Thursday, August 27, 2009

15 Hours from Toronto to Charleston? Flying not Driving!

How can I travel all the way to Asia in July and have no issues with flights or luggage or anything, and then travel from Toronto to Charleston SC, and have more troubles than I have had in I don't know how long.

Hmmm... well here is the story.

My father and I were travelling from Toronto to Charleston SC. We were booked on a 10 am flight to Washington connecting to Charleston and arriving at 2:30 pm. United Airlines overbooked the flight to Washington.

They asked us to go to Chicago then to Charleston. They offered a $400 credit each and I asked for an upgrade to Business class (always negotiate - you never know what you can get when the airline messes up)

We arrive in Chicago with a 2 hour layover. We have a nice lunch at the bar, and then sit in the Business lounge. We check the board and our Chicago to Charleston flight is delayed. No worries - we have to be in Charleston for 7 pm. We should still make it on time.

We board the tiny United Express plane and sit there for 40 min with the door open. It is really hot, but can't close the door as apparently the anti-static strips are missing on the aircraft. That isn't good if we hit any type of electricity in the air - like lightening. And it's going to take 13 hours to fix it.

I run off the plane to the Red Carpet Lounge to book another flight. We get on a flight to Charlotte with a connection to Charleston. But we won't be there until 9 pm or so. And most likely without our checked luggage (I know before you remind me I should only take checked luggage - it wasn't possible on this trip for a variety of reasons).

So we have to make a claim with US airways as they transported us from Charlotte to Charleston. Even though it was United that lost our bags.

We walked wearily over to the taxi stand. We explained our situation to the taxi driver as he asked for our bags to put in the back. He was awesome and offered to stop at Walmart on our way to the hotel to get a few necessities - for no extra charge.

I left my house at 7 am that day. We arrived at the hotel at 10 pm, tired and we had missed our event at 7 pm. It took 15 hours from door to door. We could have driven in that time I think.

I have never taken so long to get somewhere so close....One note though, everyone we dealt with were quite nice. They were sympathetic and wanted to help.

My dad and I started our seminar out in the same clothes that we traveled in. It wasn't pretty :-(

Our take on the situation - Airlines are overbooking flights to be more "efficient" and cost cutting, and dealing with the consequences after the fact. If you ask me this is a poor business model.

It seems to be happening everywhere. All I posted on Facebook was "United Airlines suck" and I started a debate with others about US airlines. Hmmmm maybe it is time for the airlines to wake up and take a page out of other country's airlines. They don't seem to have the same issues overseas....

I think I will choose to travel internationally from now on. Well if I can.....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our Arrival in Macau and The Venetian Macau

Miles, Warren’s awesome Casino host was there waiting for us with a sign and a great big smile. It was awesome! He helped us with our bags and off to the Venetian Macau we went. Since we arrived in the Macau Ferry Terminal – on the main island of Macau we had to drive to the Cotai Strip where the Venetian is located.

On route we could see the MGM Macau and the Wynn, also the Sands and the Grand Lisboa. And of course the Macau Tower. We then crossed one of the really long causeway/bridges to the Cotai Strip.

The Cotai Strip is actually a newer area of Macau. It is on the Peninsula and is connected to mainland China. In fact from our room we could see China. Yes “we could see China from our room” tee hee.

As we approached the Venetian you could see the similarities to the Venetian in Las Vegas in the archetecture, but the shape of the hotel is different, also there are natural bodies of water and mountains around. Not to mention that there was only one other property open across the street from it. You could see the start of a "Las Vegas style" strip forming, but it is years off yet.

The Venetian Macau was completed in 2007 and is the same but different from the Venetian in Las Vegas. The same in that it “felt” like the Venetian, but didn’t always look like it. The rooms were the same and the Grand Canal Shoppes feel like the Venetian, but they were laid out differently and have many more shops.
Warren was excited to play as things are done differently here. And he loves playing baccarat with people from Asia... Well we certainly are in the right place!

We found that everyone was very friendly and the service is superb at the Venetian Macau. The other visitors, players and tourists found us interesting and were curious as to where we were from.

We went for a walk around the casino and Grand Canal Shoppes. I have never seen a property as big as the Venetian Macau. The casino is beautiful and well laid out. They did a good job of "making it hard to leave". I think the casino is about 4 times the size of a regular one.

Also the games are mixed differently than you would find in Las Vegas or other North American casinos. Most of the games are luck based, which coincides with Chinese culture. 70% of the tables are Baccaratt where as in North America only about 10% of table are. Also they love other luck based games like Sicbo, Carribbean Stud Poker and Roulette. In fact it was hard to find a blackjack table, there are only a few.

Unfortunately it is forbidden to take photos inside the casino so most of our pictures will be of the hotel and the Grand Canal Shoppes.

There are canals for gondola rides - 3 separate ones - and over 300 stores. It is the largest complex in Macau.
Check out more photos from Macau: