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Tim Foolery

Home » 2019 » January (Page 2)

Monthly Archives: January 2019

Wait. Wrong Airport?

As we deplaned from our 10 economy flight from Houston, we had about four hours to kill at the Buenos Aires Airport We figured that we may be able to move to an earlier flight if we can make it through customs and immigration quickly. Well, that wasn’t going to happen.

Customs and Immigration

As we made our way to the checkpoint, we were herded into the foreigner line (rightly so), which had about 500 people ahead of us in line. With about six stations open, we knew we’d be here for a while. Luckily, I went to the bathroom before hopping in line.

Fast forward a little over an hour, it was our turn. I never know if we should go through the line together when entering a foreign country. We are married, but sometimes other countries don’t recognize same sex marriages and once, I had to go back into the line, which caused lots of people to think I was cutting. No issues in Buenos Aires though.

We grab our bags and head out to re-check and try for an earlier flight. As we check the big board, we don’t see our flight listed. We see flights to Mendoza, but not at our scheduled time and not many on our scheduled airline. My first thought was that there was a schedule change and we didn’t get notified. Or perhaps our LATAM flight was operated by someone that we hadn’t heard of before. We continued to ponder the big board and I grabbed our itinerary and found the problem.

A New Problem For Us

We were at the wrong airport. Instead of leaving from EZE (Ministro Pistarini International Airport) we were leaving from AEP (Aeroparque Jorge Newbery). This helps explain why the fine folks at United couldn’t check our bags all the way through to Mendoza. AEP is 43km (27 miles) from EZE, so it looks like we won’t be getting on an earlier flight, but we better get cracking if we don’t want to miss our current option.

We waited in the taxi queue for about 20 minutes, then another 25 for the taxi. At EZE you order a cab through a central dispatch, you are given a number and then eventually a driver shows up to transport you.

The ride to AEP was pretty uneventful and fast. It took us about 30 minutes, but the taxi was more like a fancy lawn mower than a car. Loud. Spewing fumes. Rickety. The driver was really nice and helped with our luggage and kept us safe among the other wild drivers. His car reminded me of an old roller skate – it’ll probably get you there, but a wheel could break off at any moment.

We arrived in plenty of time to make our flight, but there were absolutely no options for an earlier departure. So to kill time, we snagged a pizza in the food court, which was really great, by the way.

AEP - Aeroparque Jorge Newberry the Wrong Buenos Aires Airport
Wrong Buenos Aires Airport Pizza Lunch

Our best laid plans for an early transfer fell short today. As we waited to board the flight to Mendoza we remembered that we chose the flight with the long layover because it saved us about 75USD per person. If we had gone with the earlier option, we would have missed it – likely leaving us with more travel troubles.

Have you ever realized you were at the wrong Buenos Aires airport? How about the wrong airport in ANY city?

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Another Peloton Milestone: 350 Rides

Last week I crossed another major milestone on my Peloton cycling journey. Several months ago, I wrote about my first 200 rides, now I’ve crossed 350 rides. I decided to share some additional stats and some goals for the near future.

First off, my first 200 rides were made up of mostly 30 and 45 minute rides. I found it very hard to make the time to do 45 minute rides regularly. Notice I said “make the time” versus “find the time.” Fitness is all about pushing yourself to do it. My struggle was scheduling exercise. I feel better when I do it early, but I couldn’t consistently push myself to get up an hour earlier than normal just to ride. After work, I didn’t want to hurry home, ride then eat dinner later than normal. I had lots of excuses.

Starting in late October, I started riding twice a day. I found that doing a 20 minute ride in the morning before work was doable. Closing out the day with a 30 minute ride also wasn’t daunting – and I could eat at a reasonable hour.

So my 350 rides are quite varied. I’ve taken some 90 minute rides and some 10 minute rides, plus even some 5 minute rides. Those shorter ones are usually cool down rides.

I am a metric guy, so let’s take a look at some stats from my first 350 rides.

Peloton
Peloton
Peloton

My Next Goal

Now that I’ve passed 350 rides, my next goal is to hit 400 by my 40th birthday. At the time of write this post, I’ve actually ridden 365 rides. I’ve got 16 days until my birthday, which means I need to right more than 2 rides a day, which isn’t outside the norm. On the weekends, I’ve been trying to ride three times, so I’m not too stressed on this goal. My real goal is to time my 400 ride and my 40th birthday.

Do you ride with Peloton? Who is your favorite instructor? Are you one of those riders who believe that rides don’t count if they are less than 45 minutes? If you are a Peloton user, hit me up on the Leaderboard – my username is TimFoolery (obviously).

United Flight Houston to Buenos Aires (IAH – EZE) | Economy

Our upgrade to Buenos Aires didn’t clear, so we ended up paying more than we should have for an economy seat for the 10 hour flight. Using the Global Premier Upgrades has usually worked out for us, but not this time.

United operates a two-cabin Boeing 777 on this flight to Buenos Aires. The economy seats were in a 3-3-3 configuration. The Economy Plus seat was surprisingly comfortable. While not a lay flat seat, I had enough room to drop the tray table, and rest my head for a couple hours of decent sleep. I’m just about 6′ tall, so the pitch between seats was pretty good. Although I did have a bit of a stiff neck when I woke up.

United 777-200 Business Class
United 777-200 Business Class

Speaking of the tray table, the food on this flight was very mediocre. The meal was standard United Airlines Economy Class Food. Luckily, we grabbed a bite to eat in Houston at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. We figured the upgrades wouldn’t clear and even if they did we were pretty sure the food would be disappointing. We planned perfectly here.

