As you might have gotten an idea from yesterday, I am indeed going to France in the middle of November. This seems to be about par for the course on my French trips, last year I was in France about this same time. My job requires me to periodically travel to France where the experiment we are working on is under construction. While in France we work with the team there to resolve issues, see what progress we are making and meet with people we wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to. Never underestimate the power of a face to face meeting, one week in France can get you more information than a year of remote meetings.
Travel is always interesting when going for work. I live in Philadelphia, so I always am trying to take all of my flights from Philadelphia. This can sometimes be a fight as work is in New Jersey closer to Newark, so many people want to fly out of Newark instead. My flying out of Philadelphia also has the added benefit of putting me on American Airlines, my preferred carrier. The downside is that my job doesn’t allow for premium travel, can’t say I blame them, as a tax payer I wouldn’t want other government officials taking premium travel all the time on my dime.
I have found that booking travel through another person can be frustrating. Since I travel so much, my experience with making and booking flights is fairly extensive. There are many tricks to finding good routing and getting in and out of the airports you want for as little money as possible. When you add a middle man into that mix it become far more difficult to get exactly what you want. Personally I tend to be more flexible with my bookings so I can find cheaper fares, better flights, but also a flexibility to spend a marginal amount of money extra to put you on the plane you want. There is a up and down side to everything and often spending an extra $50 can get you a better flight, a better layover, and a much better aircraft.
With all of this in mind, I have unfortunately lost the chance to fly on my dream aircraft, the 787-8 Dreamliner. The change came for cost reasons, a justified change, but one I personally would have made for what I consider to be a nominal extra cost. Instead of taking that brand new 787 which I designed, I will be taking an A330-300. While the A330 is a nice aircraft, and I have enjoyed it in the past, this is a plane I have flown a number of times. There really isn’t anything too terribly exciting about the aircraft for me.
Though it can be frustrating to add a person into the mix for you travel arrangements, I still am very grateful to be able to fly to France. It is for work, but it’s always nice to visit the world for a job, it’s a chance I never thought I’d get.
One thing does come to mind though, how did we ever use travel agents? The ability to plan all of this travel on my own is half the fun of the trip for me, I enjoy the travel planning as much as the travel… maybe in another life I would have been a travel agent.