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Surviving Business Travel

I’ve always loved to travel, even on business. New places, new people, new restaurants, new experiences. Traveling broadens my perspective on regional culture and people, and traveling for work broadens my perspective on business and design.

But lately, I’ve come to realize that I’ve grown to hate flying and the hassle of airports, rental cars, and security. I hate it all.

I hate being screened for security, but not because of the inconvenience or personal sense of intrusion. I hate it because I hate the security personnel, and the dehumanized way in which they treat travelers and their belongings. I hate the smug attitude which they all seem to possess, because they know that they can fuck with you however and whenever they feel like it. I hate having to practically undress before walking through the xray gate. And most of all, I hate the futility and randomness of it all — I mean let’s face it, $8 an hour isn’t exactly going to attract the best and brightest core of security professionals out there. In the end, it’s going to be blind, dumb luck that saves us from a terrorist attack, not grandmas and toddlers getting patted down for explosives.

But security isn’t the worst of it. The worst of it is the planes themselves, and the deplorable level of service (or lack of it) these days. The seats are ridiculously tiny, the meals are nonexistent or inedible, and the flight attendants have become nothing more than soda and peanut vendors who’ve been desensitized by the non-stop moaning and whining of countless hungry, tired, uncomfortable, pissed-off passengers.

And for the love of God, I wish people would stop bringing onboard so much damn carry-on luggage. The plane is tight enough, so check in that stupid duffle bag or that enormous overhead bag that you’re convinced will fit in overhead space. And hey, old people — if you can’t lift the piece of luggage you’ve packed, then check the fucker in when you get your damn boarding pass.

Speaking of boarding pass — what the hell is wrong w/ assigning seats to people, instead of making them rush for seats in groups like fucking animals? I hate flying Southwest for that very reason. It’s asinine and utter inhumane treatment of passengers.

Lastly, when you get to where you’re going, it can often take longer to exit the airport, ride a shuttle to the rental car mall, and get out with a car, than it did to fly to that destination. That happens everytime I fly to LA. I swear that the counter help at the LAX Hertz must take classes on how to process clients as slow as possible, and elicit as much frustration as possible — cause they’ve got it down to a fucking art. Really, they should publish a book about it.

Through it all, I’ve learned small ways to survive and streamline the process so that the torture is a little more bearable.

I now check-in online before I leave for the airport. And I always check to see if there are emergency aisle seats available, or if I can upgrade up a class.

I bought a nifty overnight luggage set that still accommodates my laptop, my business papers, along with enough clothes and personal items for a couple of days, yet somehow takes up half the space of a typical overhead carry-on wheeled suitcase.

I buy a sandwich at the deli downstairs in my office building and pack it in case the flight is delayed or doesn’t serve food.

I bought a set of noise-canceling headphones that allows me to listen to my iPod or the in-flight movie.

I registered for Hertz’s Gold Club, which is nothing more than an extorsion scam for the frequent business traveler who’s become too beaten down to further endure regular counter check-in torture. But that’s me, so I registered.

So how do you endure plane travel? Do you have any tips or tricks that you can share w/ your fellow design professionals?

Do you have a favorite airline or rental car brand you’d recommend for business travel? Or would recommend to avoid?

Any interesting business travel stories? What’s the biggest item that you’ve seen someone try to carry onboard a plane?

Which airport do you like best? Which airport has the best-designed wayfinding system and signage? Which has the worst?

If flying is a brand experience, which airline and airport has the best and worst?

The captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. You’re free to roam about.

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PUBLISHED ON Aug.04.2005 BY Tan
Tselentis’s comment is:


This is a great post, and very useful. Thanks for putting it together.

I too loathe flying these days, but it's a reality that I have to deal with. My biggest issue is sitting for too long. To deal with the awful seats and tight compartments, I get up every 40 minutes---unless it's a short hop---and go to the bathroom. I'll do some yoga, stretching, and calasthenics in my own little studio. Then I return to my seat refreshed and continue reading or snack on any one of the treats I've brought on board. Lord, I mean really, who's paying $7 for that crummy snack box? M&Ms, a granola bar, some beef jerky? You've got to be kidding me. My dog eats better food than that.

On Aug.04.2005 at 04:34 PM
Kyle Hildebrant’s comment is:

Tan, this is so true.

But my feeling is that "we", the consumers, are to blame. It is us always looking for the cheapest deal that has brought about the need for a "discount" flying experience. It is our needs that have opened a market for the Southwests -- and newer discount brands like Ted. I think the only way to put a stop to this, is to start supporting the more luxury airlines, like Virgin, etc. When the industry sees people paying for better designed flying "experiences" the market will respond by catering more to this model.