Crab Cocktail at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen Houston Airport
Crab Cocktail at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen Houston Airport

We’ve been fortunate enough to have our upgrades clear – or just book Business Class with miles – fly business class for flights this long. While it sure wasn’t an ideal travel experience, it was good for us to fly Economy. It helped remind us that it isn’t really all that bad.

We landed a few minutes early and made the way through customs, which was quite heinous. The line was well over an hour long. This just goes to show how spoiled I’ve gotten with Global Entry. Clearing Customs and Immigration we grabbed our checked luggage and made our way to our connecting flight. Our layover in Buenos Aires was nearly four hours. We planned on hopping on an earlier flight to Mendoza…or so we thought…

Flight Planning: Argentina

We had so much planning to do for our trip to Argentina. First things first: Getting There. Our Argentina Flight Planning followed our standard logic. Do we use miles and fly Business Class? Maybe we pay for Business Class? Do we pay for Economy and just deal with it? Or do we pay for a higher fare in Economy and use our Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) to upgrade to Business?

Our Plan

Since we both needed the Elite Qualifying Miles to keep our status with United we knew that we couldn’t cash in miles for this trip. We earn nearly 12,000 premier qualifying miles for this round trip from Chicago. We couldn’t let those miles go to waste. When we flew to Lima, we found round trip Business Class tickets for about $1,800 per person. If we could find something like that for this trip, we’d book it in an instant. Unfortunately all Business Class tickets were going for well over $5K each. The only way I’d pay that much money for a flight is to hurry home to someone’s deathbed or to flee the country with no notice to avoid a criminal indictment.

Flight Planning Argentina
No direct flight to Buenos Aires from Chicago, so we routed through Houston and Newark.

The difference between the upgradable Economy Fare and the normal Economy Fare was about $200 more per person. Basically, we’d pay $200 more for the opportunity to use our GPUs. If the upgrades didn’t clear, we’re out that money.

United 777-200 Business Class
United 777-200 Business Class

We followed this same logic as we booked our tickets to Rio in 2017. We booked airfare about eight months out and the upgrade cleared about a month later. Figuring that Argentina wasn’t a huge Thanksgiving destination, we thought this was our best bet.

The days, weeks and moths passed. No upgrade. We had some flight schedule changes, still no upgrades. We chatted up the fine folks at United and they couldn’t do anything, but tell us that they were pretty sure we’d clear.

The Results

Finally, it’s day of travel. We checked in and our upgrade still hadn’t cleared. We kept refreshing the upgrade list. The frustration set in. We’d paid extra money to sit in the same old Economy Seats for nearly three hours to Houston and 10 hours to Buenos Aires.

Fast forward to the return trip. The exact same scenario played out. We watched the list. Our names hovered towards the top of the list, but never crossed that magic threshold. Once we checked in at the airport, we were notified that our upgrades had cleared – for the leg between Newark and Chicago. Of the 26 hours of flying time with United we’d have on this trip, two of those hours would be in Business Class.

I’ll touch on a couple of the details on these flights later on, but at the end of the day, these flights were fine. We arrived safely. The United crew was a good mix of fun and surly, mostly surly. While our Argentina Flight Planning didn’t end up exactly as we wanted, we did have a pretty great trip.

Do you follow the same logic as we do when determining how to get somewhere?

A Dry and Vegetarian January

January 2019 marks the sixth year that I’ve chosen to have a DRY January and the fourth where I’ve given up meat. A Dry and Vegetarian January has become a standard for me. I don’t give up meat and booze for any particular reason – mostly just to reset and be more mindful of what I consume.

Cocktail
A smokey cocktail is great, but not in January. No booze for me!

Losing wait is not my goal (although that would be a nice benefit). I don’t even end up being all that much healthier as we eat more cheese than usual. After all the parties in the fall, I do find the booze-free aspect to be refreshing.

Fall is a big season for non-profit events in Chicago, plus all the heavy work dinners, conferences and holiday parties. At a certain point, a guy just needs to take a step back.

How I started this trek

I started off with booze-free January when a friend leaned over, at a New Year’s Eve event, and asked:

Friend: Tim, do you think you could go all of January without a drink?

Me: Of course. I don’t even think it would be that hard. Do you?

Friend: Uh. No. I don’t think I could. In all seriousness, I don’t.

Me: Well then, you and I must have a dry month. If you can’t stop, you need to.

I woke up on New Year’s Day, with a hangover, and skipped the booze of brunch. A few days passed and I called my friend who was on the booze diet, asking how she was faring. She said she couldn’t make it through the first day. Trying again on the second day, she failed. She made it through the third day, but split a bottle of wine on the fourth.

Each year, at the same New Year’s Party, she commits to having a dry January and each year she fails. She fails within the first few days.

I continue to plug through each January without booze and without meat (although, I will have a piece of fish or shellfish a few times a month). The booze never really crosses my mind (unless it is a miserably cold winter day and we are sitting by the fire – I just want a glass of wine then). I don’t think about the booze. I don’t think about the meat. My life continues as normal.

The Results

Ultimately, I do feel better at the end of January, but I’m not sure if that is because of improved health or a sense of superiority because I made it through the month.

Do you give up anything to start the new year? Have you tried to abstain but failed? What advice do you have for fellow quitters?