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Comment Re: YES (Score 1) 313

I don't think they even looked for an excuse - they were having trouble getting any plane at all. The first plane (already the smaller one) was MX'd out at the beginning of the day to the extent that they couldn't even tow it from the gate. They after a bunch of gate drama they managed to get a plane and a gate at the same time and it left about 25 minutes late.

Comment Re:Yes, all airlines have been doing this forever (Score 1) 313

I've done this many times. Usually at the end of a vacation where I have some slack and I'm in no hurry to get back to work. I've never had work even close to rigid enough that I couldn't just send an email "Got bumped, will be back a couple days late, call/email if there's anything urgent". In some cases it's when I'm going to spend the night at home no matter which end of the trip I'm on (either parents home at holidays or partners home when I was bicoastal.) It's not that different than weather delays, which happen all the time at the holidays. As soon as they're having weather and my flights look questionable (you can track your aircraft several legs prior to your flight with FlightAware), I'll get on the phone and ask them for alternatives that are convenient for me. It's generally easy to get them to make a free change that relieves them of having to deal with an extra body screaming for a flight while sitting on the couch eating cookies and watching netflix (and arranging for a few extra days of that).

There are other times when there's no way I'm going to take a voucher (coming home on the third transcon RT in three weeks, all of which were on less than 24 hours notice and were 12-14 hour days at the working end. On those flights I'm going to buy the upgrade to first when they offer it at check-in!)

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 1) 313

IF they book EVERY SEAT, then the seat, ***even if unused*** IS STILL PAID FOR.

Not if they sell refundable or changeable tickets. Every seat is paid for until suddenly someone goes online and makes a change and it's not. If they do that close to departure time then the airline risks the seat going out empty, which is essentially product spoilage for them. So they overbook, counting on a certain fraction of travelers to change their plans at the last minute and have the plane go out exactly full.

The typical counterargument is "well, they should just make tickets non-refundable within X hours of departure", except that their reliable customers are business customers who like the flexibility and are willing to pay for expensive refundable tickets, expensive last-minute tickets, and change fees if they're buying non-refundables. The excess that those customers are willing to pay for the flexibility more than compensates for what they have to bid for one of 75 or more people to take a $200-$400 voucher to accept VDB. So they can sell tickets to business travelers right up til departure on most flights, counting on the ability to get someone to take a voucher in return for accepting a later flight.

Comment Re:No show? (Score 1) 313

Happens all the time. Meetings get canceled or rescheduled. Incoming leg gets delayed and they misconnect. Also, changes to tickets have the same effect if done in the last week or two when it will be difficult to resell the seat.

Last week or two? I think about 90% of my tickets for work travel in the past 10 years were booked less than a week out, and I regularly change flights within 24 hours before the flight, often after check-in, for reasons that many others have listed.

Comment Re:No shit Sherlock? (Score 1) 313

If there were demand for 1000, the airline would add more flights. It's the case where there's demand for a fractional extra flight that things get tricky.

Adding flights in a busy airport can be non-trivial. They are often constrained in takeoff, landing, and gate slots and can't simply add flights without several years of politics and infrastructure improvements.

Comment Re: YES (Score 1) 313

In the old days, it was a free round trip ticket to anywhere - but like most things that fly out of airports, it's been getting worse as time goes on. The last one I volunteered for was a $100 travel discount... that's hitting my threshold for "no thanks."

UA was offering $800 vouchers on a flight that I was on earlier this week because they'd downgauged to a smaller aircraft and needed to get rid of 14 or so people. As far as I can tell, they did. Whenever I've been on flights with people getting IDB'd they call them to the podium at boarding time. Once they announced $800 they seemed to have no shortage of volunteers (they probably threw in hotel, too). They couldn't offer a seat til the next day, and I wasn't interested in waiting around that long or renting a car one-way, so I declined and took the flight as planned. There are plenty of other times I might have taken that much (and have in the past). Back in the 80s and 90s when I took VDB I ran about 50% on getting first class on the new flight.

Comment Re: YES (Score 1) 313

When traveling for work it's pretty routine for me to change either my outbound or return flight or both *after I've already checked in*.