On a more positive note, Southwest recently covered there god-aweful seating with leather. Is that a step in the right direction, or mearly a pig wearing a dress? You decide. ;)

On Aug.04.2005 at 05:07 PM
marian’s comment is:

I don't travel a lot, so I'm not overly qualified to answer (I did used to travel a lot to asia, africa, europe, but not on business and my experiences are a tad out of date)

This post reminds me of a friend recently saying what a pissoff it is to be greeted into a new country by a fucking asshole (customs agent). The Gap doesn't need greeters, airports do!

I'm very fond of our own Vancouver Itn'l airport. Interestingly designed, light, airy, good art ... and i think the wayfinding's pretty good, but I know my way around it so well I don't pay much attention. I'm proud to have people arrive here.

Another great airport (nearly 20 yrs ago) was Budapest (also very nice customs people!), and a fabulous national airline, Malev Air, to boot.

Really bad airports: Frankfurt! JFK! Calcutta!

A local Canadian airline has recently surprised me with newer planes, roomy leather seats (throughout) and pleasant service (albeit only peanuts/cookies): WestJet. Formerly unbearably hokey and rock-bottom cheap, they've really become pleasant to fly with. I just hate staring at their fucked-up logo.

When i was in LA, i rented from Avis and they were great ... BIG TIP: when renting a car in large city you don't know your way around in, get a CADILLAC! Yes!!! It was awesome! And get it with "Avis Assist" and you are so set, all you'll want to do is drive around all day, with the computer telling you where to turn and when. That's what I did ... my absolutely all-time best experience renting and driving ever. (And Gunnar knows I just won't shut up about it.)

On Aug.04.2005 at 05:13 PM
Kyle Hildebrant’s comment is:

On topic of Virgin Atlantic, find a few photos of the "Luxury Experience"



On Aug.04.2005 at 05:18 PM
jenlou’s comment is:

though it sounds horrible and pee-wee-esque, say it with me kids... "the al-a-mo" is like a rental dream (esp. if you sign up for their frequent program) PLUS they set you free into the lot of your paid choice (economy, intermediate, etc) and you select any car in that section.. keys are inside. how about that.

as far as smacking on the people in security.. is it their fault they are mandated by law to frisk us all down to our bare little piggies? a long long time ago we started the social mess that is finally biting us back in the form of terrorism and spreading fear. a little look at our responsibility as a culture (world or otherwise) is probably a better target for the stones. $8 an hour didn't put the bombs in our transport.. years of ignorance and further segregation of cultures brought us here. travel is no picnic for anyone, anywhere today - but an expletive parade for security personnel? i bet we can do better than that...

On Aug.04.2005 at 05:25 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I agree Marian, you have a very nice airport there in Vancouver. Getting there is a bit of a chore though — I mean, what's up w/ your freeways, and why don't they go directly through downtown? And haven't you Canadians ever heard of a left turn lane? I swear, navigating Granville street to downtown Vancouver is one of the most irritating drives I know.

>BIG TIP: ...get a CADILLAC!

Haha..the thought of you piloting a giant Caddy is just funny, Marian.

On Aug.04.2005 at 05:25 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>an expletive parade for security personnel? i bet we can do better than that...

jenlou — I'm not complaining about the need for the security. I understand why we need it, and have plenty of patience and willingness to endure the inconvenience of it.

It's security personnel, procedures, and attitudes that I'm most hateful of. I've seen security grunts who've smirked to each other after needlessly messing with a passenger. I've gone through airports where security will ask for your boarding pass four times in succession just to get past xray — which is absolutely and needlessly redundant.

Surely there are smarter, more courteous ways to screen people

On Aug.04.2005 at 05:39 PM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

My favorite airport is Charles de Gaulle in Paris, when I got there I thought I woke up in the 60's. Toronto's new terminal is pretty easy to navigate. Though I'm not sure if it's the architecture or the signs that made it comfortable. For those that like to complain about actual flights, here's a nice story. In a couple weeks I'll be taking a trip to NYC. To get there I have to fly from Edmonton west to Vancouver which is at least 1000km. From there I get to fly east across North America. And yes, I will only be taking carry-on .

On Aug.04.2005 at 06:13 PM
gregor’s comment is:

best airline for comfort and amenities for overseas flights - SAS:

+ wifi for economy plus travelers (business class) as well as an outlet for keeping those laptops charged (make sure to bring a converter)

+ ecomony class is more comfortable than others if business class is out of budget.

+ mineral drenched hot towles at regular intervals

+ SAS seems to always overbook flights between Copenhagen and Central Europe and for those willing to wait for the next plane they offer cash on the barrel head (300 Euros last time I was there), expensive lunch and hotel (if a next day flight is the next available flight).

- drawback - Fraulein Helga guards the bathrooms vigilantly to ensure you are using the one appropriate to your class. bring snacks (any airline).

Fave Airport: Copenhagen. Contemporary, easy to navigate with clear and universal signage. Clean as a whistle. Fave domestic airport, Minneapolis.

