Monday, May 18, 2015

Ballad of the Air Canada Strap-on Pillow Seats








Day 0 - part 1

Sometimes I go to Vegas with no more of a plan than the necessary reservations - air, limo, hotel, rental car - and that's it. The days can kind of run together in a horrible mindless orgy of gambling, impulsive food choices, drinking... the kind of pathetic hand-to-mouth gimme gimme conspicuous consumption that a two year old faces when presented with the 'treasure chest' of suckers at Chuck E. Cheese. It's really fantastic but I often find such trips leave me with the feeling that I left a lot of opportunities behind, left some stones unturned.

Hopefully they weren't lucky stones.

But other times, I find it works better if I sketch out an itinerary. Few of us want to follow an hour by hour highly detailed itinerary (although I know of some who do this) but what works for me is a high level view. I pick out some restaurants I want to try, some activities I want to do, and some experiences I want to have. I leave lots of room for juggling. Having a few reminders of things I wanted to accomplish causes me to actually do them and leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction when the trip is done, relieved that I didn't just spend 14 hours a day plopped in front of a video poker screen. Not that that is such a bad thing. But I remember some early trips where we didn't even leave Luxor for 6 days straight. Didn’t even leave the pyramid! And when that was over I had a feeling I'd missed seeing ‘a few things’.

The plan looks like this.

Air travel is completely on points so I'm saving $600 or $700 or even $900 (or maybe $800, or maybe $750, or $550 on a really good day for ticket prices) right off the bat. The flight out is on our old friend, the Roudge branch of Air FU Canada. Unfortunately, with AeroFU-plan points you get very little choice, especially when you include the prop-job puddle jumper flight from Flusherville Regional Aerodrome to Toronto. And on AirFUCanada, the only way to get a direct flight to Vegas from T.O. is to take what is know by Air Canada insiders as the 'slave ship' - Roudge.

To mitigate the slave ship flight out, I bought a $40 upgrade to Roudge Slave Ship Plus, which gets me a 1.765 inch increase in legroom, and puts me closer to the front of the plane, which is important when you arrive in Vegas and just want to get your gamble on!

Because I'm on points, the only way you can get back from Vegas to YYZ and then Flusherville is to take a red-eye. And because Flusher is 'flight savvy', he books the trips as one way tickets. Why? So that he can book the red-eye return in Premium Slave Ship Roudge (the equivelant to business class, except that on Roudge, the amenities are not free drinks, free meals, frivolous entertainment choices and (rumor has it) an outside chance of a handjob - no, on Roudge it means that you get a plastic glass of Hi-C apple juice, some used foam earplugs to drown out the screams from the peon class aft, and a clean Depends all to yourself). With this plan, Flusher (as he refers to himself when employing the third person) can probably grab some sleep on the red-eye slave ship, and it will be just a little more civilized.

A couple of things happened while I was booking this trip. Once I got the plane tickets locked in, I started hearing rumblings about an event that could turn Vegas on its head. Never mind that I'd booked through Cinco de Mayo without realizing it (which falls on May 5th AGAIN this year, WUWT?). The rumor was that there would be a major fisticuffs match - and that fight would fall on May 2nd, squarely on the first weekend of my trip.

When there is a fight of this magnitude, Vegas goes crazy. Room rates skyrocket. The town fills up completely. Table minimums double and triple. Insanity rules. Add Cinco de Mayo to the mix three days later, and Rock in Rio Vegas de Janeiro the following weekend... and you have a very busy city full of drunk, disorderly, half naked idiots. Just like every week in Vegas.

After sketching out a plan for rooms that I thought would work, I made a few bookings for the days that were not in the heart of the maelstrom of pounding fists and then el remolino of pounding tequila.

Moving fast, I booked the Four Queens. That's a story unto itself. I'll get to it later. But I got it booked and I was covered for Thursday April 30th through the fight weekend. No way did I want to be down near MGM if the fight happened.

I had an offer from Luxor based on my shenanigans in the high limit room the last couple of trips. It covered two nights and threw in a bit of freeplay. Just before the fight was confirmed I booked 4 nights there (2 comped, 2 at casino rate). That would cover me through Cinco. I'd check in the day after the fight, the Sunday, but that should be okay. The main thing was, I had something booked.

There was more going on in Vegas too. There was Quattro de May, which would mark the closing of one of the last of the original 50s strip casinos, the Riviera, which has been sold to be razed flat and redeveloped as a gleaming, glass and chromium steel chain of beef jerky outlets. There are even rumours that the international turkey jerky consortium may be able to get some frontage as well.

And, is it a coincidence that the very next day, the Gattling Gun Group or whatever they are called will break ground across the street on the latest mega-venture to be built on the strip, adventurously know as “Resorts World”.

It’s a resort! It’s a world! It has pandas! It exists to take your money!

I’m truly looking forward to seeing what they put together. As you may know, I have long been dead set against the consolidation of the majority of the strip to two players (MGM and CET) because of how it hosed competition and led to the demise of competitive video poker and blackjack on the strip. And you can see for yourself how well that has all gone for Caesars (CET) which is now, not only teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, but actually well over the edge and plunging downward like a tumbling sack of frozen dog shit into a bottomless crevasse of bankruptcy.

Back to Resorts World, the Gattling Gun people are putting up $4 Billion American Dollars to build 3000 hotel rooms. The first phase should open in 2016. We’ll see. I hope it happens, it would be nice to see the site of the poor razed Stardust become something wonderful again, instead of just being the site of the steel FAIL skeleton of the ill-fated Echeschlong place that stood abandoned for so many years, reminding everyone that boom times don’t last forever. And that working paid-for casinos that generate revenue are not something to be torn down on a whim.

Back to the trip though…. the tail end of the trip was easy, booked through my host at the Cal. I had two nights, one really, because I’d leave around 9:00pm on the second night to get to McCarran. My host, Compy Mahoney, set up a gold card for my food, and limo service back to the airport to catch my Premium Slave Ship Roudge red-eye flight home.

Why so few nights at the Cal? Call me crazy but it is part of turning down the volume on the number of days where I have to meet certain play requirements to keep the goodies coming. Not that I don’t love it there, but that is one of the goals for this trip - to have more time to just kick around and play wherever I want.

This was all well and good and wonderful until 4 days before departure when I found out that the night Slave Ship Roudge flights to Vegas and back don't use the Boeing 767. They use the Airbus 319.

So what.

So what?

This is all wonderful except that the news is that the Roudge Airbus 319s are scheduled to receive their proper first class seats starting a month after my return. Since Roudge was started, they use regular economy seats up front on the A319, with the middle seat lovingly blocked off with seatbelted-in pillows. What the flying fuck?! Why can’t I have a real first class seat instead of some fake strap-on pillow seat?


I would have to do something about this.

But what???

3 comments:

  1. You leaving my tumbling bag of frozen dog shit alone! It is the only game in town! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. darren marchyshynMay 18, 2015 at 10:10 PM

    doesnt west jet fly out of toronto?

    ReplyDelete
  3. They do indeed darren, but this trip was booked on AeroPlan points and included the leg from Flusherville to Toronto as part of the deal. If you have to buy that separately it costs a leg and a leg.

    ReplyDelete

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