Schedules change- "The test is running ahead of schedule - we need you there tomorrow morning instead of three days from now" or "something broke, you're not needed til next week" as I'm about to head to the airport. The same thing happens on returns - I might slip my return day-for-day as some part of a test gets delayed or runs long. It's perfectly reasonable to me that they're overbooking to compensate for such behavior (I'm hardly close to the only one). Such behavior also gets compensated by me and similar people finishing work early and not waiting the extra day or whatever to fly home, but changing to get on the next flight that's easy to make and will leave/arrive at reasonable times.

Comment Re: YES (Score 1) 313

I did this on a much smaller scale for a short time. I flew at christmas for three consecutive years on a single purchased America West ticket. Each of the first two years I was on an overbooked flight at some point in my itinerary and took the voucher. In one case I was coming down with the flu and simply showed up at check-in and asked if they were overbooked. They were and happily handed me a voucher and rebooked me for a few days out and I went back to my mom's house and took a couple days getting over it before I flew home.

Comment Re:Only a matter of time (Score 1) 207

The powder comes to $2 for a 500 calorie meal full of vitamins and minerals. I can't imagine how you could prepare a meal with the same nutritional value for less than that.

Noodles (ramen or otherwise) with chopped mixed vegetables. Cheap, tastes good, and nutritious. All it takes is some boiling water and a minute or two of chopping. Soylent gets about half its calories from fat, which is way too much.

fresh bread is extremely easy to make and doesn't have to be labor intensive (18 hour, no-knead). Also very tasty.

Comment Re:So glad I don't work with her (Score 3, Interesting) 290

What takes 10 minutes to say in voicemail can probably be read in 1 or so, and more easily referred back to.

My employer started doing video documentation instead of written documentation for in-house tools and classes and it's extremely irritating - it's a population of very well educated people who are used to reading large volumes of technical information for detail and digesting it, so they started distributing information in the lowest bandwidth, least random-access way they could think of.

Comment Re:Are these really drones? (Score 3, Informative) 170

Surveying the fires is generally done from high altitude fixed wing aircraft unless it's a small fire and one or two helos with buckets spotting and dumping on their own. Your post indicates that you don't know what the firefighting aircraft are doing-- most of them are not scouting the fire or looking for trapped people, they're carrying 500-1000 gallons (or more for the skycranes and fixed wings) of water and fire retardant and doing precision drops. I've watched a pumper truck park near my house with an inflatable pool and supply two helos with water to knock out a ~5 acre fire on a steep mountainside that would have taken hours to get handcrews to, and been impossible to get a truck to. They completely knocked out the fire with no people on the ground within a mile of it.

As for scouting for people - if you're in a wildland fire and aren't by a road, you're pretty much SOL. The best they'd be able to do is drop water on you (which they'd do) if they see you at all, but you're not getting picked up til it burns past unless you're well away from the fire. They get people out by filling the neighborhood with fire equipment and telling people to leave. The drones in the air don't stop the firefighters on the ground, but they do stop the air support they depend on. There are 28 helos and probably a half-dozen fixed wing aircraft assigned to the Sand fire right now - they do water and fire retardant drops to support the ground crews, especially in areas that are difficult or dangerous for the hand crews to get to, and might have restricted escape routes.

Comment Re:Are these really drones? (Score 1) 170

You haven't been around a brush fire at the urban/wildland interface. It's very common for there to be fire right up close to a neighborhood that's still full of people, or just far enough and with favorable winds that they aren't forcing people to evacuate but you could easily pilot a drone from your backyard. I've got co-workers who were in their backyards while firefighters were setting backfires from their yard. So there can easily be hoards of non-emergency personnel within range of a large drone. There was just an article in the paper about a guy who got caught because he posted fire video from his drone. And there aren't always high winds- part of why the Station fire in 2009 was so bad was that it wasn't windy and it slowly burned through and set all the trees on fire, too, instead of just the undergrowth.

Most firefighting aircraft around SoCal are helicopters. They're easier to maneuver around in the narrow canyons and steep mountains. They do bring in fixed wing aircraft for the big fires, but they don't have nearly the precision of the helos. LA City and County also flight firefighting helos at night (Forest Service still doesn't, and I don't think CalFire does), and a drone could be very hard for them to spot.

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