Tag Archives: airports

What’s Up with Airline Regulations??

So after the recent debacles with United and American, the government is getting heavy.  Finally, we are seeing the government recognizing that consolidation is creating an arrogance in service and in amenities.  After deregulation in 1978, industry charges like baggage fees and bumping passengers have been pretty much left to the airlines.  And 80% of USA domestic business is now in the frightening hands of four airlines. Power to the few and less power to the consumer.

Airlines claim that overbooking helps keep fares low and provides less risk so more choice for consumers.  Understood, but you have to be nice too!  Honestly, whoever comes off a plane and says that they had a fab and fun experience?  Now United are going to have to put their money where their mouth is.  Dragging a guy down the aisle sounds like a bad wedding arrangement.  It nearly cost them their business.  CEO Munoz stated that he is committed to making things better and now overbooking as a policy is going to be phased out.  Southwest, the darling of consumers, actually has the highest overbooking of any airline. They were just smarter and nicer about it.

We all get that overbooking creates more flexibility for airlines and lots take advantage of the compensation.  It doesn’t take much but being nice and being smart makes the difference.  Having a positive attitude and being customer friendly is key.  That’s all we ask for.  We are not cattle.

Travel Briefs 1: Airport Technology. Are You Using It?

Now airports are moving into food and drink technology.  Many airports have iPad ordering systems set up around bars and themed food restaurants.  The deal is that you sit down, swipe your credit card, choose items from the iPad menu, and then food or drinks come flying out at you from places that you had no idea.  Meanwhile, there are bartenders that you cannot order from and wait staff that appear randomly with your food in no apparent order.  The basic problem with that system is that it’s not that good.  Somebody has to keep coming in to manually assist and more often than not, the timing is all screwed up.  Sometimes you get wine when you should’ve received coffee, or pizza when you were looking for dessert.  It helps to pass the time and the idea is to simply centralize the operation center, but the problem is that it doesn’t work that well.

Oh, The Airport Woes

If you are going to get stuck at an airport and your flight is going to be endlessly delayed and possibly canceled, one word of advice, pray to God that you are not stuck at LaGuardia Airport.  It sucks.  Watching delays unfold and getting bad updates and then inevitable cancellations are frustrating and bring out the worst in all of us.  Airline staff is not helpful and nobody has a clue.  Usually, they point to a gate complaint line that is a mile long and have you wait there.  If you are really lucky, you get a snack voucher.  As for a hotel, dream on!     

What I never understand is why the airlines do not better prepare their staff for dealing with these situations.  At the airport, I saw queues and queues of people trying to get out and I thought how bad airlines deal with this stuff and yet this is where they should shine.  Stranded passengers, helpless passengers, simply giving soothing words and realistic directions and expectations on how to get out of the mess would be helpful.  It is always a drag to watch this debacle.  It could be so much better.  It’s as if they have no training on what happens when stuff goes wrong.  That’s the only time they have to worry and that’s when they can really overperform.  We know the airline food is bad, the seats are cramped, and the service in general on the plane is very average, so how about excelling at this?  Help passengers who are trying to figure out what to do, concentrate on the pre-boarding service, calm people, assure people, and take a genuine interest in getting people into a good frame of mind.  Maybe they should have yoga attendants at the gates helping passengers breath.  It’s a shame. This is an area where you don’t have to do much.  Just be service-oriented and kind.  Is that too much to ask?


What’s Your Favorite Airline for Domestic Travel?

Boarding a plane domestically is getting to be just as bad as reading a magazine during a dental surgery knowing that almost certainly what happens inside is not going to be good.

Given the fact that there are so many different elite statuses, and the airlines charge for bags that are checked, everybody is bringing their rollies on-board.  And of course, unless you get there first, you are not going to make the final cut and you will be sentenced to putting your bag in the hold of the plane.  Good news though, it’s at zero cost and the bag is unlikely to get lost on the conveyer belts at the originating airport.  Either way, it is a nightmare.  Whatever system is employed, it usually fails – back to front, elite status first, ready-set-go, it all creates a pretty awful customer experience as people push each other to grab those important marker spaces to throw their bags in the overhead bins.  Flight attendants are getting more diligent on where people are throwing their bags.  If you think you will be throwing your bag in the business part of the plane if you’re traveling in coach, think again.

