I fly Southwest Airlines every chance I get, but unfortunately they don't fly to every city I need to get to... yet. They are so efficient, and their rules make sense. No penalties for changing your flight (huge advantage for a business traveler) everyone gets two free bags so you don't waste time when you are boarding with people carrying huge bags and trying to stow them. Plus everyone always has a great attitude and they have never left me at the gate with a connection.
When I can't fly Southwest I fly Delta, mostly because of their purchase of Northwest I am almost a million miler which I keep thinking will get me better service but lately, not so much. For the third time this year Delta left me at the gate - twice when my connection was the last flight of the day - and every time I was there minutes before the flight was due to depart.
This last time though broke the record for customer service misses, and what was the most apparent was that their lack of interest in helping customers starts at the top.
I had a great meeting in Holland Michigan last week with ODL - an amazing company that is so forward thinking in their building products I'm always excited to see that they are working on. I am very conscious about getting the best rates for my travel so I can keep my expenses down for my clients, and in typical Delta logic it was almost $500.00 more to fly to Detroit instead of Kalamazoo even though to get to Kalamazoo I had to fly through Detroit. I was on the last flight going there and saw that weather was coming so I called Delta and offered to take an earlier flight so I didn't get stuck overnight in Detroit. To confirm ahead of time they wanted yet another $500.00 even though I was changing it the same day, but if I wanted to go standby they would charge me $50.00. All of this because I was worried about making it to my destination on the day I needed to get there.
I paid the $50.00, got on the earlier flight and was told I was confirmed on my connection but needed to wait for my seat assignment. That was fine, but when I got to Detroit the gate agent got miffed with me because I went up to the gate and asked her about it so she made sure that I had to wait and be the very last person to board - she even let non-rev people clear and board before I did. She made her point - don't ever ask a Delta gate agent for help. I did make it to my destination, had great meetings and thought it would be smooth sailing for the rest of my trip.
Wednesday was a rainy Michigan day and I arrived in plenty of time for my Kalamazoo flight and it showed being on time so I thought I'd be in great shape to get back to Dallas and make my meeting at 7am on Thursday to install 4 more Lifestylist Designed homes - I told you it was a busy week! We boarded the flight, door closed and we get that ominous announcement - Detroit was on ground hold so we would be sitting in Kalamazoo for at least 30 minutes. That's when I started to get nervous - I had about an hour between flights, and I was sitting in an exit row and looked over and saw some of the wall of the plane was missing and there were ropes and carribeaners sticking out. I brought it to the attention of the flight attendent who said it was nothing to worry about - it was just an old plane. Very comforting.
We finally took off and got to Detroit, and I had 40 minutes to make it to my Dallas flight which was in a completely different terminal, and at the end of that one. The flight attendant thought I was crazy to worry about the fact that I was worried about making my connection, and assured me that the other gate knew I was coming and would wait. Considering the Dallas flight was the last one that night and I had all of these people waiting for me first thing in the morning and flights had left without me twice this year I was worried. Then it took almost 10 minutes for someone to get a ramp up to us and let us depart, and as soon as I got off I started sprinting to my gate. After falling twice because I was running so fast and was terrified of not making it I arrived 6 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Door closed, not an agent in sight I started pounding on the door to let them know I was there. The plane was there and still connected to the ramp so there was no reason I couldn't get on except there wasn't an agent to let me on. The people by the plane saw and heard me, I stopped Delta agents and Red Coats (the Delta Customer Service Supervisors) but no one would get in touch with the agent to let me board. As I was banging on the door 3 more customers came up - all with the same story. They were on a delayed connection, promised that the plane would wait for them, and it was still before the departure time but we all watched as the plane pulled away and our hopes of making it to our destinations dimmed as the lights of the plane did. Irony? If the airport was on ground hold why wasn't this flight delayed like every other on in Detroit? They left from the gate early, and waited on the tarmac probably at least 15 minutes -minutes that could have been used to let us in the flight and to our destinations.
