By Adam Goldstein, President & COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD
One of the likely casualties of the rise of online communications is the travel disaster fueled by misinformation or no information at all. What a pity. I’m never likely to have another experience like the one I had in 1988 underneath Heathrow Airport when I was desperately racing through the tunnels in the direction of the flight I was late to make, only to encounter two Royal Caribbean colleagues racing madly towards me thinking the same flight was in the terminal from which I was running.
But fortunately not all travel snafus are born of information or lack thereof. Such as the time, also in 1988, when I mistakenly put both contact lenses in the same eye, and thinking I had lost one and would get a splitting headache (this was well before the advent of corrective laser surgery making one eye better on purpose!), threw out the one (actually, two) I had and tried to travel without being able to see. When it comes to travel embarrassment, there’s not much to top asking someone what terminal you’re in when you know you’re standing under a two foot high sign that says the terminal number. Yes, it does occur to me 26 years later that a spare pair of glasses might have come in handy in that moment.
Of course, international travelers will likely always be at the mercy of mechanicals or weather disrupting air travel arrangements particularly in places where you’re not exactly on the New York to Washington shuttle. For example, when you’re in Auckland, NZ, and the monitor says your flight to the U.S. is CANCELLED it’s not a good feeling, with all due respect to the friendly Kiwis. As an aside, that time we more than made up for the sting of the delay by returning to Honolulu on a flight that landed the day before it took off. Our little team resolved that no matter what the flight attendant offered us to eat we would say “I’m sorry we already had that tomorrow.”
A lot of the troubles and probably some of the magic of commercial travel have gone out of the world over the last 25 years. If you typically fly out on the first flight in the morning, if you fly Business or First class, if you’re at an advanced loyalty tier such as Executive Platinum on American Airlines, if you have access to an airline lounge for a longer layover, if you re-enter the U.S. via Global Entry, if you proceed through security via TSA Pre, if you have corporate travel support to help you virtually 24/7, if you can run fast when you are in danger of missing a connection, and if you absolutely, unconditionally never check luggage even if you’re going for three weeks to the Moon, chances are pretty good you won’t have too many interesting travel stories to tell.
Then again you never know. Maybe I’m just fortunate that diabolically screaming babies don’t bother me too much. Maybe it has been a year or two since I was on a transcontinental red-eye where it was impossible to sleep because the flight attendants spent the whole night loudly discussing the problems of their lives from six feet away. Or maybe I’m just lucky not to have recently run across the guy who once sat next to me on a flight who consumed three drinks before we took off and then when the food came, called the flight attendant to our seats and told her “I wouldn’t feed this piece of meat to my dog” before passing out for the rest of the flight.
This blog was originally published on LinkedIn.