So why is it that with all this confusion, Southwest Airlines, which has been operating the most basic system of all with no baggage surcharge if you check, is always considered the best system?  It’s random, there’s no class distinction, you just line up in rows with numbers allocated and you cannot move until they tell you.  And on the airplane, it’s a free for all so you choose your seat, have a nice day, and get over it.  It works and that’s the way it goes.  The domestic boarding experience is one of the most horrific experiences known in the airline industry and yet the glowing example of how to do it right is staring everybody in the face.

But Southwest Airlines, which sits at a comfortable number four in overall ranking for the best USA domestic airlines, is not where it wants to be in terms of overall ranking.  Number one for the fourth year in a row is Alaska Airlines, number two for the second year in a row is Delta, number three is Virgin America, and number four is Southwest.  Most people would probably guess that the worst airline out there would be Spirit Airlines but actually, Spirit beats out American Airlines coming in at number eight.  However, American is at least consistent and retains its stronghold and the prize for the worst airline for 2016.  It’s the worst in canceled flights, worst in tarmac delays, and worst in mishandled baggage.  While Spirit hangs down at the bottom for delays and complaints, you have to ask who would complain about a $25 ticket on a 1,000-mile route?  On the other hand, American is charging big bucks for crap service.  Get a load of this – American’s numbers actually improved over last year.  Alaska, which has just acquired Virgin America, looks like it will further improve its network and grab some of its strong points and push it over to what was its Virgin competitor.

While the overall performance of airlines is a lot better than it was a year ago, it’s good to know who you want to put your bag and your bet on.  Need we say more but the most punctual airline in the USA was the beloved Seattle-based Alaskan at 86% and the tardiest was Spirit at 74%.  So, the numbers are small and the differences are in the inches (leg room, on time performance, queuing up to get on the plane, etc.) but it does not take that much to look at who is best at what and adopt those practices throughout.  If Southwest has the best boarding, copy it.  If JetBlue has the best in-flight entertainment, emulate it.  If American cannot figure that out, then somewhere somebody better start changing the structure of the management rather than the structure of the plane.



Day Flight

The BA Day Flight

How I love that day flight.

You can work through the day on the plane, arrive looking roughly the same as when you left, and get to enjoy a great meal in London before you begin your journey.  Or better still, grab a hotel night at the incredibly convenient Sofitel that is situated at Terminal 5 at Heathrow.  This hotel is a dream especially if your onward connection the following day is on British Airways and therefore in Terminal 5.

British Airways operates day flights from New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Boston.

The flight time from Boston is 5 hours and 50 minutes and while it is not recommendable for people who are trying to save a hotel night by sleeping on an airplane seat, the difference in a healthy travel experience and a somewhat acceptable looking human being emerging from the plane is well worth it.  The great news is that during the summer months you can connect all the way through to Paris (if you are a BA fan) or to more exotic places like Palma in Mallorca (I’m a big fan).

Imagine – you depart Boston at 8:10 am, do some work, watch a movie, connect through to Paris, and by midnight you can be sitting down in a restaurant on the Boulevard Saint Germain, as I did in the Café Louise.

At that point it is still only 7pm in the evening on Boston time.  True confession: I am a secret addict of the day flight.

Bags of the Future (Are They Four Wheel Bags?)

I have a confession to make.

I switched from my Briggs and Riley two wheel 20-inch carry-on bag to one of the four wheel bags: the Samsonite spinner.  I made this move because I didn’t want to pull my bag around the airport when I could have it ride by my side in the four-wheel mode.  The four-wheel mode changed my life from zipping through airports to walking to train stations.  Everything became easier unless there was carpet.  Agghh.  Carpet is your enemy with the four-wheel bag.

Frankly, four wheel bags have a few issues.

On a trip from Tel Aviv to London, I was waiting in the jet way that has a little tilt to it, and somebody behind me asked a question.  I took my hand off of my bag, which also had my Tumi backpack perched on top, and as my hand left the bag, the bag took off.  I looked around in horror as a poor woman was attacked by my bag.  The heavy four-wheeler knocked her completely over.  I tried to hold her up but if that was not enough, her glasses flew off, her hands were flailing, her passport dropped on the floor, and my backpack finished the job as it landed straight on top of her head.  If I had been driving in traffic, I would have been arrested for failing to be in control of my vehicle.  As it was, I helped her back to a standing position feeling really embarrassed and told her that it was all my bag’s fault.  I felt a sense of shared responsibility.