When the agent finally came out she said they were aware that all of us were coming, but Delta corporate in Atlanta made the decision to leave without us. What I found out later is that Delta is heck bent on improving their on time departure ratings so if that means leaving customers behind, that's the way it goes. The agent said there wasn't a thing she could do and that was that. I immediately asked for a red coat to help all of us and about 10 minutes later, red coat agent Cane sauntered up - obviously finding no urgency in our situation. he said that yes Atlanta was aware that this was the last flight and that we would all be stranded but they didn't want to "inconvenience" the other passengers. What that inconvenience would be I have no idea because they still would have made it to Dallas probably on time. If I was on that plane and asked if it was OK that we were delayed 5 minutes so others could get home I'd say absolutely -we road warriors are in this together.
I asked if there was any way we could get to or close to Dallas that night - connections, red eye flights, through Atlanta, and he said the best he could do was put us up in a hotel and get us on a flight we we would arrive at 9:46. I employ veterans that count on me to help them feed their families and pay their mortgages - by me arriving in Dallas around 10am, waiting for my luggage and arriving at The Home Idea Factory it would have been impossible to get to our jobsite in Tyler in time to get the 4 houses done that I had a commitment to the builder to complete in time for the home show that started the next day that he had spent thousands of dollars to be part of.Delta wasn't only making me lose money, they were costing everyone who I made promises to large amounts of money as well as hurting my credibility with my clients.
What really broke my heart though is when Don, one of the other passengers who was left behind started to tear up and told Cane that he was flying on a bereavement fare because he was traveling to a funeral of a family member and if he arrived at 9:46 he would miss the funeral of the loved one he was flying to. I again pleaded with Cane to find us a solution as he gave us our hotel and meal vouchers and a travel voucher (much less than what the flight cost me or what they would have charged me to change my flight to Detroit) and sent us on our way.
As I was walking to the Sky Club - another service I pay Delta dearly for - I walked past a Delta flight to Tulsa OK that had not left and would get us into Tulsa at 10pm which would give me option to drive the 5 hours to Dallas but at least I'd be there for my crew by 7am. I hobbled back to find Don (my knees were bleeding from when I fell) and we both got on the flight to Tulsa and managed to make it back to Dallas by morning. I got to chat to Don some and found out his wife died 10 days ago and her brother had a massive heart attack and passed away, and Don's kids and family members were waiting in Dallas so they could all mourn together. He said it meant so much to him that people made such an effort to attend his wife's funeral he was going to do what he could to to the same. It broke my heart that he was going through all of this, but I was thankful that I did make the effort and found a way to get him to his family.
Now the real irony - after finding a one way rental for over $300, driving until 4:30am, loading a truck full of 4 houses of furniture then driving 2 more hours to Tyler and staging these homes I wasn't too worried about my luggage - I was worried about honoring my commitments. When I finally got home and started trying to track down my luggage I learned that amazingly Delta managed to get my luggage on the flight that they wouldn't let me get on and it was waiting for me at DFW. When I asked for them to deliver it (it's an hours drive to DFW from my home and I couldn't think about driving another mile at that point) I was told that I missed my flight - it was my problem and I'd have to come and pick it up. When I asked for a supervisor they put me through to Aaron who proudly told me he was the Floor Manager of Baggage Operations at Delta Corporate in Atlanta and no matter who I talked to - even though by this point I was exhausted and crying - they would not deliver my bag. They were no exceptions as to why you miss a flight connection - it's your fault. After spending a few hours after I got some sleep the next day and trying to find a phone number for DFW baggage claim, a guardian angel named Connie in Dallas said she had my bag and why hadn't I picked it up? I told her the entire story and she said of course they would deliver my bag to me and got it heading my way within 30 minutes.
