Saturday, March 08, 2008

How To Get The Best Service On Your Next Flight

Photo Courtesy Mauren Veras

Confessions Of... A Flight Attendant - Budget Travel

Other ways to get under a flight attendant's skin: asking for beverages and food before we even take off; requesting seconds before the rest of the cabin has been served; ringing the call button so you can give us your trash after we've passed through with a garbage bag half a dozen times; ringing the call button to find out when we'll land. Basically, you never want to push the call button at all.

If you fly a little, or fly a lot for that matter, you've probably seen your share of flight attendants. From the surly to the sickly sweet (Buh-bye!), they run the gamut. But these folks really do have an important job. No, not serving you half cans of Coke and a bad of stale pretzels. Their job is to be there in case the unthinkable happens. In case of emergency, these folks are there to try to protect and save your hiney.

This article offers up some tidbits of advice on how to get the most out of your flight - and flight attendants. These folks can make your trip pleasant or miserable, and all it takes is a little kindness and understanding on your part.

In addition to the tips in the linked article, there are some I've been able to put together over my miles of flying:

  • Address them by name - If you can get their name, either by asking or just checking a nametag, and use it when you address them, you're more likely to get a warm response to a request. One way to find out the name - actually listen when they make their announcements. They usually indicate who is speaking and name names.
  • Listen to the preflight instructions - Yup, you've heard them. So have they. They are about as thrilled at repeating them as you are of hearing them. But trust me, they'll make eye contact with those that listen. And that helps things later on.
  • Help them out - Stay out of the aisles unless you absolutely have to be there, don't hang out in the galley area unless you have to, and lay off the call button unless it's really urgent. And a fresh drink doesn't count as urgent.
  • Don't be an idiot - If you would be embarrassed to behave a certain way in front of your mom or your significant other, don't subject the flight attendants or your fellow passengers to it. If you can't handle your liquor, don't consume.

I'm sure you've probably got some more, so be sure to drop a comment and share!

How To Predict The Next President

Photo Courtesy JM3

2008 Presidential Election Interactive Map and History of the Electoral College

It seems every election season, Tim Russert drags out a whiteboard and starts speculating on the electoral college count for presidential candidates. If you want to be like Timmy, you might want to check this site I stumbled across today. The site keeps track of the electoral college count based on recent polls, showing where each state stands and where in the electoral college count each candidate stands.

A candidate for president must garner 270 electoral college votes to win the presidential campaign. As election day nears, the site will present the possible outcomes and how each candidate can reach the magic 270. It even allows you to be your own electoral college analyst, changing the count by clicking on states in an interactive map.

So why is 270 the magic number? It's the math of elections. There are 538 Presidential Electors who represent the voting of their particular states. The number of electors is based on population, and the number of electors is equal to the number of congressional representatives each state has in Congress. The smallest state, therefore, has three electors, 1 for each Senator and one representative. The biggest states are California (55), Texas (34), New York (31), Florida (27), and Illinois (21).

Whenever the vote is close, as in 2000 and 2004, the subject of "faithless electors" comes up. This is the concept that an elector, who is pledged to vote for one candidate, changes their vote. It has happened, but in reality, many states have legal recourse against such actions, and penalties for doing so. Electors essentially pledge that they will vote as the electorate has, and in most cases are bound to do so.

Given that this election may be one of the most closely watched and hotly contested in recent history, bookmark to keep track of how things are going.