Twice as fast = twice as nice

So today the dutch railways (NS) ran a one-time Amsterdam Berlin intercity service that was 27 minutes faster than the usual 6 hour 30 minutes Amsterdam Berlin intercity service. They achieved this by omitting all stops between Amsterdam and the German border (Hilversum, Amsersfoort, Apeldoorn, Deventer, Amelo and Henglo). According to the NS it should be possible to further reduce travel time to four hours by aquiring engines that are capable of running 200 km/h on the Dutch and the German rail…

What airlines can learn from how casinos are run

So the latest Planet Money podcast consists of this absolutely fascinating interview with Harvard professor turned casino CEO Gary Loveman. The interview is fascinating on a number of levels, chief among them this detailed look into data-driven behavioral manipulations: Gary Loveman: Everybody who gambles knows that the house has an advantage. They are not unhappy that they loose any more that one is unhappy that they pay $40 to walk into the magic kingdom at disney. They recognize that there is…

Kabul tourist guide

The city of Kabul (and Afghanistan in general) is still pretty high on my list of places i want to visit. Unfortunately, the closest place to Kabul that i got to so far is Delhi. Fortunately, however, there is the fabulous internet where Safi Airways ‘the international airline of Afghanistan’ is publishing PDF versions of it’s fabulous in-flight magazine. Browsing through the three available issues only reinforces my desire to go and visit the place. As far as the standards of such publications…

resilience | /ɹə.zɪl.ɪ.əns/

Last week thursday night someone tried to break in to our offices on the fourth floor of a building on the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam. in order to gain access to the office the wannabe-burglar(s) kicked in the door, pushing one of the wooden door panels into the room. it appears that they then waited to see if there was an alarm system and that they quickly left the building without taking anything from the office when the alarm sounded 20 seconds after the door was kicked in. So while they had…

An evidence-based approached to airport security

It seems that Beirut International Airport has a refreshingly evidence-based approach to flight security. When standing in line for the second security checkpoint (the one between the duty free area and the actual boarding gates) the security guards produced a half liter metal can from the backpack of the passenger two persons ahead in our line. When he failed to get the lid open with his hands, the teenager directly in front of us handed the security guard a pair of scissors, which he used to o…

Swine flue / Flying slums

One of the biggest idiots of our times, ryan air’s Michael O’Leary who has an opinion on just about everything is quoted by the german news website Spiegel online to have claimed that the swine flue ‘only affects people living in slums in Mexico and Asia’ and that ‘people flying short haul in Europe this summer will fortunately not die of the Swine flue’. Funny thing is that Ryanair flights can best be characterized as flying slums, which would make O’Leary a slum lord in addition to be a genera…

Deportation airlines

Deportee boarding a ICE air flight to Guatemala city at Mesa, AZ airport. (photo Michael Schennum/Wall Street Journal) We have had the deportation class and the deportation alliance but we never really had a proper deportation airline. Seems they have one in the US (land of the free?) though: The Wall Street Journal has a rather surreal article about ‘ICE air’ (ICE stands for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency of the Department for Homeland Security). ICE air (official…

No wonder...

… that South Americans and Canadians consider the gringos to be arrogant: Window display of the continental [sic!] airlines agency on Meiji-dori between Ebisu and Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan.…

Data retention (a.k.a Northwest thinks that i am a vegetarian)

So just before the meal service during yesterday’s flight to Boston i get a meal tray handed over by a flight attendant. Turns out they have me on the list for a special (vegetarian) meal. Now the strange thing is that i had not ordered such a meal (even cheked my reservation confirmation and it does say ‘no special requests‘ so Northwest’s reservation computer must have come to the conclusion that i am (still) a vegetarian all by itself. Probably based on the fact that i was a vegetarian when i…