The moral of this long story? Customers have choices and our actions, attitudes and accountability will continue to affect who customers do business with. Don and I had two choices I found out later and did a little bit of research - there was the Tulsa option and there also happened to be a later Atlanta flight we could have been on, spent the night in Atlanta and gotten on the first flight out of Atlanta which would have gotten Don to his funeral in time and I would have been minutes instead of hours late for my client. Obviously Cane didn't even look or care.
Have you had problems like this flying with Delta or other airlines? Have there been some heroes who went above and beyond to help you get where you needed to be? We want to hear your stories and share them with other travelers here and on our Lifestylist Travel site. Email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll share the best and the worst to help you make better decisions in the future.
Through all of this I've become increasingly more aware that there are some really stellar, ethical bloggers out there that really know their stuff and share great information and then well... there are others. Today I noticed a tweet from someone I follow and respect - Courtney Price of Courtney Price Design and sure enough it was full of great information that every blogger needs to be aware of.
Her article on Copyright Issues for Bloggers shows how to do the right thing - she contacted Susan and William from the House of Brinson about an online class they gave on copyrights, got quotes and permission to use their photography and credited them in the article. Blogging should be about celebrating all of us - not just your own domain.
We teamed up at the beginning of our Lifestylist journey with Lisa Stewart of Lisa Stewart Photography so we would have the photos we need to tell our story with. I have a photography page at the top of my blog that credits her and states all photos are copyrighted.
Words to the wise: if you don't own the rights to a photo, got permission in writing to use it or took it yourself, don't use it. This is becoming an issue that more photographers and writers are taking seriously and winning in the battles that make it to court.
If you don't know if a term or service is trademarked you can go to the USPTO website, do a trademark search and anything that has been filed will be shown as well as who the owner is.
If you haven't discovered them already, be sure to visit The House of Brinson and Courtney Price Design to see examples of how to share ideas and make a house a home beautifully.
It's so hard to find companies that only make American Made products these days, but what's even rarer than that is a woman owned company that is over 20 years old and only sells American Made products.
Babette Holland was making beautiful furniture, vases, mirrors, and accessories in her Tribeca NY studio when the World Trade Center was hit only blocks from her. She has always been an advocate for animals and was a huge influence before and after for getting animals off the streets and into loving homes.
Shortly after that she was diagnosed with MS, but was worried about what the effect would be on her business if her clients and others knew she was struggling with this disease. She shared in her own words on our Lifestylist page what she has been going through, and how she has decided it is time for her to come forward and educate people about MS.
She has been honored by having her company included in the Martha Stewart American Made contest, and is close to winning but needs everyone's help to help her over the finish line.
Please visit the Martha Stewart page, enroll then you can vote up to 6 times a day until Sept. 22nd.
Someone like Babette never asks for help, so I'm thrilled for a change I can be the one to help her dreams come true!
Summer has always been one of my favorite times of the year, and when I was growing up, Summer always meant visiting my grandparents, cousins, and family at our family farm in Erie, Pennsylvania. I am so fortunate to have had a childhood where we could run wild and enjoy everything Summer has to offer. Visiting the farm meant catching pollywogs in the creek, eating wild raspberries as quickly as we could pick them, shucking corn and lima beans on the front porch, and our favorite part -heading to Waldameer at night to win prizes and be scared out of our minds on the rides. Our grandfather refused to take us one night for some reason so we embroidered "I am a Stinker" on his night shirt - I think that is one of the favorite memories for all of us.
Waldameer is still open on the shores of Lake Erie, - in fact it is the 10th oldest amusement park in the US. I was sure when I visited Erie again to start working on the newest Lifestylist® Designed community - The Hammocks at Millcreek if I visited Waldameer it would never be able to live up to my memories. Fortunately for me, it did.
My grandfather worked for the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad, so the trains were always one of our favorite rides when I was little. They are still there, and still have lots of happy kids riding them. The carousel is spectacular and since Waldameer first opened in 1896, the horses are probably some of the best examples you will find anywhere. I thought the park would feel small compared to the ones that are open today, but it's truly the perfect size.
