In order to arrive in Austin by the early afternoon, required an early morning flight: a 6 a.m. flight from Pearson to Dulles followed by an 8:43 a.m. flight from Dulles to Austin. Here’s the scene that greeted me when I arrived at Pearson at 4:30 a.m.:
The terminal was already quite full and the self-serve check-in machines were all out of commission. It was time to exercise every unfair advantage I had at my arsenal: a little schmoozing with the gatekeeper of the ticket line-up, Aeroplan Elite/Star Alliance Gold status from jetting about too much and a NEXUS pass, which cut down the US Customs Experience from a half-hour wait in a long line to 10 seconds at a kiosk.
I wish I could shower at 43,000 feet! I need to work on an excuse for Shopify to send me to Dubai:
I put the time I saved skipping check-in and customs lines to good use: some cereal, fruit, coffee and peace and quiet at the Air Canada lounge before descending into the madness of the “puddle jumper” waiting room.
Puddle-jumper ahoy! Gold status let me board the plane before the hoi polloi:
I spent most of the hour-and-a-half flight asleep. I woke up in time to shoot this picture on the approach to Dulles:
At Dulles, I transferred to an A319. I ended up in the second-last row, deep in United’s “Economy Minus” section. I’m only 5’11”, and note that my knees touch the seat ahead of me — and that’s when the person in front of me isn’t reclining!
I try to avoid United — they’re practically leading the crusade to destroy air travel, from stealing legroom to merging with Continental to create the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of crappy airlines to their recent web debacle — but there were no other reasonable flights available.
Alexis Ohanian, founder of Hipmunk, the hotel and flight-booking site that lets you sort flights by “agony”, was on my Dulles-to-Austin flight, in my row. “Were you going for maximum agony?” I quipped, to which he replied with a weak, very sleepy chuckle. We spent most of the flight unconscious.
A turbulent two and a half hours later, we arrived in Austin:
Freshbooks organized bus rides to take attendees from the airport to the Austin Convention Center and nearby hotels. These bus rides didn’t cost us any money; all we had to do was listen to a 30-second pitch for Freshbooks before the bus pulled away from the airport:
I hopped off the bus at the Convention Center, got my speaker’s badge and lunch and then headed to the condo that I’d rented via AirBnB. It’s really nice:
Our host even left some nice “Welcome to Austin and my home” stuff for us. Good thing I brought some good ol’ Canadian maple syrup as a hostess gift:
Here’s a view of the kitchen where we’re staying. I have got to get me a set-up like this:
And here’s the bedroom. Because I get more travel perks than most of my coworkers, when I share accommodations with them, I tend to give them the good place to sleep, to balance the scales a little. Besides, I can use all the karma I can get!
If you’d like to know more about the place I’m renting (and perhaps would like to rent it when you’re down in Austin), here’s its AirBnB listing.
Next: AirBnB etiquette, from a special guest blogger!