Head in the clouds

December 8 2005

There are indeed days where I feel like my head is in the clouds, but yesterday it was quite literally so, and what a view.

Of course, I can't say what customer I was visiting in London's Canary Wharf, but this was the view out the conference room window.

 Image:Head in the clouds

It's not often I get distracted during a meeting seeing a cloud at eye level in peripheral vision (not in that picture, but it happened more than once).  Definitely a nice conference room setup.

Travel went extremely well during the entirety of my week away.  United Airlines customer service was top notch for both trans-Atlantic flights.  While I end up on American most often (with almost 2 million lifetime miles), UA has better food, better ground service for premium travelers, and their employees are just plain nicer than they were years ago.  I've said this a few times on the blog, but it bears repeating since the contrast between them and some of the other airlines is becoming quite stark.  Also good service on KLM and VLM (yes, VLM), who I flew yesterday into London City Airport.  I was the only passenger out of 50 on that flight who was a non-EU citizen...it seems VLM is a local secret.

So is London City Airport.  This was only my second time flying in there, but it was perfect for my travel to Canary Wharf.  Not so sure about the welcome committee, though.  The VLM flght was slightly delayed due to air traffic control, leaving me only a few minutes to get to my meeting.  Unfortunately, I wouldn't have enough time to try the brand new Docklands Light Rail connection to LCY.  Thus, off to the taxi queue.  

The driver asked me if I knew about the new train connection (which surprised me, since most cabbies resent trains replacing them).  I replied "yes, but my meeting starts in 15 minutes."  His grouchy response, "yes, well, I've been waiting here since 7 AM for a job."  The implication was that the 10 quid fare wasn't worth his bother.  Sorry mate, two days ago, you would have been happy to take that fare.

When we arrived at Canary Wharf, the fare was £10.80.  I gave him two ten pound notes.  He threw one of them back at me, saying he didn't want to be bothered making change.  Well, if his attitude at the start of the ride hadn't done it, this gesture sure did -- I was glad to be out of that ride.  Didn't realize we were in a world where a cabbie would quarrel with a decent fare, but what do I know.  Instead, I voted with my wallet -- and took the London Underground out to Heathrow after the meeting.

Also offering a shout-out to the Park Lane Hotel in London and the Holiday Inn in Amsterdam for great service.  The Park Lane is a Sheraton, and I've never had better Starwood Preferred benefits.  The Holiday Inn sent us to a fantastic restaurant for dinner on Monday (visaandeschelde, just near the RAI conference center) and handled a check-out mixup seamlessly.  Would that it would always work out that way.

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