliver is slowed down by TSA.
Seems like a good idea. Will have to try it some time just to have tried it.
I typically have my Sprint Overdrive (personal WiFi hotspot) on me, and I use it at SFO. San Francisco International Airport claims to offer free WiFi, so why use my MyFi? Normally, once you log into “free” WiFi, you are asked to agree to terms of service, and then you move right along. Here is the page I was shown when I went to start using that WiFi (click to enlarge).
What are my choices on this page? Evidently, take a survey (and possibly win a gift card!!!!!!), or… nothing. If I did take the survey, I then get 45 minutes of WiFi before I’m kicked off. Thanks but no thanks.
Really? In the tech centre of the world, we can’t just welcome people to our airport, and GIVE them WiFi like just about every other airport? We have to make them sit, roll over, and do some tricks first?