Monday, 16 April 2007

Flying headscratcher

I’m trying to figure out how to get a flight to a smaller airport with very little mainline jet service (and of course none that’s non-stop from St. Louis, as that would be too easy) in the next week or two. The ideal combination of flights for me is to go on Northwest and come back on either Continental or Delta; the most direct feasible return routing is on Continental. Despite the alleged codesharing alliance among these airlines, the following situation obtains:

  • Northwest will sell me* a ticket that goes on NW, Continental, or Delta, but only returns on NW or Continental, and at least one flight has to be on NW.
  • Continental will only sell me a ticket that is all on Continental, or a bizarre routing that backtracks from Cleveland to Detroit via Northwest.
  • Delta will sell me a ticket that leaves on NW or Delta and returns on NW or Delta; at least one flight has to be on NW.

All will sell me a roundtrip on their airline for about the same price, and Northwest and Delta will sell me a roundtrip using both for that price too, but the roundtrip involving Continental—which works best for my schedule—is $300 more, unless I do it all on Continental. Flying on Continental means all four flights are on regional jets, which admittedly is more fun for me on Continental’s ERJ-135/145s than on Northwest and Delta’s CRJs—but I’d rather be on a mainline jet than either.

On the other hand, I suppose life could be worse and I could not have these sorts of problems.

* I have to pay for the ticket, but I will get reimbursed—in theory at least.

Virginia Tech

I really don’t know what to say about the tragic events today at Virginia Tech, but Dean Dad’s reaction tracks with mine, by and large.

College campuses are incredibly vulnerable places. They’re open, they’re highly populated, they’re lightly patrolled (if at all), and they’re full of stressed-out people. In a way, they’re almost naive, if it’s possible for institutions to be naive. As I’ve mentioned before, they really aren’t built for easy lockdown modes. Most were built before that term was even coined.

Those awful ‘what if’s’ are always in the back of my mind. One of my committees is the group that tries students accused of plagiarism or other cheating. We set up the room so that we’re closer to the door than the student is, just in case. One of my colleagues has suggested to me, gently but clearly, that it might be a good idea to hide the pictures of my kids that I keep in my office – you just never know. (I haven’t, but I haven’t been able to shake the thought, either.)

Such situations are not unheard of in higher education—the infamous sniper in the tower at UT-Austin from years ago comes immediately to mind—but given the vulnerability of campuses and their tendency to attract some really creepy people (a few people I encountered in my life as a student spring immediately to mind; I haven’t seen it so much as a faculty member), it’s almost surprising stuff like this is as infrequent as it is.