30 Dec

It’s upon us!


More on Continental improving their product

20 Sep

Apparently, yesterday’s post on what Continental can do to be competitive was a hit. A large increase in traffic registered in my statistics and caused the site a bit of a hiccup late last night.

Driving to work this morning I continued to think of things Continental can do to keep their business strong and make it even stronger. I have created another list below that outlines my thoughts on a variety of different things Continental can improve on.

President's Club - IAH C Terminal South

  • President’s Club experience
    • Overall, the President’s Club is a great way to get away from the terminal and relax in a much calmer atmosphere.
    • The internet access in most of the clubs is awful. I am not sure if it is due to leechers sitting outside of the club’s doors or if the network connections are just that bad, whatever it is, it needs to be fixed. Continental has a huge advantage over other clubs by simply providing internet access for free, now do us one better and make it really usable.
    • Increased space/seating should be a priority. After visiting the President’s Club in the E terminal at IAH, I was taken aback by the fact that people had turned four seats by the windows into their personal offices, leaving very little seating for those of us who just wanted to get off of our feet. If Continental can increase club size, or add more clubs to airports where they know it gets crowded, things would be much more enjoyable.
  • Legroom in coach
    • The legroom in coach class on Continental’s flights is laughable. Sitting in it for four hours is almost unbearable, let alone a transatlantic or worse, transpacific flight. Continental needs to seriously consider expanding the fleet to increase frequency to make up for a slight seat reduction to add the legroom. I can guarantee that customers in the back will be much happier.
  • Fleet aircraft
    • Continental still has a large number of 737-300s and 737-500s in their fleet. These planes are older, even less comfortable, and used on routes that make them teeter on the brink of unbearable. Flying from Houston to Newark on one of these is right up there on the list of least favorite things to do, right below going to the dentist. Update the fleet and/or pull these planes off of longer haul routes and have them relegated to short hops.
    • The ERJ situation has to be fixed. Newark is clogged to the brink of collapse with these little birds taking up gates, landing and takeoff slots, and overall airspace. Reduce the number of these planes and customers will see a vast improvement in on-time performance and comfort at both Newark and Houston Intercontinental. This goes for the CRJ-200 as well, which are even less comfortable than the ERJs.
  • Hub locations
    • Continental’s hub situation is slowly getting better. With the recent announcement that the operation at Cleveland would receive $50 million in renovations there is a glimmer of hope.
    • The west coast needs some sort of “base of operations” for Continental. It used to be LAX but that has been all but abandoned. An increased presence on the west coast will definitely boost business customers traveling back and forth between New York and LAX or SFO.
    • A hub on the west coast could also improve flight options for those of us looking to get to China, Japan, and Southeast Asia faster and for less money. It is in Continental’s best interest to look into what it would take to get a full scale hub built on the west coast.

That’s all that really struck me this morning driving into work. I am sure I left something off and will more than likely end up editing this article to fix it. If you would like to contact me with your suggestions/ideas for Continental, feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at ssegraves@gmail.com.

*This article will be republished at http://badice.com and http://stephan.newsvine.com

What Continental can do to continue to compete

19 Sep

When my “base of operations” switched from Dallas to Houston in February of this year my choice of airlines changed too. I was a frequent flier on American Airlines and had the status to prove it. I enjoyed DFW and did not mind flying in and out of there. With the move to Houston, my airline of choice has become Continental Airlines and the airport I frequent is now IAH.

With the change my enjoyment of flying has increased by a great amount. Continental has only let me down one time but they have more than made up for it with great service on every other trip with them. My recent flight in the BusinessFirst cabin from Newark to Seattle was one of the most enjoyable flights I have ever taken. The Continental flight attendants are some of the best in the business and the fact that the airline still provides meals at mealtimes is a testament to their devotion to their customers.

Recently, Continental, in conjunction with a message board community of frequent fliers, announced that they would be holding a very large event at Intercontinental Airport. The event will take place September 28-29 and will include tours of Continental facilities and a Q&A session with various Continental “C” level management, including Larry Kellner himself. As you can imagine, I am attending this event with Jess and want to have a nice list of suggestions and questions for the Continental management.

So, how can Continental improve and compete more heavily for my business?

