Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

CLEAR Conscience, and A Preview

After two weeks in a remote wilderness area of Montana, with no cell phone coverage and extremely limited dial-up email once every 2-3 days, I sheepishly admit that it's darn nice to be back on a high-speed connection. One forgets that dial-up, which we all started on, is sooooooo sloooooooow, no matter what the dial-up connection speed. I could hardly even check my messages via primitive webmail, let alone use Outlook to download messages to my laptop or use the Internet to write a blog post.

I pride myself on not becoming an email/Internet junkie who can't be without his daily fix. Same with my blankety-blank cell phone. However, this year, on my family's annual trek to the Montana wilderness, I missed my connections more than ever before. Can this be a good thing? I noticed my father-in-law, who's in his late seventies, was also anxious to dial up to get his email (unlike the younger John McCain, who doesn't like to use "the email"), so maybe it's not just me.

I'll be writing about our experiences getting there and back from Raleigh in the next few days, which include flying Southwest nonstop into Denver and driving 1600+ miles to Montana and back across Colorado and Wyoming.

But this morning, my first back in Raleigh, I just want to add a short, happy footnote to my previous blog entry (the formatting of which went inexplicably wrong and could not be corrected) regarding CLEAR.

Regular readers may recall that I signed up for CLEAR in anticipation that it was reaching critical mass and would soon be worth the annual fee to speed me through certain airports. However, my application was held, pending an in-person vetting session at one of its designated airport clearing stations.

Then a CLEAR laptop was stolen which contained information on thousands of applicants like me who were waiting to be approved. I received an email from the company explaining that the computer had been recovered and that my personal data had not been compromised. However, their negligence eroded my confidence. I decided that CLEAR needed to mature a bit longer before I became part of it, and I called them to cancel my pending application and get a refund.

The CLEAR personnel I spoke with could not have been nicer. They explained that my credit card had not yet been processed, and thus there was no refund to be made. Instead, they confirmed my verbal cancellation with an email, and that was that. I was impressed with their crisp efficiciency, and also noted that I did not have to wait long for a real person when I phoned. When CLEAR gets its act together, I will consider another shot at joining.

Look for my extended report on Southwest, DIA, Denver and environs, Wyoming, Montana, and sundry impressions of life on the road by next Wednesday.


Blogger Ann said...

Will, your trips always make me grateful for my own relatively easy ones! I think I can shed some light on the SW seating arrangements. Seats 1-20 or so are reserved for the people who pay full fare. The next 15 or so are for the people who are in their "a" group--those who fly a certain number of times in a given year. So, if none of those passengers are on your flight, 36 could be very close to the first set of folks to board.

9/07/2008 3:06 AM  

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