Customer experiences and international travel

I recently flew from the US to EU on Northwest Airlines with a connection in Amsterdam. Happened to be the cheapest flight, and my favorite airline had cancelled my previous reservation for no discernible reason.

1- I have rarely seen a piece of software as broken as the VOD system that NWA runs in its Airbus. This thing is supposed to give you full VOD and Music-on-demand as well as advanced maps. In practice, there are major refresh bugs (some blocks of text stay on the screen; maps appear garbled; etc.) and major navigational problems (pressing a key seems to produce a random result). It wasn't only my unit. 4 other units that I was able to observe had the same symptoms. Honestly, I'd be ashamed to put something like that in front of people, even for testing within my own company. Unbelievable.

2- If you can avoid it, do not connect in AMS (Schipol). I had a comfortable time to connect (1h30). For some reason the airline wasn't able to print the boarding pass for my EU flight ahead of time. In itself, this is weird. After all, all these companies (NWA, KLM, AF) belong to the same "team". Expedia was able to make the reservations. What's so hard about printing a boarding pass? So, in AMS I'm heading to a "transfer desk" as instructed by the flight attendants from the US flight. The first desk is unmanned, and there's a huge check-in line of maybe 1hr worth of people at the check-in desks next to it. I don't even know whether this check-in line will work for me, so I head on to information. And I'm right. I should be going somewhere else. When I reach the correct transfer desk, I have to take a ticket, somewhat like at the DMV in California or random administrations in France. I get #278 and the current called number is #135, with three desks opens and about one hour to my flight. Excuse me? Determined not to miss my flight, I head on to the gate and inquire at the desk there. Oh, of course I can get my boarding pass printed in about 10 seconds there. What the, as they say, F?

3- Getting my AVIS car, I'm told to initial the drawings indicating that the car is in mint condition. The rep tells me that the car is practically new, really. Come on. This is Paris. There's no such thing as an unbanged car. Sure enough, broken light, scratch paint, and to top it off the tank isn't even full. Again, WTF?

Is everybody so blase with international travel that they expect a bad experience over and over again? Doesn't anybody care anymore?


How about Google Stars?

Keyhole Google Earth is pretty cool. Google Moon was an April 1st joke. Google Mars is a novelty item. What I'd like to see is Google Stars. Take the best NASA and ESA pictures, and make them available in a map-type GUI, infinitely zoomable (say logarithmically?). More, hack some glue between the upcoming Celestron SkyScout and your browser, and there you go.