Thursday, February 24, 2011

Travel Tip

Frequent air travelers may already have figured this one out, but this has proved helpful to me. I hope it will be helpful to you.

Advice on what to do when you are at the airport and discover your flight has been delayed:

It has been my experience that airlines representatives will avoid direct lying, but may not always tell the truth (exactly) and often not the whole truth (especially not in announcements). So the challenge is to figure out what are the right questions to ask. Questions that will compel them to deliver real information (Vs whatever they need to do to keep everyone calm).

So if there's a delay, start with the question:

- Is the equipment in? (that is, is the plane assigned to fly you out actually here). This is especially important when there are weather issues.

If it is not, where is it coming from? Has it taken off? If not, why not, are planes taking off from that airport? How long does it take to get here from there? Have there been delays landing at your airport.

If it is in, why is there a delay?

- Is it mechanical (what is wrong, what is happening, any time estimate? is there an alternative plane available if it doesn't get fixed? Is there an alternative flight available if it doesn't get fixed?)

If it is not mechanical, what is it? Are all the crew here? If not, where are they coming from? When will they likely arrive? This usually doesn't come into play unless a plan is delayed a long time & at a late hour, but crews can "expire" or time out. They are legally mandated not to work for more than a certain number of hours. Once thunderstorms kept all planes grounded for hours until quite late at night. Planes had to wait for a certain amount of time after any lightning event and there came a point that a couple of members of the crew would simply time out. There were no replacements available at that point, so the flight would be cancelled & we'd all have to go home & come back the next day. We squeaked in, but it's worth asking about the crew if you've had a long delay & need to get a clearer picture of the variables to make plans.

My eye opening experience was once when I was flying out of Toronto, and the plane was delayed.

- Airline: board indicates flight is 1/2 hour delayed. It's winter and there is "weather."

- Me to airline representative behind gate: why is it delayed? Is the equipment in?

- Airline: Equipment coming in was delayed, but is due in shortly & we'll turn it around quickly.

- Me: Where is it coming from?

- Airline: (pause) I'll have to check..... Chicago.

- Me: Thanks--but isn't the weather coming from Chicago? Has it taken off yet?

- Airline: (pause) I'll have to check..... No it is still on the runway.

- Me: Oh. Thanks. Are any flights taking off from Chicago right now?

- Airline: (pause) I'll have to check....yes, they have just started flying out of Chicago.

- Me: Do you know where it is in line for take off?

- Airline: I don't know, but it's on the runway, not at the gate, so it's in line (a bit long-suffering at this point).

- Me: Great! Once it takes off, how long a flight is it from Chicago?

- Airline: A little over an hour.

- Me: And then it's about 1/2 hour to turn the plane around, right?

- Airline: Yes (a bit terse).

- Me: So with waiting for take off, travel time and turnaround time, it doesn't look like the 1/2 hour late on the board is likely to happen, more like 2 hours if we're lucky, right?

- Airline: (surly) Yes.

- Me: Thanks. Guess I'll go get something to eat....

And remember, don't kill the messenger. They are a key player in helping you, so alienating them by venting is not only not fair, it is not in your best interest.

So the moral of this story (and so many others) is:

What questions should you be asking?


Selena Blake said...

> What questions should you be asking?

An excellent question! I obviously don't fly enough to be bothered by delays. Come to think of it, I don't think any flight I've ever been on has been delayed. Lucky me!

But, if you want a question, mine is: should an author mention her self publishing credentials in a query letter? What if her sales are over 20,000 copies in two months? Is that worth mentioning or would the be a bad thing?

Okay, so that's three questions. :)

Isabel Swift said...

Selena, selling over 20,000 copies in 2 months seems pretty impressive to me, congratulations! It would seem to me that the positive aspects of successful self publishing would be that it demonstrates that the author had a clear vision, could complete a project, was able to market it successfully and reach an audience. All powerful and positive achievements.

Elements that might concern a publisher would be if the area/direction of the self publishing success was problematic for their goals. I can't think of much that would be a problem, but something like self-published porn combined with a goal to break into the religious market :)! Also the issue of bringing reasonable expectations to the table in terms of what each party would and could do for each other.

Everything has pros and cons--the question is whether a viable partnership is feasible.

Thanks for commenting & hope that helps!

Selena Blake said...

Thanks for answering. I agree with what you said, most importantly that working with a publisher should be beneficial to both of us. I can definitely see the problem with a self published porn writer trying to sell to a religious publisher, using her current platform and readership as a selling point! Wouldn't that raise a few eyebrows? :-)

So what I'm taking away from this is it's okay to mention self publishing credits in your query if you honestly feel it supports your case and shows the publisher that you have a built in audience for their/your books.

Isabel Swift said...

Selena, yes, exactly. My example was a bit exaggerated (!) but you got the point.

If your self publishing project is similar to what you're aiming to get published, there are potential direct synergies. Positives are the ability to tell a great story that will appeal to a market. But even if your self-publishing project isn't in the same field, it can still demonstrate your commitment and marketing savvy. Many publishers don't have the resources to support every title, so an author that can help them build a readership is very helpful.

But remember with self-publishing, you can call most of the available shots. With publishing, it's a partnership. The reach may be broader, but you will not "own" the process or the product in the same way. That can be fabulous, but not without challenges!

In sum, yes, fine to mention self-publishing. Focus on the aspects of the experience you think will be positive and relevant to them, and share what you hope to get out of this new experience.

The previous "stigma" of self publishing is being erased by the new opportunities that self-publishing offers and how all kinds of creative artists are experimenting with the accessibility of the medium.