  • Better transcontinental services and comfort.
    • Continental only has one east coast hub, Newark, and it serves Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. The comfort on these planes for both coach and first class passengers is minimal. If you are on a red-eye, do not assume you will get a good amount of sleep in coach, the seat pitch is only 31″ and pales in comparison to JetBlue’s 34″ pitch. The three inches may not sound like a lot, but it definitely helps when you are wanting to relax a little.
    • The above comment goes hand-in-hand with upgrading of the transcontinental fleet, which should be segregated into an almost three class configuration. Have a first class, business class, and economy section (with more legroom) and increase the capacity on the routes. It is near impossible to obtain a first class seat on a transcontinental route due to the fact that the largest plane flying these routes only has 24 seats in the front.
  • Improve the elite check-in and security lines, especially in Houston and Newark.
    • The Newark elite security lines in terminal C are a joke, they merge right before you get to a metal detector and just become a bottleneck as the airport gets busier throughout the day.
    • Give elites a true “elite” line and make their trip a little more hassle free, it makes all the difference, especially when being forced to fly through Newark.
  • President’s Club food choices are going the way of the Dodo
    • I understand that the President’s Club is a way to escape the hustle and bustle of the terminal and I appreciate it, but the food options are somewhat depressing. The cheese and crackers combination just gets old after a while. Maybe add a few other small options such as bite-sized sandwiches or some sort of meat to accompany my cheese and crackers.
  • Food options in coach teeter on the inedible side of the spectrum
    • The cheesesteak pizza and the faux-hamburger have to go. I know that Continental is just trying to put some food into the customer’s belly, but these options are not really options at all.
    • Give a salad with chicken on top. The vinaigrette dressing that is provided on the flights is great, now compliment it with a little chicken or smoked salmon.

Those are the main quirks that stick out in my head as I walk through an airport terminal. I will still be a loyal Continental flier even the above never get implemented, it would just be nice to see it happen. The one other thing that Continental could do to keep its already loyal elite fliers is block off middle seats for them. Instead of filling the plane from the front to back, do the reverse, I guarantee there will be a great majority of businessmen who will thank you.

Grasping at straws

26 Oct

I have been struggling lately with just getting through the day. My motivation levels have plummeted and I can’t seem to get my head around work after lunch. It is frustrating and at the same time makes me question what I need to do.

Sun Certified Java Programmer 5.0

28 Jun

I am studying to take the SCJP 5.0 some time soon. There are some new concepts covered, such as Generics and Enumerated types, so I am trying to get a handle on those before jumping head first into the exam. We looked at a few of these topics during some .NET training but it’s a little different in Java so I need to get used to the subtle nuances.

I haven’t updated in a while, mostly because I have been working hard and traveling. Once I really get settled I will be able to update more and whenever I please.

New Suit

4 Jan

I finally took the time to go out and purchase a new suit. It is a Calvin Klein black pinstripe and was just the right price. My dad kind of balked when he saw it and asked me why I did not look for something that was Italian made and I stared at him with a look that screamed ‘$$$’.

I am happy with the suit and will have to see how it looks with a few of the ties and shirts that I bought as well. Maybe I will take a few pictures and see what kind of feedback I get.

Teacher Evaluations

6 Dec

Texas Tech University has a professor/teacher assistant evaluation system in which every student is given a scantron type form to fill out. Each of the forms has a standard set of questions and space for user comments.

To be honest, most students just go down the questions and fill-in “5” as the rating for every criteria and leave the comments blank. This morning, in my Corporate Finance class, things were a little different. The professor walked to the front of the class and stated, “I read the evaluations, every single one of them, which means this semester I will read around 600. I learn from the evaluations, I learn what works in this class and what does not. Please take your time and leave meaningful comments.”. Never have I seen students taking such care to fill out their scantrons. Why don’t all professors do this? It took him two minutes to state his expectations and his reasoning for the evaluations and it increased student interest to the point where they were willing to fill out the forms honestly and with good feedback.

This tiny bit of feedback does so much to increase the attention paid to detail it makes hard to believe that we do not do this more everywhere. Most people strive for reasoning and that’s all. They want to know why they are doing something and what impact their actions will have in the future. With a simple explanation people will be more willing to apply themselves and do a better job.

This post was just a social observation that I made today. I notice a lot of things like this and it’s those times that I wish I had a moleskine.