Least Fave Airport: O'Hare, last time I flew through there I was reminded that football still exists (Packer game: all customers and staff attention riveted to TV screens), with sea-tac (seattle) as runner up - I mean, really, who needs a starbucks every 20 feet.

For short flights usually a couple NYT crosswords do the trick, on others bringing a good book and a couple dvds to pop into the laptop is a sanity saver.

For those who like to fall asleep on take-off, a benadryl tablet does the job (and keeps the sinus pressure down during take off and landing).

On Aug.04.2005 at 06:33 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Only fly international, never domestic (in the US)

Never ever ever fly with an American airline

Best airports

Tucson International - the security guards are respectful & friendly

Manchester - because I like Manchester. The security is stern, but respectful

Moscow - because it has a really oppressive communist vibe that's just fun to experience.*

Worst airport

Lagos, Nigeria - too many kids with assault rifles. You have to bribe your way out of the country. But on the up side really dodgy people with too much money eat in the restaurant and have hushed conversations. Vast swathes of it are deserted & open to exploration. Big cloth bundles make up the majority of the checked baggage.**


*12 years ago

**16 years ago

On Aug.04.2005 at 06:48 PM
marian’s comment is:

Granville street to downtown Vancouver is one of the most irritating drives I know.

Tan! there's only 1 road out of the airport; stay in one lane and follow the giant overhead signs that say "Vancouver"; Granville street drives straight, directly downtown! How hard can it be? Never mind, in November, I'll pick you up.

Haha..the thought of you piloting a giant Caddy is just funny, Marian

It is, isn't it? But I looked gooood in it. And i didn't endanger the lives of a few of America's top graphic designers at all despite what anyone says.

On Aug.04.2005 at 07:24 PM
Jeff Gill’s comment is:

Just realised that my comments weren't very helpful for business travel, so:

Move to a smaller country that has good trains.

On Aug.04.2005 at 07:28 PM
ps’s comment is:


if you can, fly to burbank not LAX. its small, the carrentals are walking distance from the gate. security lines are short.

as far as favorite airport. i like the new terminal in z�rich. great architecture, art. spacious. the santa barbara airport is great too. looks like a ranch with some planes parked in the back. bar with good beer on tap upstairs.

flying businessclass makes things much better.especially on long flights.

... back to work...

On Aug.04.2005 at 09:22 PM
Paul’s comment is:

PS just said it before I had the chance...Burbank airport is a great alternative to LAX. Small & personal, it's very convenient for me living in Pasadena.

Being a musician, I often have to travel with my guitar. I can't trust it to regular check-in, although I will concede to a gate check if it's insisted upon. However, I usually have only my laptop bag with me and always check my suitcase (even if it's a small overnighter)...so it still makes for light travel.

My fave rental agency is Enterprise. Always quick and courteous, and never any surprises. Prices are great, too!

I just got some Etymotic in-ear-canal phones for my iPod. They sound great and I'm looking forward to using them some more on future trips...

On Aug.05.2005 at 03:21 AM
Hyun A.’s comment is:

LOL, wow ur really pissed off. Have a heart for the old folks, I too sometimes try to carry-on slightly oversized bags just because I don't want to risk losing it or waiting for long delays at the baggage claim.

On Aug.05.2005 at 04:22 AM
Tan’s comment is:

>LOL, wow ur really pissed off.

Haha...I'm not really that angry anymore. I just really wanted to write this piece as if I just got to the end of a long day of travel. I wanted to impart that same sense of frustration and exhaustion that comes with travel these days.

And I'm not that heartless. I give the old folks a hand when they need it, and have empathy for their arthritic bones that have to sit in the same, damn uncomfortable chairs that I have to sit it as well. But I can still bitch about it, can't I?

On Aug.05.2005 at 06:17 AM
neha’s comment is:

Tan, I agree the travel experience has gone down. I've flown between India (Bombay) and America a few times and each time the flight seems to get longer. But last year I flew Singapore airline and it wasn't so bad.

In my opinion Honkong has a pretty good airport. Lots to do in the airport it self.

Worst I think is probably Bombay International airport, but I know they are trying to improve it.

Currently in India there are many new airlines coming up hopefully the brand experience may get better!

On Aug.05.2005 at 07:31 AM
Mr.Frankie L’s comment is:

O'Hare in Chicago is pretty good..or is it that

I haven't traveled enough to know better?

On Aug.05.2005 at 09:46 AM
Bryony’s comment is:

O'Hell is a nightmare. Will elaborate more later, but I dread going back.

On Aug.05.2005 at 09:54 AM
margot ’s comment is:

I have a particular problem with people who stand on the moving walkways in airports. To me, it is a symptom of the gluttinous American culture. I mean, how lazy can you get?! To just stand on a moving conveyor belt 'cause you can't be bothered to move your feet-- especially when it gets you to your gate so much faster, and then you can actually sit down!