These bags do roll around.  If you are in a train, they roll away from you, if you’re in the bus connecting around the airport, they are unreliable.  I figured to myself that there must be a bag that has brakes.  In the meantime, I had dusted off my Briggs and Riley bag and much to my bags surprise I gave it a second chance.  Yeah my arm is hurting me a little more but the danger of uncontrolled roll with the four-wheeler is not there.

So I did some research. The only bag that I could find that had the potential to not move in its standing position with spinner wheels is the unbelievably overpriced Rimowa luggage.  When I say overpriced, I mean the 21-inch multi-wheel bag is a cool $850.  Yes, I know that this provides “a sublime fusion of fashion and lightweight durability” plus apparently it has “intelligent interior design to make it an indispensable travel companion.” But the key feature here is that it has protective feet to guarantee that the suitcase will stay in place when you prop it up right.  No hit and run problems!

My only question is that when I buy a car with four-wheel drive, frankly it has brakes just like the two-wheel models.

Usually there is not an extra surcharge for brakes; it’s just part of the deal.

So why is it that for the added brakes and to look maybe like a movie star, I have to spend $850 on a piece of baggage that really has little interest for me beyond storage capability and ease of movement through an airport?  Just a question desperately looking for answers and remembering with horror the incident in the Tel Aviv airport when my four-wheel vehicle went out of control on the jet way.

TSA Woes

Pietro Place TSA Peter Jones

The news on the street is that summer is going to be a lot of fun when you are traveling around US airports. More fun than ever before actually and here’s the reason.

TSA have reduced their staff by 2,000 people.

So, those long lines that we already encounter are getting longer and longer.  Tempers will get testy and maybe the smiles on the TSA team will start to turn upside down.

So, what’s the deal?  In these tense days of super sensitivity on issues like security and safety, why cut back?  It seems that TSA thought that there would be such a massive uptake in the TSA Precheck approval applications, that they could save some resources for something else.  TSA approval is $85, so it seems that they saw an opportunity for revenue.  It is as simple, though, as putting in an application and scheduling an appointment.  If you already have Global Entry, you are automatically considered as part of TSA Precheck.  It means that you don’t have to remove clothing when going through a screening, nor remove your toiletries.  It’s a massive time saver because they have a line expedited especially for you.

So, what’s the problem?

People are just not signing up for it whether it’s a privacy issue, general laziness, the price, or just a lack of knowledge that it actually exists.

But now they are paying for…or rather we are paying for it if we don’t have TSA precheck.  My advice if you are traveling domestically this summer is to get with the program.  It’s one of the few things in life that is worth the price!

Images courtesy of http://blog.tsa.gov/2016/01/tsa-2015-year-in-review.html and https://www.myheritage.org/news/more-passengers-are-flying-tsa-free-and-thats-a-good-thing/

Distrito Federal Pietro Place Peter Jones

The 9AM Flight to Mexico City

Great news for Bostonians. AeroMexico has begun a nonstop flight to Mexico City four times per week.

With departures at a very civilized hour, New Englanders can escape the frigid temperatures and within six hours are in Mexico’s capital.  Formerly known solely as Distrito Federal (Mexico D.F.), the entire sprawl including the D.F. is officially called Mexico City although it is still quite trendy to say D.F.  Of course that’s what I’ve been calling it all the time.

AeroMexico has elected to leave its super Boeing 737-800 airplane on the JFK route and instead offers a pretty old and tired product to Bostonians.  I was in First class, if you can call it that.  The ticket was not that expensive…and it showed.  By the time that the disinterested flight attendant had reached the third row of first class seats, the hot meal was not available.  So it was all down to a yoghurt, soggy croissants and dreary fruit with cornflakes!  God knows what was going on behind in the economy seats but I bet sensible people in the back had stocked up before the flight.  I foolishly thought there would be something awful, but passable, and made an Airplane 101 mistake. It’s a simple rule of thumb really and I preach it all of the time.  But goddamnit I forgot!  Never, under any circumstances, eat the food on an airplane unless you are so desperately hungry that you would contemplate eating an old sock.

