Posts about travel

Departure

I’m off to London for a week and a half today. Flying again on SilverJet so I can sleep (disclosure: I got a comped return thanks to my attendance at a Founders’ Club event; since I bought the ticket late, the net is that I’m paying their regular rate). If I can get a flat-bed seat and sleep on the way over to Europe, it makes all the difference in the world; I gain a day of consciousness. I’ll be working at the Guardian and SkyNews and have lots of other things scheduled: a visit at the BBC, a Yahoo event, a trip to Cambridge, a bonfire. I always leave London energized by the innovation and action there vs. the often Eeyorish moaning I hear here. I’ll also leave London poorer; the dollar is a mess and I’ll be lucky to afford Wimpy burgers. Here’s how bad it is: I’m staying at a Holiday Inn. I think I could be fired from Conde Nast for that if I hadn’t quit. Reports will come as wifi allows.

Coming to London

I’m going to be in London working all next week and the first bit of the week after. So I’m just hanging out on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 3 and 4. Anybody around? Drink?

Munich minutes

Just a few minutes from my first day in Munich, badly shot:

Deutschland schwitzt

That was the headline on the lead story on the TV news here tonight. It means Germany sweats, but more colorful sounding. It’s damned hot here. I feel like a one-man global warming jinx. I was in New York for unusual heat, then Florida (when they say it’s a scorcher, it’s a scorcher) and now in Bavaria. Jarvis schwitzt.

International phone tricks

Dave Winer has questions about using mobile phones in Europe. My answer (which I learned from Ken Rutkowski):

1. Get a local SIM card for GSM phone.*
2. Forward your US number to your Skype number.
3. Forward your Skype number to your European GSM number.
This way, people can call your local number and you can talk to them without paying international roaming. Calling the US won’t be cheaper on your mobile phone; for that, use Skype on your laptop while online.

* This requires that you have an unlocked GSM phone. Many GSM phones can be unlocked; just Google for those services or pay your provider for the privilege. I used a really old Nokia phone for years but got a web-ready PDA-phone in January so I can also get email on my phone — a godsend. Also, most providers in Europe sell pay-as-you-go SIM cards that don’t expire; that’s just reason No. 476 why their phone system is better than ours. The EU is also limiting roaming rates within Europe.

Also, Dave, find out whether you need an adapter on the plane for your laptop power. If you’re taking your MacBook, you have to buy that adapter from Apple and only Apple because it has the proprietary magnetic plug.

In Austin

I’m in Austin for UT’s Symposium on Online Journalism. It looks like this town has as many tattoo parlors on every corner as other cities have Starbucks. I tried to convince the leading lights of online journalism to leave the bar last night and go get tatts. Perhaps a nice Google logo. No sale. I also got to meet folks from Dell last night and had a great time. More on that later.

Silverjet & Eos

So now I’ve been lucky enough to fly both the all-business-class airlines, Eos and Silverjet, to London, as well as the Swiss all-business-class flight to Zurich. My addiction to business class and my suits are the only vestiges left of my life as a corporate executive. So here’s my report:

Eos remains the gold standard. They have fewer than 50 seats, each one a gigantic mini salon that converts to a bed at 180 degrees flat. The goodies are nice. The departure lounge in New York is luxurious and the food good. They get you a car to the airport in New York and a train ride in London, from Stanstead airport. But JFK is inconvenient for me and it costs at least 50 percent more than Silverjet (but half the price of the big airlines’ business class). If it’s not my money….

Silverjet is, appropriately, the silver-medal winner. It has 100 seats on a 767. They aren’t quite as spacious, of course, but they do lie flat, though not quite at 180 degrees. And they stay in place, which means the guy ahead of you can’t kneecap you and make you claustrophobic at bedtime. Silverjet flies out of Newark, which is quite convenient for me, and into Luton, which is small and far less harried than Heathrow. The Silverjet lounge in Newark is, like Eos’ in Stanstead, so-so (and in Newark, they couldn’t get the wi-fi to work with Macs, which drove me a bit batty). But the Silverjet lounge in Luton is quite nice, available both at departure and landing, and the check-in is a dream.

For comparison’s sake, the Swiss flight to Zurich, run by Privatair, was configured like Silverjet’s but the service wasn’t as nice. And about a year ago, I took a Lufthansa flight run by Privatair out of Munich but it had only old-style, not-flat, business-class seats. Waa-waa-waa.

The great thing about the flat-bed seats is that I get enough snoozing in to wake up a normal human on the other end and never miss a minute of work to the stupor of jetlag. It buys me a day and the way I schedule trips like my latest — with a conference and meetings with seven media organizations — that day is valuable. Really, it’s not just my leftover snobbery.

If you have the money or the expense account I recommend Eos and Silverjet heartily. They are luxuries worth the price at a better price than the big guys.

: LATER: To give further information on fares (following a comment, below), Silverjet’s run from $1,800 to $2,500 roundtrip (a premium for flexible changes). Eos’ run from $2252 to $3438 to $7500 (depending on timing).

Travelin’ man

I’m off to London for the Online Publishers Association and visits with the Guardian, Telegraph, ITN, and the other City University school of journalism. Will be blogging as wifi, meetings, jetlag, and inspiration allow.

: LATER: I’m sitting on the ground at Newark after the tow bar broke and possibly damaged our jet’s nosegear. We are waiting an hour for the engineers to inspect and see. We’ll see whether SilverJet is as good as Eos in these circumstances.