My votes:


-Moscow: absolute mass chaos, people surging to get through security in nothing that even remotely resembles a line. The only country that I know of where you have to go through customs just to LEAVE.

-Sea-tac: Imho, probably the ugliest American aiport I have seen...

Best: Shipol (Amsterdam) Last time I was there they had many very large fish tanks :-)

On Aug.05.2005 at 10:31 AM
szkat’s comment is:

i've started always wearing flipflops to the airport; minimizes struggle at security checkpoints. i also make it a point to say to security people "i appreciate what you do," and i've never had a problem. sometimes security types will start off gruff or annoyed, but soften as soon as YOU humanize THEM.

worst airport: miami international. confusing, and years of construction.

best airport: a commuter airport on nantucket (non-commercial). it feels like a bed and breakfast. a friend took me up on a cessna 172 and these people were like a big family.

i also love o'hare, but i guess i'm in the minority ;)

On Aug.05.2005 at 11:27 AM
Tan’s comment is:

>Sea-tac: Imho, probably the ugliest American aiport I have seen...

Seatac used to be the ugliest airport in the US, but the airport went through a multi-zillion dollar renovation that added a completely new terminal, a food court that's critically acclaimed, and new public art that's better than any other airport I've been to in the country. It's actually amazing to see the transformation.

On Aug.05.2005 at 11:29 AM
John D.’s comment is:

Just a couple tips that I wish I would have remembered after a hellish 2 weeks of travel to Philadelphia on Delta last month:

1. Check everything -- except for a good book to read. You are more likely to leave something on the plane than to have them lose your luggage. If there is one area where they've gotten better since 9/11, it is with the control of your luggage.

2. Carefully pick your clothing for comfort, and don't wear anything that you'll have to disrobe when you go through security. It's fun to stand in line relaxed, watching everyone else take off their clothes. You'll even have some time to catch a glimpse of the X-ray machine and see what is in other peoples bags.

3. Earplugs -- you can't believe the difference this makes. Airplanes are unbelievably loud.

4. Avoid foods for at least 2 days before your trip that might give you gas, and DO NOT get one of those damn breakfast burritos filled with egg and bacon before you get on a long flight.

5. Use the bathroom everytime you see one in the airport. It might be bad, but it is going to better than that closet on the plane, and much better than "holding" it.

6. Accept the fact that it is going to take a long time to do EVERYTHING, if you are in a hurry, you are going to be pissed off.

7. Plan a whole day just for traveling. Think about it, even when your flight is only 1 hour, you've got 2 hours to get on your plane, 2 hours to get off and get your luggage/rental car. That's 5 hours gone. But if you've got the whole day, you've got 4 or 5 hours left to take a walk and let your body unwind from the noise, vibration, and that TSA probe that really just didn't feel right.

On Aug.05.2005 at 11:30 AM
Rob’s comment is:

At least here on the East Coast, for travel especially between Baltimore and NYC, the best solution is to avoid the hassle of the plane and take the train. (Fortunatley, I missed out on the Acela crisis)

Coolest airport (US): The Detroit airport. Really dig the "sci-fi" feel and the shuttle service overhead, inside the terminal.

Least favorite: De'Gaulle in Paris. Maybe it was simply my horrible French but it just seemed way too big and confusing. Not to mention the cab ride there, complete with traffic backup in a tunnel, breathing noxious fumes.

As far as airlines go, Southwest does its job right. You get what you pay for. Airline I'll never fly again, AirTran. A nightmare trip to New Orleans.

But honestly, I really, really miss TWA.

On Aug.05.2005 at 01:11 PM
john’s comment is:

In addition to Burbank, Long Beach has a great airport with friendly people and Jet Blue, the greatest airline ever. Actual legroom and you choose your seat assignment online. A Godsend for frequent trips to NYC.

Oh, and noise-blocking headphones changed my life.

On Aug.05.2005 at 02:04 PM
Gunnar Swanson’s comment is:

O'Hell is a nightmare.

It and Reagan National are among the few US airports where you can get to town on public transit. Cheaper and faster to the Loop than limos, etc.

On Aug.05.2005 at 03:15 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> I mean, really, who needs a starbucks every 20 feet.

Um, hello! Me. To NOT have a Starbucks in an (American) airport is unAmerican and unacceptable.

A few random thoughts:

O’Hare is a nightmare. Every single flight leaves late because of their runway distribution (which they have been trying to fix for ages but just haven’t been able to). The food court is quite good though. The international terminal is a sorry excuse of a terminal, ugly, deserted and hot. Gunnar is right though, public transportation to and from O'Hare is quite convenient, specially when you consider the horrific traffic jams right on I-94/90.

San Diego’s airport is insanely close to downtown. You are there in 15 minutes, quite amazing.

Seattle's airport is depressing, at least the baggage claim.