I had to try the Ferris wheel and the Ravine II roller coaster, and I'm going to apologize here to the kids that got stuck riding with me. I felt their pain - if I had to ride with an "adult" I would have been bummed too, but they were very polite. The views at sunset from the Ferris wheel were spectacular -you had the sunset to your left, and great views of Presque Isle to your right. Lucky for me it had rained most of the day so the crowds weren't bad and the line was doable for the Ravine II roller coaster. This older wood beauty didn't look too bad - it couldn't possibly be as terrifying as I remember in my younger years. They wouldn't let me take my camera with me but I kept my phone - was was determined to take a Vine Video from start to finish. That great idea lasted less than a second - as soon as we started downward I started clutching to the safety bar and screaming like a girl. It was worse than I remember! The ravine might not look scary, but those jarring turns and bends will keep you at the edge of your seat.
No visit to Waldameer is complete without a turn at the bumper cars. My Aunt Julie is the biggest kid I know and she was ruthless when we rode this ride. I can't wait to take my grandkids to this treasure and to share my memories with them.
We love the Finger Lakes area of New York State, especially this time of year. While we were there last week working on some beautiful new Lifestylist® Designed Hammocks Communities we discovered the Walnut Hill Carriage and Driving Competition was happening in nearby Pittsford, so we had to go and check it out.
What an amazing opportunity, and a beautiful sport. We were charmed by the contestants, the horses, and the grace and elegance that surrounded the entire event. Another great reason to head to the Finger Lakes next August!
This Summer the Lifestylist has been on the road, and our last stop was in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Market. There were so many great new trends and products this market it was hard to choose, and for the first time I even visited the Gift section which is mainly products that are sold to retail stores.
People think that just because you can "buy wholesale" you are getting the best deal, but for many products the minimum amount you have to purchase makes it a better buy if you just purchase the products you want from a source like Amazon. With their Amazon Prime program I get free 2 day shipping, a 30 day free trial period and it's in my home without having to deal with traffic, sales people and impulse buys!
I was thrilled to find Field & Flowers Parfum Crema - Paper, Cotton & String Chapter
on Amazon after I discovered it at market -it was featured in the "First Look" seminar, and has also been featured in O Magazine so you know it's special!
What I loved about this is that it is a perfumed creme that you apply on your pulse points and it makes you feel like you are lying in a field of flowers. It's the best aromatherapy solution I've found for traveling, it it lasts for quite awhile. The other bonus if you are traveling with it is that since it's in a cream base you don't have to worry about a perfume bottle breaking in your luggage.
Thanks to Amazon I was able to come home and buy all of the Library of Flowers goodies I fell in love with without placing a huge minimum order -that's something to get excited about!
Today we are getting ready to attend Strike Out Domestic Violence for the Genesis Women's Shelter.
Courageous. This is the term I would use, for a woman I recently met through Genesis Women's Shelter. She had numerous fresh bruises on her face and arms, along with those that had started to heal, and were now a greenish color. As frightening as it was for her, she had the courage and strength to say "NO MORE", left her abusive relationship, and found safety at Genesis Women's Shelter. I ask that you please consider donating to Genesis Women's Shelter, so that we can not only educate and stop the violence before it starts, but if and when it does happen - those women and children have a safe place from their abuser. To donate towards this very important cause, visit our El Bowling Banditos donation page - photos to follow!
I travel a lot for business, and I really try to keep my expenses to a minimum. That includes driving if it’s less expensive, and as long as a hotel is clean and safe I’ll stay there. There are brands that I’m comfortable with, and others that I know better than to stay at. One that has always been great has let me down twice now in two different cities – one had dirty socks left in the corner by a previous guest, and today when I went to check in even though I had a reservation the manager said I could only have the room for one of the two days that I had reserved. Not the best way to start a business trip that I had a lot of responsibilities to my customers for, as well as their high expectations. I knew if I stayed there my mood wasn’t going to get any better.