The video situation was no better. There were countless reruns of old TV shows that had long left our orbit to be sent to some other part of the world for regurgitation (including AeroMexico!).  But I jest as I was so happy to have a nonstop at my disposal on my doorstep to one of my favorite destinations.  I’ll take a bad seat, a tired meal, and a very disinterested flight attendant over many, many connections any day.


Trains vs. Planes

Trains vs. Planes

A too tight connection at JFK gave me the opportunity to change up my itinerary, grab a cab to Baltimore Grand Central Station, and take the Acela to Penn Station in New York.  I have to say, when you have the opportunity to ride on the train, it is just so much more civilized than flying.  Frighteningly, there is no security, which means you can arrive only 10 minutes (even less!) before the train pulls in.  And the trains are always on time….well nearly!

At Penn Station, I never quite understood how to make the transition out to JFK.  I arrived there and sought out some help.  Fighting the commuter traffic which was rushing between stations and platforms, I managed to connect to the Long Island Rail Road ($10) which sped me out to Jamaica.  At that point, I got off there and took the AirTrain ($5) straight to JFK.  I was at the Delta Terminal in no time at all.  Penn Station to the Delta Terminal was 40 minutes.  No traffic, no hassle, and so I wandered to the Delta Lounge, grabbed a bite, and a beer, and got ready for the nonstop to Barcelona.  Loved that day!

While I was getting ready for my flight, I started thinking about the benefits of nonstop flights.  I have to confess that a nonstop on an overnight journey is optimal.  In other words, if you gave me a chance to fly LA – Rome via London for a chance to get more airline miles on BA, I would say no contest.  I will take the nonstop all the way.  By the way, when can you ever use those miles anyway?  How about practically never unless you don’t work and are totally date flexible.  So taking the nonstop to Barcelona from JFK was a solid winner as opposed to connecting over Madrid out of Washington-Dulles.

Delta has improved dramatically over the two years. They are scoring up there with Jet Blue and Alaskan and have left their other erstwhile competitors in the dust. Wake up American!! The business configuration is better than most, the TV and movie selection is pretty good , and the food and service was fine.  On an overnight flight, I tend to get the food out of the way before I get on the plane.  Once the plane is in the air, I am all about taking some sleeping tablets to grab my five or six hours before we hit the European morning.  I must confess to never having breakfast on an airplane.  I would rather grab the extra hour and a coffee and croissant when I hit land.  Have you ever tasted airline coffee?  It is worse than hotel coffee and that is pretty bad!

Late Flight to Istanbul Pietro Place

A Late Flight to Istanbul

The great thing about flying on Turkish Airlines from Boston is that they have a very late flight at 11:40 pm.  In addition, if you are heading onwards to Tel Aviv, as I was, connections are pretty good.  Package that with a business class fare that is not one of those jaw dropping dreadful price points that make you wonder who ever pays for those flights at full fare, and you have it.  Dinner at a good restaurant in Boston and a late night flight departure is a great way to spend the first part of a transatlantic flight.  The preparation at least is going to be decent!

Turkish Airlines, as I found out, unfortunately did not have flat beds, but staff were pretty good, seats were decent for business class and the rest I simply can’t remember as I took an Ambien! Next stop was Istanbul about 9 hours later.  Istanbul is a funky airport.  Old bits shoved onto sleek new bits makes for a decent transit stop.  Tel Aviv was next on my journey and flight time wasn’t bad.  Actually, service on the Tel Aviv flight and leg room was better than the long transatlantic flight.  They must know we all take Ambien for the long hauls!

The End of Delays Pietro Place

The End of Delays?

The End of Delays Pietro Place

The End of Delays?

How about this for a nail biter?  To cut down on the inevitable airline delays, air traffic controllers are starting to use time instead of distance to space out airplanes.  While this doesn’t mean that the really silly game where they tell you that the flight takes an hour longer than it really does, and without that ridiculous announcement from the pilot that we have been “held up a little bit but will try and make the time up,” is going away, this is a good thing.

Incidentally, what is that “make the time up” thing? Is he going to fly 1,000 mph instead of the usual 650 mph?  How does that work?  Or is there a short cut from LA to Boston that I didn’t know about?  You know the deal…if you go over Memphis and catch the magic jet stream, it only takes two hours.  Nope.  Actually, they are working on reducing delay time in a smart way.  The idea is if you space airplanes by time instead of distance, you can actually optimize and improve timing for landings and take offs.