When we went to Berlin, upon arriving, the immigration check is literally right outside the bridge (or tunnel or whatever you want to call it) as you step outside the plane and into the airport. This creates a loooong line and wait. We were in the very last seat of the plane and it took us a while to get out.

Flying in and out of New York can be frustrating, tiring and expensive. Getting to La Guardia or JFK with public transportation is nearly impossible unless you have plenty of patience and a strong threshold for lugging bags amid hundreds of people in steamy subway stations and buses. And if you take a cab you are looking at at least $35 plus tips and tolls. Getting to Newark is probably the easiest and quickest with public transportation (although it involves tredding through Penn station, an experience altogether its own). When I first got to NY I flew out of Newark, took a cab and got hit with a $65 ride, because NY cabbies are not allowed to carry passengers back from NY so they charge you double. Sucks.

In terms of flying "Experience": I don't expect anything anymore. Anything good that happens (from getting upgraded to first class to getting a full can of soda) I consider a bonus, everything else is something that needs to get done and if I can numb myself through the process all the better.

Tan brings up a good point with the security personnel. The problem is that you give these people — who are probably bored, tired and cranky — a little bit of power and they handle it poorly. They know you can't do anything about it, so if they feel like fucking with you on a petty power trip, they will.

In terms of what I do to keep sane… I buy trashy magazines like Us and People, keep in touch with how much trashier Britney Spears is.

On Aug.05.2005 at 03:55 PM
graham’s comment is:

airport security in the u.s. used to be frighteningly low key. for the last few years it's been almost like everywhere else thank the baby lord jesus. though it likely makes not an atom of difference if the will is there . . .

On Aug.05.2005 at 04:11 PM
Matt’s comment is:

I have learned to always take a sample-size bottle of hand sanitizer. I use it every so often while in transit (especially after using the washroom. Why? Am I some sort of microbaphobe? I found that now I don't get sick (cold, cough, whatever) immediately after taking a flight. Used to get me every time. That hand sanitizer's like a personal force field. Try it.

On Aug.05.2005 at 04:21 PM
Matt’s comment is:

Oh and Seatac just sucks - what's with having all international flights land simultaneously and then flood all those passengers down those stupid twisty chrome pipe corridors to only two very grumpy customs people who keep telling excited Japanese tourists that they can't understand what they're saying? Mental.

On Aug.05.2005 at 04:28 PM
Tan’s comment is:

If you want a good laugh, check out this ficticious Website about an airline called Sky High Airlines.

Sky High was created for an advertising campaign for Alaska Airline, to show just how bad other airlines can be. It's loosely based on Southwest.

Don't miss downloading the "Nicessities" catalog, which is based on SkyMall catalogs.

On Aug.05.2005 at 05:48 PM
marian bantjes’s comment is:

i've started always wearing flipflops to the airport

One day, I swear, I'm just going to strip right down to my underwear before walking through that machine. (I'll make sure I'm wearing a matching set.)

On Aug.05.2005 at 06:01 PM
gregor’s comment is:

Um, hello! Me. To NOT have a Starbucks in an (American) airport is unAmerican and unacceptable.

please, please don't report me to homeland security or the latte polizia.

Perhaps "A" Starbucks, but several dozen from all points of peripheral vision?

going undercover

On Aug.05.2005 at 06:30 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Perhaps "A" Starbucks, but several dozen from all points of peripheral vision?

O'Hare balances the inequalities in Starbuck-to-crappy-airport ratio. O'Hare brings good karma to the force. (Ok, I'm getting too hardcore now).

And speaking of Starbucks, if you are in Midway and panic that there is no Starbucks go to Potbelly's sandwiches, they brew starbucks coffee and brew it good.

On Aug.05.2005 at 08:01 PM
Jim’s comment is:

Count me in among the minority that likes O'Hare, as well; having grown up less then ten minutes away from O'Hare by car, it always makes me feel like home.

Seriously, though, if you want to see a nice airport, check out Pittsburgh International; the place was designed to have optimal transfers as it was originally a US Airways hub. Great airport, everything is wonderfully designed.

On Aug.05.2005 at 08:30 PM
Robin’s comment is:

I went to the Bahamas for vacation last December and was really surprised by the airport there. When we arrived, luggage was strewn everywhere, and I mean lots of it... some of it was even opened. We eyed the lost luggage counter that had a huge crowd of people, and wandered around the airport for an hour looking at every piece of luggage to find ours (and silently cursing the fact that everyone has black suitcases). When we had just about given up, we accidentally found ours and walked out.

There was defintely a gap between what I'd expect from a tourist destination airport and the reality. Maybe if the tourism board had spend less on branding and more on airport personnel.... (sorry Duffy!)

Needless to say, on the return trip I carried on anything that I wanted to make sure I saw again.

And to answer the original question, I just recently signed up on a trial basis for one of those "president's clubs" and we'll see if that helps with traveling.