I decided to cut my losses and went back down and told the manager that the room wasn’t acceptable, and got online and tried to find something else. I found something that was $20 more, but it was closer to where I needed to be, included a hot breakfast, and the room was clean with a fridge, microwave and work space. The picture on the left was the depressing room I passed on, and the room on the right is the La Quinta in Conroe that I was thrilled to find.
Next time I’m paying more attention to the reviews, and if the hotel doesn’t have pictures of the property and actual rooms I’m going to keep looking.
I was back in Moore and Oklahoma City Oklahoma this week - two months after the area was devastated by some of the most powerful tornadoes this country has ever seen. It was hard to believe that months had gone by - in many areas it looked like time had stood still but in other areas you could see that progress was being made. Hotels were still full of people with no home to go back to, and Walmart had lots of merchandise for OU students, but the Moore residents who had previously shopped at the store no longer had a home to store or use their purchases in. There were no lines, and very few cars in the parking lot.
As you can see though, some areas have been cleared and are ready for building to begin again -they are just waiting for the insurance claims to be settled and for a sign that someday they might be able to go back home. As a Lifestylist® I'm anxious to see what type of building materials and designs will be used when rebuilding the destroyed homes - will the homeowners want what they had, or are they ready for a new look and lifestyle? Time will tell how many people do rebuild or if they make a lifestyle change and decide to live somewhere else. What will tomorrows New American Home look like to these people who have been though so much?
Fortunately there were still lots of volunteers helping with cleanup and building storage sheds were homes had been providing those families with a new place to store their memories and to start building new ones.
Can you believe that school supplies are already showing up on the shelves at the stores? An important part of being a Lifestylist® is giving back to the community, and supporting Shared Housing and the important services they provide is something we always look forward to.
Shared Housing is a small under-funded group that helps provide housing to single parent families and and Seniors and one of the things that makes them very special is that once you are a part of the Shared Housing Family you are always invited to be a part of everything they do.
Their 2013-2014 School is Cool campaign has officially started! Our goal this year is to secure backpacks, supplies, uniforms and a pair of shoes for 300 of our current and former homeless children attending school. That means over 420 construction packages, 1000 packages of notebook paper, 1,565 folders with brads, crayons, pens, pencils and oh so much more! The Dallas Stars Hockey Team was very generous and provided the kids with these super cool backpacks last year giving our kids a fashionable start to the school year.
Would you consider becoming a friend of Shared Housing? Whether you write a check, go on-line to donate, or coordinate a supply drive at your offices, we need it all! So, please help us! You will feel great doing so and our children and their parents will be thankful for your support in getting them to school.
For a list of ways you can join the campaign and help or if you need additional information, please call them or email them at:
Shared Housing Center – 214-821-8510
Maria Machado – email@example.com
Pam Russell – firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you discovered Amazon Prime? I signed up awhile ago when I realized that Amazon was becoming a major source for this Lifestylist® - not only for book and music, but for hard to find items like glass doorknobs Prime-Line Products E 2536 Door Knob, Glass, 2-Inch Fluted, Satin Nickel Finish
and my new favorite for Summer, original formula Sea Breeze. Sea Breeze Facial Astringent, Original Formula, 10 OuncesInstead of driving all over the place to find a specific item (like Sea Breeze) I just went to Amazon and there it was - with choices!
I signed up for Amazon Prime because it gives me free unlimited 2 day shipping on most products. When I was working at my desk this weekend I discovered another great feature that came with my membership - I can watch over 40,000 videos and TV shows for free on my computer and other devices! Watching Hoarders while cleaning off my desk was a great incentive to let go of articles and clippings I've been holding onto for way to long.
I found a special deal that I'm sharing here - just click on the link below and you can get a 30 day free trial compliments of the Lifestylist! Give it a try and let us know what you think - it's been a huge cost and time saver for us.
Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 40,000 Movies