Category: "Trips"

Renting a car at LAX airport

Renting a car at LAX airport
American Spirit /

I live in L.A. but I don't own my car; I rent it! Furthermore, I actually turn it in every time I fly out to a conference and then get a new one when I fly back. This gave me the opportunity to try out quite a few different car rental companies located at LAX.

First, they all have a shuttle from the airport terminals to their facility. What you need to do when you get out of baggage claim is locate the curb segment that has Purple signs saying "Car Rental Shuttles" and wait for your shuttle there. The other colors are for Hotel Shuttles and parking shuttles.

Here's my experience with several of the car rental companies (Note that I am typically renting Compact cars):

  • Avis: I've had a "dirty car" experience with them in the past. I've been avoiding them ever since.
  • Dollar: probably the best deals on the cars. You can choose your car within a category section. The problem is with the shuttle. You sometimes wait for quite a bit more than the advertised "every 15 minutes". WARNING: After like 20 rentals with them I needed some documents for my insurance and they never sent them to me. Actually, the people who work at their claim dept are either trained to be disingenuous or they are genuinely retarded. Either way, their customer service is an outrage. Don't go there!
  • Enterprise: expensive unless you have a coupon. Car had no wiper water.
  • Hertz: Very expensive
  • Thrifty: Rude front desk. You can choose your car within a category section. Car had no wiper water. Took 20 minutes to turn in the car instead of 2 minutes everywhere else.
  • Fox: Shuttle runs more often than many others. Efficient front desk. Dirtiest car ever; all seats severely stained with God knows what. You cannot choose your car (and you can end up with an ugly PT Cruiser).

I will come back here and edit this post as I rent more cars at LAX.

Frenchman in the US

Frenchman in the US

I'm hooked on imported foods and cherry flavored antacids... :(

Blue Man Group

Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group
Blue Man Group

So, as planned, last time I went to Vegas I actually went to see one of those Vegas shows. I was actually thinking about seeing two: Blue Man Group and Mystère. I only made it to Blue Man Group but that's cool, because I was really intrigued by that one ;)

From France all I knew about BMG was their appearance in the Intel commercials some time ago. I had never really found out what they were really about. Then I've seen some ads for their show every time I went to Vegas and I think in Chicago too...

So I just had to check them out... :P

I did expect something crazy. And it actually exceeded my expectations!

I enjoyed the visual effects they performed live on stage and the loud stomping and music that comes with it. But after a while, the show extends to the whole theater and the audience is part of the show. That's pretty wild and I'd definitely recommend that blue rave over any green carpet blackjack experience! ;)

Now rest assured: as long as you don't sit in the first 2 front rows, you won't get wet or stained or anything.

Las Vegas Junkie

Las Vegas Junkie
Las Vegas Blvd from the top of the Stratosphere. The strip is at the far left after the curve on the blvd.

Here we go again: I barely haven't recovered from my last trip to BlogWorld in Vegas a couple weeks ago and I'm already planning to go back to Las Vegas, this time for Pubcon.

At this point I'd almost have to wonder whether I'm not just making excuses for going back to Vegas over and over again. But honestly I don't!

Truth is... I don't really like Vegas. I don't gamble. Not a cent last time I was there. And I'm not that much into night life. I haven't even been to the strip last time. Worse: the perpetual slot machine sound at the Hilton last time made me explicitly pick a different hotel this time (although the Hilton is a darn good value if you want to be near the conference center.)

PubCon was great. Vegas around it... bah... Actually, one cool thing I did last time is go up the Stratosphere which was really worth the view. Best Vegas attraction if you ask me!

Now I realize I still have to check out some more stuff before issuing a final judgment! ;) This time I'll try to see at least one of those world famous Vegas shows and check what they're all about. And if that's not enough to make the whole "Vegas again" trip worthwhile, I'll also take a little trip to the Skywalk nearby...

Grounded in France

Grounded in France
Frederic Legrand - COMEO /

I was supposed to fly to Seattle today... but thanks to Air France flight attendants and one of their >:XX strikes, I'm litterally grounded in France... It's been 4 days now! :-/

Of course I wish there were other options for flying non stop from Paris to the west coast, but I'm afraid there aren't a lot. I even suspect the flights that have been canceled are precisely the ones with the least competition available. Bast>:XX (I mean: sensible capitalists! :|)

Anyway, here's a couple of things I learnt while canceling my hotel and domestic flight reservations:

  • Orbitz will charge you $25 when canceling an hotel reservation (more than 24 hours in advance) whereas canceling at reservation made directly with the hotel would generally be at no charge. On the other hand, booking through Orbitz oftentimes gets you a better rate. So it's a close call...
  • Canceling a hotel within the last 24 hours prior to arrival can be super expensive. You need to try and cancel as soon as possible.
  • Canceling my $186 flight with United from Seattle to LA cost me $100 charged by United an $30 charged by Orbitz. The remaining $56 credit is valid for one year but is going to be a pain to reuse (no automated procedure).
  • Had I waited to actually be in Seattle before booking that flight (i-e: booked it tonight), it would only have cost me $20 more ($207 total). I think I'm done with booking domestic flights way in advance.

Still, I really really should find out how to not rely on Air France any more... 'coz you know... they made their point: they're just unreliable! :-/