On Aug.06.2005 at 01:09 AM
Derrick Schultz’s comment is:

I agree with Jim that Pittsburgh International is one of the best American airports (but then again I'm from Pittsburgh, so I use it a lot more). Its just too bad US Airways screwed PIT and the place is basically a shell of what it could be now. But if you get a chance to stop over there, have fun with the mall that is only available to passengers now.

I've only recently begun to fly a lot, and I find the best way to approach it is to be overly nice to the airline employees. Asshole after asshole reams these people for something they dont have control over. You'd be surprised how the one person who says "If there's anything you can do, I'd appreciate it" instead of "fuck you" makes out. I've had at least four free meals on airline management.

Logan Int'l is my least favorite American airport. Its frightening how lax their security is, even after all said security upgrades they had. but then it also only takes me 10 minutes to go through everything there, so its a toss-up.

On Aug.06.2005 at 03:03 PM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

> I have learned to always take a sample-size bottle of hand sanitizer. I use it every so often while in transit (especially after using the washroom. Why? Am I some sort of microbaphobe? I found that now I don't get sick (cold, cough, whatever) immediately after taking a flight. Used to get me every time. That hand sanitizer's like a personal force field. Try it.

Matt — colds and coughs are caused by viruses, not bacteria — so your hand sanitizer isn't quite the "personal force field" that you think it is. Besides, there was a Tufts University study a few years ago that indicated all the antibacterial products people use may actually contribute to the increase of antibiotic resistance in bacteria; by encouraging mutations.

As a recent victim of a massive infection (which didn't get better with the usual first course of oral antibiotics, resulting in a couple days in the hospital), my advise is to wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water — at least 15 seconds. That will take care of viruses and bacteria.

And remember that any protection you have is finished as soon as you touch anything.

On Aug.07.2005 at 07:09 PM
BlueStreak’s comment is:

Mark, I think your treatment in the hospital may have caused brain damage. Alcohol based sanitizers can be effective control against virus microbes as well as bacteria. And can be better than washing with soap and water in certain circumstances.

Hand sanitizers installed in Tufts bathrooms

On Aug.08.2005 at 10:10 AM
mazzei’s comment is:

So how do you endure plane travel?

SLEEP I’m one of those people who falls asleep right before we take off and wakes up about a half hour before landing, a plane is one of the few places where no one can bug you and sleep is guilt free.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you can share w/ your fellow design professionals? Drink lots of water and don’t eat the food in the airport or the plane bring your own.

Do you have a favorite airline or rental car brand you’d recommend for business travel? In the end it’s all the same…

Or would recommend to avoid? Avoid giving anyone attitude in any security, or customer service situations, you’ll just make it worse and help the old people, it’s where your going to end up..remember?

Any interesting business travel stories?

Once a flight was cancelled and of course everyone stared yelling at the ticket guy who was trying to re-route us. I was cool about it the ticket guy said, “you’ll be happy getting home” I sure was in first class-I was the only person not yelling at the guy who in the end was the only person who could help any of us.

What’s the biggest item that you’ve seen someone try to carry onboard a plane? Not biggest just most idiotic, some lady didn’t want any other luggage in the overhead next to her expensive luggage…need I say more?

Which airport do you like best?

Kauai, Hawaii

If flying is a brand experience, which airline and airport has the best and worst? I fly American for the miles- it’s fine. I don’t rely on an airport or airline for a brand experience -just get me there safe.

no comment on the hand sanitizer. eww!

On Aug.08.2005 at 11:31 AM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

Fine BlueStreak, alcohol-based... Yes, if you're out in the woods or find yourself away from soap and hot water, sanitize away. But the last time I looked, there were sinks, soap and towels on airplanes.

Also note that the Tufts hand sanitizers project was a student-initiated one and an attempt to address the lack of paper towels in dorm bathrooms; not a referendum on soap vs. sanitizers. I suspect the University didn't want to go to the expense of installing hot-air dryers. It's much easier to mount a dispenser. By the way, Tufts also happens to be the headquarters for the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics.

For further reading, I would like to guide your attention:







Here — scroll down for qualifying comments about Purell

and Here — where the fun science stuff is

Oh, and thanks for the "slight" ad hominem.

On Aug.08.2005 at 02:44 PM
BlueStreak’s comment is:


Matt's post was about hand sanitizers. You're trying to shift it to antibacterial agents and they are not the same. The Tufts study you refer to was on household antibacterial products. You're trying to link the two together and they aren't related.

"I suspect the University didn't want to go to the expense of installing hot-air dryers"

If you're into checking university studies, check the studies about the bacteria that those hot air dryers blow onto your freshly washed hands.

On Aug.08.2005 at 07:02 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Ok, ok, break it up you two germaphobes.

