FLY – Enhanced Screening Method Introduced at Logan Airport

I find it odd that my last posting was about how to deal with the inconsistent issues around delays and cancelations at our airports.  Since that time (I’ve been on vacation) the newest of delays has come out from the TSA.  An enhanced screening method to slow us down at security.  This is from just a few days ago…

“The Transportation Security Administration plans to start testing an expanded behavior-detection security program today at Logan International Airport, the first airport in the nation to roll out the enhanced screening method. Under the program, TSA officers will speak with every passenger passing through the Terminal A security checkpoint, asking each two or three questions, such as “Where are you traveling today?” or “How long have you been in town?” Officials said the intent is to detect suspicious behavior – such as someone sweating profusely or avoiding eye contact – a process the TSA estimates will take about 20 seconds per passenger.” (Aug. 2, 2011 Boston Globe)

Wow, if you are one of those people that gets nervous because you are running late…you are screwed!  Avoiding eye contact??  Are you serious?  Yeah, I’m avoiding eye contact so I don’t accidentally punch you!  LOL  I’m kidding.  Remember, take it slow and easy…”it is out of our control.”

I do however really hope this fails miserably and is challenged by every single person.  I unfortunately travel through terminal A weekly.  Sometimes more than once a week.  I have not seen this yet, but will certainly comment once I do.  My concerns stem primarily from an additional delay to the security line.  First the shoes have to go, then the full body scanners, now questioning…what is next?

Thoughts?

Points – Promotion Notice for Marriott

Be sure to check out Marriott’s summer promotion.  Stay 20 nights through Sept. 1st and receive 35,000 points….stay 25 nights and receive an extra 15,000 points.  This is not the VISA promotion, just nights stayed.  Nights at any Marriott hotel count (Courtyard, Residence, etc).  Register today if you haven’t already on the promotions tab of Marriott.com when you log in.

FLY – Delays, cancelations, and dealing with it

 As a road warrior, one quickly discovers delays and cancelation are just a part of our routine.  When I first started flying weekly I used to get so upset and angry when my flight was delayed or even worst, canceled.  Over the years, you come to accept these are things beyond your control…but let’s face it, they still get under your skin once and a while.

Today’s delay was a bit unique.  Dealing with Atlanta airport is always a joy.  Considered the busiest airport in the US, be prepared for delays no matter what.  We boarded about 20 minutes late, which is typical really and never truly an issue.  What I did notice is that after the usual 30 minutes or so, I was still talking on the phone.  I had missed the announcement we were being delayed.  After boarding…is always a special treat.  Evidentially the sign on the outside of the plane that tells you where to put gas, had faded off.  I kid you not.  The decal had to be replaced before we could take off.  This took about 90 minutes.  The FAA was walking all around the plane during this time and pretty much everyone including staff thought this was just ridiculous.

I made the rather unwise choice to watch “Why Planes Crash” on msnbc the other night.  A truly upsetting decision that impacted my sleep two nights in a row.  I share this, because I truly believe maintenance delays are for our protection and safety.  Now more than ever, after watching that show.  Decals on the outside of the plane though…ok, that gets me a bit annoying. 

How we deal with these can really make or break your day.  Communication is my first choice.  I call home, work, client, and whoever else may be impacted.  I often post it on Facebook too…I have lots of friends that travel, so we like to talk about these delays and cancelations.  I think it is healthy to talk about it.  Heck, you could sit there and just stew over it.  I’ve seen people scream at the airline staff, turning red with smoke coming out of their ears.  Heck, several years ago I know I was guilty of that a time or two.  The nice thing, is they’ll always get you there…no matter what.  It might not be on your schedule, and it might not be today…but you’ll get there.  Go ahead, talk about it, think about it, and then … laugh about it.

Eat – Lenox Square Grill Atlanta, GA

If you are looking for comfort food, this is the place!  You wouldn’t guess what was on the menu just by looking at the rustic dining room or welcoming patio.  I assumed it was another Cheese Cake Factory or some other chain like most.  But to my surprise, this is where you come for ribs, corn bread, awesome pasta dishes, and other real comfort foods. 

We had a party of 8 tonight and were greeted promptly by the hostess who took us to a perfect table towards the back.  We were almost immediately greeted by our waitress who took drink orders and suggested the various mac and cheese dishes on the menu.  Yes, 6 different kinds of mac and cheese.  Cheeseburger, veggie, chicken, and others all stood out on the menu.  They offered several fried fish dishes, fried chicken, and fried this and fried that.  Lots of fried food in general.  Not my cup of tea, but we are in the south…I think.  Is it ok to consider Atlanta the south?  A different discussion for sure.

