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Tue, 31 May 2005

Maladjusted Bicycle Emporium now online - 17:52
So the shop I tend to frequent most often for all my cycling needs is the Maladjusted Bicycle Emporium, owned and run by a bloke named Mal (yes you can all laugh at the Punne in your own time <g>). Mal himself is not much of a computer person and has been avoiding anything to do with them for years, a few members of his staff and some of the distributors however have finally convinced him they needed a computer, with an Internet connection, in the shop. This means you can contact them via email or via their website.

Unlike some people who put something online, it is good to see some of the staff are putting an effort into the site to have some information up there about things they sell, prices, stuff they are doing, etc. Anyway this is simply a shameless attempt to give some google juice to a bike shop I like.

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Which airline are you? - 17:19
It appears today's blog meme is talking about Qantas and airline baggage handling problems. I may as well get in on the act, considering I have less posts this month than any other since I started the online diary it is not going to hurt or anything.

I personally disagree with Mike on Qantas and quite like them as an airline. Reasonable service, good facilities in their lounges or their partners lounges, when you consider the size of the Australian travel market and the deals that have to be done in order to fly routes in and out of various countries they cover a good number of international routes. Sure they throw their weight around a bit domestically trying to do monopolistic things some times, but all companies will do that.

The other part of the blog meme/discussion thing with Qantas and baggage handling is an interesting one. Sure airlines are involved in the baggage handling on and off their planes to some extent, but each airport does have a lot of influence and man power involved with the baggage handling. So baggage delivery problems can not always be blamed on the airline. I have never had bag delivery issues flying with Qantas, however I have with Air France and Air New Zealand.

Flying into Madrid in 2002, we had been booked on Qantas from Canberra through to Paris and Air France from Paris to Madrid. So Canberra to Sydney on Qantas was fine, Sydney to Singapore on Qantas was fine. Then in Singapore we were paged and asked to go see an Air France representative (our entire flight over was under Air France). They had overbooked the Air France flight from Singapore to Paris (Air France, like many of the US Airlines, still overbooks fairly heavily), so they had arranged to place us back on the Qantas plane (the one we flew from Sydney on) that would be arriving at Paris about 5 minutes later than the Air France flight (though at a different terminal) and they gave us 220 Euro's each for the trouble of arriving a few minutes later. (admittedly, as we were arriving at a different terminal they moved our connecting flight to Madrid from an hour after landing to one later in the day (4 hours later AFAIR)) All of this was good by our reckoning and we headed back toward the Qantas boarding gate. Only to be paged again, so back to the counter and we are told that, on top of the 220 Euros they would be upgrading us to Business Class on the Qantas flight for the inconvenience they caused us (oh the horror of being 5 minutes late). We were definitely pleased, this was to be the longest leg of the flight over, 14 hours in business class is not a bad thing.

So we arrived in Paris, got over to the Air France terminal and hopped on the plane to Madrid, Jane was informed of the delay and would be meeting us there at the later time. Upon arrival in Madrid neither my backpack or our Mother's suitcase were there. Some confusion with the changes of flights in Paris had caused the bags to stay there. Our bags eventually turned up and were delivered about 8 hours later to the place we were staying in Madrid that night. Now sure it was annoying not being able to shower and change clothes for 8 hours after being on the go for 32 hours, but with the bonuses we had already received for "inconveniences" I was not too upset. Also if we had the experience or foresight of Chris to pack a change of clothes in our carry on, none of this would have been particularly bad.

The bag late experience that had me a little more worried was Air New Zealand misplacing my bike bag on the way to New Zealand in June last year, there was a problem with the Qantas baggage handling ground staff in Sydney that day and a lot of flights were affected, mine among them, and my bike bag was not put on the plane I flew across to NZ on, my backpack was there so I had my clothes and all. However Heidi and I were starting a ride the next day on the South Island, and my bike was the almost new $4200 dual suspension mountain bike, definitely something to worry about. Fortunately Heidi and I were getting the morning ferry across to Picton the next day and my bike arrived at the airport on the flight from Sydney that arrived at Midnight so our travel was not messed up (it would have been far worse if we had been getting the Friday evening ferry across).

Now I do not recall what the exact cause of the Air France baggage handling problem was, but it is interesting to note it was a problem with the Sydney airport baggage handling system as a whole that affected flights for many airlines on the day of the Air New Zealand problem I experienced. Thus I suspect to some extent baggage handling problems can not be entirely blamed on the Airline.

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