Forget the hands. Let's face it, the most disgusting thing on a plane is actually the seats themselves. Can you imagine all the sweat, hair oils and gaseous emissions that they absorb each flight? It's probably worse than the bed spreads in cheap motels. Blech!

Plane seats rarely get changed and probably are never cleaned or shampooed. Yet we all will happily sit in those chairs for hours, festering in other people's residues and germs.

And then there's the recycled air system on planes. Every cough, hack, sneeze, gets picked up and redistributed at 30,000 feet to all passengers alike. Mmmm, tastes like respiratory phlegm. Yummy.

Whether you should wash or sanitize your hands is the least of your worries.

On Aug.08.2005 at 08:41 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>Kauai, Hawaii

I agree Nancy. It's a beautiful airport to fly into.

Speaking of beautiful landings, I think Hong Kong is the scariest as well as the most amazing airport to land at. As you slowly descend at Kowloon, you realize that you're right next to a bunch of skyscrapers — so close in fact, that you can see people's laundry hanging on their balconies, and see through the high-rise apartments' windows. All while your giant 747 is trying to make contact on a little patch of runway right next to the water.

On Aug.08.2005 at 10:30 PM
m. kingsley’s comment is:

BlueStreak — acknowledged on the dryers. On linking antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, I maintain my position and respectfully disagree — as does the FDA:

Even in health-care settings, the CDC guidelines recommend soap and water handwashing on hands that are visibly soiled, or contaminated with proteinaceous material, rather than using the alcohol-based sanitizers.
Proper handwashing, as described in the Food Code continues to serve as a vital and necessary public health practice in retail and food service. Using alcohol gel in place of handwashing in retail and food service does not adequately reduce important foodborne pathogens on foodworkers' hands. Concern about the practice of using alcohol-based hand gels in place of hand washing with soap and water in a retail or food service setting can be summarized into the following points:
Alcohols have very poor activity against bacterial spores, protozoan oocysts, and certain nonenveloped (nonlipophilic) viruses...

It's interesting to consider the role of hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps & materials in the history of class society and attitudes about cleanliness. There's a fascinating book by Alain Corbin, The Foul and The Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination, that describes the contribution of Baron von Haussmann's city plan for Paris (including sewers), Villermé and Parent-Duch�telet's role in the privatization of waste (considered a source for Western embarrassment at the act of elimination) and post-Pasteur microbiology to modernist society:

...if it was true that a social division of stench — almost uniformly distributed in the not so distant past — was now in force in the city, it was because a switch had taken place over a period of some twenty years. During that period attention to smells and the stench of the poor, along with the indifference of the poor to their own smells, tended to become the essential relay of anxiety about a generalized putrid space. For so long as education had not leveled the thresholds of sensory tolerance, it was thought that purification requirements must be selective, quite apart from the fact that disinfecting the space reserved for bourgeois activities could only enhance property values. Wealth increased when the volume of refuse and the strength of its stench decreased. On the other hand, purifying rented premises crowded with apathetic workers would do nothing for the time being but add inordinately to landlords' expenses. The quest for profit strengthened this social distribution of odors.

It would be an interesting project to extend Corbin's work into the history of modern deodorants and the current mania for antibiotic/antimicrobial products. Mix in American attitudes: fear of disease, fear of shit, fear of death... No wonder this stuff is in the market.

Tan — please forgive the digression on your thread. I'll stop with the germs. But you're also not mentioning that certain countries spray airplane interiors with pesticides to prevent invasive insects from entering, the increased exposure to cosmic rays, contamination from engine exhaust entering the cabin...

The House Subcommittee on Aviation's report on http://www.house.gov/transportation/aviation/06-05-03/06-05-03memo.html" target="_blank">The Aircraft Cabin Environment states:

Independent published research shows that the concentration of biological microorganisms in an aircraft cabin is much lower than in an office building, on an ordinary city street, or on other modes of public transport such as buses and trains.

Frankly, I have my doubts. Why travel? Send a PDF!

...and yes, Kawaii is beautiful; as is Charles de Gaulle.

On Aug.09.2005 at 03:58 AM
BlueStreak’s comment is:


I agree that washing with good soap and water is superior hygiene IF you have a sterile way to dry your hands. But that's not always possible. So anyway I'm ready to drop it too. And please accept my apology for being flippant about your infection — not funny.

On Aug.09.2005 at 10:37 AM
Design Gang’s comment is:

anybody got any good tips for a stylish, easy-to-carry, rugged carry-on? i've got one that is stylish, but is basically one big compartment, and when full, is a bitch to carry, plus if you're on the train or plane and need to open it for your laptop or something, you've got to expose your undies (dirty & clean) to whomever is seated around you...

On Aug.09.2005 at 08:57 PM
Joe Murphy’s comment is:

Want to see a pretty airport to fly into? Check out this one: Denali, Alaska ... sorry for the self-promo post, Flight Club is a site I run that helps people meet other people in airports and on airplanes. An online social community for air travelers.