We ordered some appetizers to start.  Fried onions rings (shocker), fried chicken wings, and corn bread.  At least someone at the table was thinking outside the fried box.  I love corn bread!  This corn bread was served in the skillet in which it had been baked.  Excellent!  It just was missing the butter.  But I didn’t complain.

For dinner, I went with the healthy choice, cheeseburger mac and cheese.  Another dish served in the skillet that it was baked in.  It was so rich I maybe ate 1/6th of the serving.  Others had prime rib, fried mahi mahi, and lot’s of mac and cheese dishes.  I think we all rolled out of there.

Really reasonable prices ranging from $6 – $20 for entrees.  We left there with a bill around $150.  For 8 people and a few beers and cocktails, that is cheap!  A great deal. 

Perfect for large group gatherings.  Plenty of parking, as it resides on the outskirts of a mall.  I think the entire group of consultants would agree on my score….

Lenox Square Grill – A

Sleep – Marriott SpringHill Suites Atlanta Airport

You can’t get much more convenient then the Marriott SpringHill Suites at the Atlanta Convention Center Concourse.  Literally a 2 minute free train ride from the Atlanta airport.  With rates around $150 – $160 a night, it isn’t the cheapest of SpringHill Suites (usually around $90), but this is all location location location.

I checked in this evening as was recognized for my status and opted for the Marriott points as my welcome gift.  The lobby is simple with a Courtyard (the NEW Courtyards) feel.  A bar and lounge area with multiple TVs, flight monitors, and sofas wraps around the corner.  At night they pull a curtain over the breakfast area which is free and typical of what you see at any Residence Inn.

My room is impressive.  A true suite for sure.  I generous living room with a big sofa and large 36 inch flat HD TV.  The desk is built into the wall and acts as a divider to the bedroom with a sliding window.  Around the corner is a small bathroom with just a toilet and sink.  The next door is a very large walk in closet.  Finally the large bathroom has a walk-in shower and nice vanity area (no toilet).  I could see that being helpful if you were a family or traveling with someone else.  Bed is comfortable, as I’m writing this laying on it now.  The last nice touch is the built in bar area with sink, fridge, coffee maker, microwave, and utensils.

The hotel has a good sized gym, a small indoor pool, and several conference rooms.  There is a convenience store at the front desk.  You can print your tickets for free at a really convenient station right near for the front entrance (nice!)

I may be sold on SpringHill Suites!  My grade – B+

an’t get much more convenient then the

Eat – Review of The Tavern at Quarry Hills

Heading south from Boston, right up the hill off exit 8 on 93 south, is a view like you can’t believe of the city.  The old quarry has been drained and now several parks, the Granite Links Golf Club, and apartment complexes have taken over.  No membership required to go to the wonderful pub at the golf club.  They have a huge bar and a very large dining room. 

The menu varies from bar food like chicken wings and pizza to a huge selection of seafood and steaks.  The prices are resonable, $22 for Scallops, $25 for 2 filet medallions, $10 for Four cheese pizza.  We sat at the bar and found the service to be extrememly friendly.  The atmosphere certainly changes over the couple of hours from quite and relaxing to crazy busy and loud.  All the time the service continued to be wonderful.

I had the pizza.  An attempt at a thin crust (not so thin) brick oven dish served on a cutting board.  Great presentation and wonderful looking, served with a side of olive oil with red crushed pepper.  It was sort of bland honestly.  My partner enjoyed a Turkey Club sandwich that easily could have served two.  He liked the added touch of cucumber to the club and the sweet pototato fries.

After a few beers each and a great meal, we walked out full and spent less than $50 for two.  Can’t beat that.  Next time we’ll take a look at the more interesting selections like lamb tacos. 

The Tavern at Quarry Hills – B+

Eat – idine Cash back for eating!

I discovered idine while visiting one of my local pubs.  Evidentially various establishments have joined with idine to increase business.  All you need to do is register at www.idine.com and credit cards that you use when eating.  You’ll get a percentage of what you spend at participating restaurants at the end of each month.  In the last two months I’ve received $35 and $65.  These are in the form of an idine American Express gift card.  I would say I’m getting back almost 5% of what I spend.  idine tracks what you spend, where, and what you get back at the end of the month. 

Simply plug in the zip code of your hotel or area you wish to eat, and a listing of participating establishments comes up.  There are other programs out there with American Express…this is the best!