At Heathrow in London, they started to use this system.  Typically, planes are spaced three to seven miles behind each other depending on the airplane.  They have begun experimenting with minutes rather than miles.

The results are remarkable.  Most of the Europeans have already authorized air traffic to adopt time-based spacing by 2024.  The FAA is working to jump on the European band wagon.  Bottom line, what used to seem too close is no longer too close anymore.  Analytics and headwinds are all thrown into an algorithm and out pops spacing by minute.  Good news for everyone in the future although I am not quite sure how I feel about being that close to the jet in front of me.  In the meantime, don’t think that the announcement from the pilot stating,  “There are 18 planes in front of us but we should be set for takeoff in the next 30 minutes and with “luck” we should catch up to get you there on time,” are going away.  Incidentally, what’s the luck thing?  Yikes.

Alaska Airlines Pietro Place Peter Jones

The Revolution

The Revolution

You know that moment when some unbelievably smart person figured out that a suitcase with wheels actually could be turned so that the wheels went on the widest part not the narrowest part?  It was one of the great game changers in travel.  Then the bag moved to a 4-wheel option and you could maneuver your bag like a Mini Cooper through a city; holding it tight to your body but always upright in a busy airport.  Yet still, you have the hassle of either being the first person on the plane, paying the extra bucks for first class, or sweating that your bag is going to get dumped down below in the hold where you will have to “check and pay”.  The worst of all nightmares since you may never see the bag again. The cost of bag check-in on a budget flight can often be more than the flight itself.  Then there is that resentment of all of the people who got on before you that stuck their bags in the overhead bins.

Now there’s a solution and it’s a revolution. Overhead baggage compartments are being redesigned and refitted as we speak with a view to increasing the depth by a few more inches so that the bags can be pushed in vertically on their sides.  It is literally doubling the possibility for carry-on baggage.  Alaska Airlines is leading the way.  Partnering with Boeing, Alaska were the first people to understand that change was not just a good idea, but a necessary idea.  The sacrifice?  Two inches of head room.  There is even room on top of the bags to put tiny bags, coats, or you name it.  The time that it takes for an airline to be fully ready to fly and passengers to be comfortably seated with bags all set, is projected to greatly decrease.  In other words, departure times are going to improve!  Yay!  Tempers won’t get frayed (as much) and flight attendants won’t have to break the bad news to a disgruntled passenger who simply cannot bear the thought of checking in their bag.  All great news.

Now the re-fit begins.  Pretty soon there will be sleeping compartments up there too!

The Revolution Alaska Airlines Pietro Place Peter Jones

Basement Bargains Abroad

There is good news out there for international travel. The RyanAir, Southwest airline, Easy Jet model has moved into long haul. You get food of course, but instead of departing from a major hub like Boston, you fly from Providence and the price difference on a transatlantic flight to Germany can be over $1000.

No way! Yes!

And here’s the deal. If you think airlines you’ve never heard of, like Condor, are going to force British Airways or Lufthansa to change their fare structure, think again. The big guys are figuring that you don’t want to fly from an airport that’s 30 miles from where you originally wanted to fly to, even for bargain travel. And the chances are that you didn’t check the routing thoroughly enough on Expedia. If you want to fly from Boston to Frankfurt, that’s what you’re going to get, prices from Boston to Frankfurt. So you’ve got to be smart and outsmart the technology, which is going to auto-populate and drive you to the bigger hubs.

Furthermore, business class is cheap on these airlines; baggage fees are waived and the booze is still free. So drink up, enjoy the Euro and look for Condor expanding beyond Seattle, Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale and Baltimore. And in case you’re looking for nonstop from New York, Chicago or LA on second-tier airlines – good luck, you’re not going to find them. Happy Travels! Oh, and guess what, the secret’s out Condor is actually owned by Lufthansa.

How desirable is where you live, from an airline point of view?

