This is Howard C. Park's blog. Interests: live music, simulations and modeling, languages, iPod, social and business networking, systems thinking, history of science, management, BBQ, trivia, good coffee, organizational learning, traveling, personal histories.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
en Route to Amsterdam
I've done international trips before, but this trip has a few firsts. My first to have 3 flight legs. First time to Africa.
This is a work-related flight, but since we are footing our own expenses, we had decided to fly coach. We made up for it by making arrangements to sit in the airline clubs between flights. I have some long layovers on this intinerary.
Outbound: EWR 2.0 hrs; AMS 4.5 hrs
Inbound: AMS 8.5 hrs
After a few calls and research on the internet, we identified the "rules" associated with our quest to be allowed into World Clubs.
Buy a one-year membership, and you have all the access you want. Nice, but expensive, and more than what we need.
One-day memberships are avaiable, but are not accepted internationally. Not an option for us, as most of the wait time will be in Amsterdam.
They have a 60-day membership that IS good internationally, but it must be purchased BEFORE arriving at the international location.
Houston does NOT have a World Club.
The plan was to arrive in Newark, make my way into the World Club, purchase a 60-day membership, then enjoy the membership in Newark for whatever time remained before I had to make my connection for Amsterdam. I arrive in Newark. I gather from the map that I am not in a terminal with a World Club. No problem. I leave the secure area, ride the tram to Terminal B. I call World Club and get info on the location of the club. When I arrive at the secuirty check-in, I see a line that would easily take 20 minutes to get through. The numbers don't work in my favor. I call World Club and explain my situation. "I need to get a World Club member before I leave the States, but I can't get to a World club and make it back for my connecting flight". "I can enroll you over the phone" she tells me. She has dealt with desparate travelers before."But how do I tell the folks in Amsterdam that I have a membership? Can they look me up?""The international lounges can't look you up, you have to show up with a membership ID."There's a pause as we both consider options.She responds, "I can fax you a letter of introduction with your name and membership # and fax it to Continental's President Club, which you'll have access to once you're enrolled."
"Can Continental look me up and see that I'm a member?" "Yes, the info is updated immediately, and you can enjoy benefits right away". "And I guess they have a fax machine there?" "They should, and I'll write the letter and fax it there". I give my credit card info and receive a World Club membership #. I punch it into my PDA as I exit the tram. At the entrance to the President's Club, I give my #, ID and boarding pass. I am allowed entrance. I ask about the fax #. "It's in the business center." The "business center" is one lonely fax machine, one or two copiers and some brochures. I see no instructions on the fax machine, no "my number is...." sticker, nothing. I pick up the phone and call my cell. "Please ring, please ring....". My cell phone finally vibrates with a New Jersey phone number. I call World Club again. I happen to get the same person who typed up the letter. "Thank you", I say as I read her the number. "I think that's it." "I'll send it now.""OK, I'm standing right by the fax machine."We wait. Please ring. I hear a ring, and I thank her again. She wishes me a nice flight. My letter arrives. I read it over, fold it up, and keep it with to my passport and boarding pass. I write this from the World Club in Amsterdam.