Travelogue: the miracle of technology

September 25, 2012

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In flight from SFO to MSP.* Can’t tweet about it, so I might as well write an overdue blog entry about something, anything.

And what’s on my mind at this moment, big surprise, is the travel part of the trip. This is the first time I’ve flown since June 2010. In the meantime, things have gotten all appified. I flew on United Airlines and with their iPhone app, I never even had to look at a counter or live person. You frequent fliers are probably sitting there thinking, aw, isn’t that cute, but I got a big kick out of tapping a few buttons on my iPhone and having everything magically taken care of. Just showing a QR code on your iPhone screen to the magic red hole at security and the gate? Come ON! And when I crammed all the California beer that I bought into my suitcase thus necessitating a checked bag, how convenient to order that up via the app, too. Okay, so I had to briefly visit a person at a counter to drop it off, but still.

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The car rental was very nearly as painless. Renting a car is something I never do. I’m going to say the last time was ten years ago, and that was only because my own (previous) car had trouble mid-trip and I had to leave it for service. Usually I embrace the local public transportation system (London, Chicago), but for this trip I had to get to a couple of inaccessible places on Saturday and Sunday. Anyway, the car rental process was very streamlined as well.

My only complaint about any of this is that the employees of these various companies process hundreds of people a day, probably, and it’s obvious they go on autopilot with what they’re saying which can make them a little difficult to understand, particularly if they have an accent.

Though I could easily have gotten between airport and hotel Thursday evening and this (Tuesday) morning on the train service, I drove. On my free days Friday and Monday, I took the Caltrain into San Francisco from San Carlos and yet again, it couldn’t have been easier.
Once in San Francisco, I got all excited and bought a day-pass for the MUNI and scratched off the date before I needed to use it, and then ended up not using it at all because I just walked and walked and walked. I regretted that had I comprehended better how it works, I could have saved it for Monday when I was back in San Francisco. But that day, I also just walked everywhere. I guess I don’t mind paying an extra $14 knowing I don’t have to stress out about a car in the city.

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So now I will soon be back home, where I’ll hop on Minneapolis’ own light rail line, which will deliver me mere blocks from my home.

Technology and public transportation, for the win!

Addendum: Today, three days after my return as I was bidding my coworker auf wiedersehen for her trip to Germany, I learned that she, too, was flying United. I promptly gave her a spiel about the app and sent her on her fröhlich way.

*As you may have guessed, I wrote this one before “I go out walking.” But “I go out walking” seemed more interesting a week ago, and it probably still is.

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