There are hubs, and spokes, and then there are places that used to be hubs, but now are back waters. It’s not that where you live is not a desirable place but, from an airlines point of view, it’s a not a desirable place. Take Key West, for example; that seems pretty desirable. Who wouldn’t want to live there? Catch the sunsets, drink the tequila, and sit on the white sand while, in the distance, Cuba beckons. But 43% of Key West flights have been removed – disappeared, gone forever, along with Cleveland, Milwaukee, and La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The other day I was trying to fly from Boston to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Practically impossible. Not just difficult to get to, involving multiple stops, but over $600 round trip, compared to $300 round trip to Philadelphia. What’s happening?! Are airline executives angry about your bucolic country style living and just want to punish you? It’s all about shrinking flight schedules, boosting prices, consolidation. And none of it is good for us.

The truth is, it’s good for the airlines and the rental car companies. Smaller hubs have taken big hits and the smaller aircraft have been removed from the fleet. If you want to fly from Harrisburg to Boston, be prepared to pay top dollar and be inconvenienced with terrible connections. It can even be cheaper to take an Uber! It even encouraged me to drive the 6 hours, because by the time I rented the car from Philadelphia, it really provided me with no great benefit. This is the world of giant airlines; 8 have merged into 4. And smaller hubs have been removed or reduced down to practically nothing. The good news is that if you live in Seattle there are 25% more flights than there used to be. Westward ho!

The new world could mean a move back to cars (and trains if you’re lucky). Or just simply uprooting your entire hippy family from Key West, Florida and moving to midland Odessa, Texas, where there is a 20% increase in flights. That’s gonna be a great fit for you!

It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Practically every hub in Hawaii has increased service, which brings me back to Key West, Florida. It’s just simply too close to Miami for anybody but the rich and famous. And Orlando, as a megahub, shows increases across the board. Disney just beat out the sunsets.

Image credited to: http://www.barnabu.co.uk/

Oh, Airport Where Art Thou?

Oh Airport, where art thou?

The Automated Airport

As a frequent traveler I spend a lot of time passing through airports. I’ve noticed a trend and it’s alarming. The humans are disappearing!  In an airport there is increasingly no human contact.  Foreshadowed by the disappearance of the inbound customer service reps, airports are starting to do away with humans. Most of the time now it’s just you, the machine, a credit card or a passport; and those automatic check-in kiosks are for people who couldn’t or didn’t bother to check-in online. And forget the boarding pass. Printed boarding passes are passé.  Every airline (even budget carriers like Southwest) have a mobile boarding pass.  I still print out my boarding pass, by the way. Call me old-fashioned.

The check-in counters almost seem nostalgic now; an oasis for infrequent travelers to get reassurance that there are actual human beings running the show.  The only real reason to check-in with an actual human being is if you’re checking bags.

Baggage, we don’t need no stinkin’ baggage

Airlines seem to discourage it.  JetBlue has finally fallen and as of this month will now be charging fees to check bags.  Notably, only Southwest is remaining true to their “Bags Fly Free” mantra. Might make it worth not having assigned seat. Airfare watchdog is a great place to check to see how much it will cost you if you plan on doing something outlandish, like changing outfits during your travels.

So your first real human contact usually takes place at security. For some that means an actual pat down. Getting frisked in fluorescent lighting is never fun, so note to everybody, get TSA pre-approved.  This is like a VIP list for travelers and those on it get the luxury of keeping their shoes and belts on. Imagine that.

Once you’re through there, there’s no need for human interaction until you get on the plane, unless there’s a problem: you’re on stand-by, you’re late or you’re trying to move your seat or waiting for an upgrade. You now have to deal with…the Gate Keepers.

The Keepers of the Gate

These guys are important – they’re your only hope in most cases, and they know it. So it’s in your best interest to treat them kindly. A great article about gate attendants in WSJ really struck a chord with me the other day. It’s worth a read because it shows the behind-the-scenes of how gate agents juggle passenger requests.

People complain that the gatekeepers are hard, impersonal and tough to communicate with, but it’s not an easy gig. I have always found 100% of the time that the nicer you are, the better things turn out. These are the guys that control everything except the plane itself: the closing of the plane’s doors – you better hope you’re on the right side of it when they do! They can upgrade you, keep you where you are or frankly bump you off if the flight is oversold. Like Santa’s elves, they know who you are and they know how much you paid for your ticket.  Trying to negotiate a free upgrade on a ticket you got on Priceline is probably not going to happen. And copping an attitude with a cheap ticket and you could be left behind. In fact, you deserve to be left behind!  As we tell our kids all the time, attitude is everything.