Oh, and if you're looking for lots of quality writing about air travel, Tripso regularly has quality features on tips and nuances in flying.

On Aug.09.2005 at 09:40 PM
david e.’s comment is:

Tan, if you're flying from Seattle to LA, fly into Burbank — even if it means flying Southwest. You'll save lots of time. I've been living in Los Angels for 8 years and have only used LAX twice. If you do find yourself at LAX, there are great (and strong) margaritas at El Cholo — one of LA's oldest Mexican restaurants that now has one inside the airport. Avoid the Encounter restaurant no matter how cool it looks.

On Aug.11.2005 at 04:01 PM
Tan’s comment is:

>fly into Burbank

Yes, that's what Peter (ps) suggested also.

But alas, everytime I fly into LA, I'm rushing to get to a meeting at the office, which is near Century City/Beverly Hills. So LAX is actually not that far of a commute. Burbank, while an easier airport to get in and out of, would take another hour's worth of drive time cross-town.

But I'll try Burbank on one of my next trips — when I fly in the night before and have a little more time.

And thanks for the tip — I'll try El Cholo next time. But no bean dish.

>got any good tips for a stylish, easy-to-carry, rugged carry-on?

The set I bought is a Swiss Army/Victorinox brand set. It's a 1/2 sized rollon case that fits a padded shoulder laptop bag inside of it, along with compartments for documents and business materials. And it still has enough garment space to fit a couple of shirts, a pair of slacks, and some undies and socks. It's perfect for a 2-3 day business trip.

For longer trips, I have a Samsonite roll-on flight bag with a unique wheel system that allows you to wheel it down the plane aisles on its narrow side. It's surprising how a little convenient feature like that can make all the difference.

On Aug.11.2005 at 08:17 PM
Nathan Derksen’s comment is:

Long time lurker coming out from behind the veil for a moment.

I would like to share an experience that I had flying earlier this year. I typically dress pretty casually for business trips, however I was heading to New York for a project launch, and I decided to dress it up. I wore a rather snappy suit and tie (I'm a web developer, I'm normally allergic to them), and I was a little surprised with the experience I had. Even though I had a regular economy ticket, the guy at the security desk singled me out and put me into the area for first class security check-in, which had no line up. Customs was a breeze, attendants were friendly, and it was overall a very good trip. Perhaps it was just my perception of events, but it seems that airline staff respond differently to those who dress well.

Which airport is my favourite? I must say I am fond of my own Vancouver airport as well. I'm definitely not fond of JFK, especially after waiting in line for over an hour outside in the brutal cold waiting for a cab. Signage at the carousels was definitely lacking. If I go out this door, can I get back in? Oops, guess not!Toronto is not bad, just as long as their baggage handlers don't go on strike. Chicago is a blur in my mind right now, but it's at least in a city with nice character.

On Aug.15.2005 at 03:58 AM
Tan Le’s comment is:

Nathan — it's funny you say that, but I have the opposite experience. When I travel for business, I usually travel the same day as my meetings, so I have to be dressed up and prepared to go right off the plane. But that 's when I typically get flagged for further molestation at security. And it's not just me — the same thing happens when I travel w/ coworkers who are equally well-dressed. Shoes, belt, jacket, all come off as we get patted down by the TSA goon squad. I honestly think they love fucking w/ business people in their powersuits and making them dance and strip in public.

But on the occasion when I get a chance to fly in early, I'm usually dressed in a tshirt, shorts, and flip-flops. And guess what? No problems whatsoever through security. That's because there's nothing to take off — and no real way for a TSA goon to harrass me.

On Aug.16.2005 at 02:36 PM
Nathan Derksen’s comment is:

Yah, it could well have been dumb luck. I just pine for the days of Greyhound Air. They were a nice little regional Canadian airline that was no frills, but provided I thought the best service of any airline I have flown. They had in-flight games, giveaways, and it felt like the staff were not horribly bored with their jobs, which most other airlines seem to portray. Their ads involved a Greyhound dog walking up to an airplane wheel and peeing on it, and the shirts that they gave away had that imagery, too. Funny ads, and definitely memorable.

On Aug.17.2005 at 03:00 AM
Jasmine Trabelsi’s comment is:

Tips for traveling


Always eat a good meal before traveling. The airline food sucks and you will be less tempted by bad food when stranded at the airport.


Stay hydrated, take airborne and do not use the forced air valve.


I am 5' 2''and even I feel cramped when traveling. I take Dramine for motion sickness and I am out like a light.

Best airports

SFO, Amsterdam, Logan Terminal C in Boston (order the tuna burger from Legal Seafoods).

Worst airport and airline

JFK, Domestic flights with LAN Peru

Best airline

Jet Blue all the way! Even my mom who is afraid to fly likes them and talk about branding.

On Aug.22.2005 at 12:47 AM