OK, I know everyone likes London. But there’s a disturbing trend at some of London’s most desirable restaurants: A policy of asking diners to vacate their tables after 90 minutes. I don’t know who decreed an hour and a half is the ideal time for a dinner at a restaurant, but I dislike dining when someone is running a clock on me.
I pushed back a few weeks ago when a London restaurant that should know better called me a few days after I’d made a reservation. I was asked to make sure I’d paid my bill and vacated my table by 90 minutes. I said that was unacceptable, and it took a manager’s intercession to receive special dispensation.
Maybe you’ve been hustled away from a table at a crowded restaurant in the US. There’s only one decent way for a restaurant to do that. The manager should offer to take a diner’s dessert off the bill or to buy your table an after-dinner drink at the bar. Otherwise, I think it’s bad form to hurry people along, especially if they’re paying $100 or more a head for dinner.
Take a page from the French who expect customers to make a relaxed evening of dinner.
Recently the talented singer showed up at the Los Angeles airport 45 minutes before a flight to China on United Airlines. Guess what? He was told he was too late, and United wouldn’t check him or his luggage in.
Will.i.am was not happy about this and sent this Twitter message to his 12.5 million followers;
“Plane leave at 1:15 I got to airport at 12:30 @United is the worse. I should have learned from the last @United experience.”
That last experience was reportedly his getting booted out of a United airport club for using a fake membership card, though I can’t confirm that happened. In another Tweet, Will.i.am said other airlines make exceptions for premium passengers—those flying first class. Some do, but not most, and you shouldn’t count on it even if you’re a star recording artist flying first class.
Get to the check-in desk an hour before domestic flights, two hours before international flights. Take it from me. And Will.i.am.
Give me a break—enough whining, already!
It’s usually folks who don’t fly much or haven’t flown in several years who see news stories about anomalies like a 15-minute wait to clear an airport security line, something that’s quite rare these days. Or folks who believe coach sections on planes are a close relation to torture chambers.
Which I think is ridiculous. Yes, coach seating can be tight, especially if you’re over six-feet tall or severely overweight. But look at it this way: You’re getting from here to there at 400 miles per hour. Dinner in New York, breakfast in Paris.
My friend Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot, says he gets a kick out of folks who whine when they lose their Internet connection sometimes when he flies over the Rockies. I call those rich-people problems. You want tough travel? How about taking months to cross the country in a covered wagon? Now that’s travel worth complaining about–no cocktails available on that flight.
The Hancock Center towers 1,000 feet over Chicago’s showplace avenue, the Magnificent Mile, downtown as well as above Lake Michigan. From this Thursday through Sunday, you and the family can go up top and get in the TILT, a steel-framed box that gradually tilts eight people at a time to a 30-degree angle away from the building, over the ground.
Arrive in costume and your tilt for free. There’s also a trick-or-treat candy station for kids from 4 pm to close, and there’s Spiked Orange Bubble Tea for guests 21 or older. I’d suggest you consume that after you do the tilt thing.
The John Hancock Observatory is now called 360 Chicago, and the glass-walled TILT–31,000-pounds of steel–will give any jaded Halloween aficionado a thrill. You’ll rotate about 30 degrees as much as 50 inches away from the building’s façade. Now, that’s scary.
Groups need advance reservations and the place opens at 9 am, last entry is at 10:30 pm. But I’m betting you’ll want to go there at night.
Despite what stand-up comedians say, not all airline employees are cranky. There are tens of thousands of men and women who serve the public with skill, diplomacy, and sometimes downright compassion. So how do we, as passengers, let them know we appreciate them? And how can we let their employers know we’d like more people like them?
Every year, American Airlines sends me a half-dozen pre-printed slips that I can fill out and hand to AA employees who provide service above and beyond the call of duty. The employee can give those to the company who at least make note of such praise in their personnel files. I carry those cards with me when I fly American.
In United’s case, there’s a form on that airline’s web site that lets you send in a complaint or a compliment.
But a more effective move, I think, is writing a letter to an airline’s CEO. Explain why someone delivered above-and-beyond service as briefly as possible. In a world where things go wrong, where passengers sometimes look for things to go wrong, it’s nice to praise the person who cares. In the long run it could make the experience of traveling better not only for you, but for all of us.