white united airlines plane

Seven Flights in Three Days


This is a writing about a disappointing experience with airline travel. I was helping the travelers who went through the experience described here. Over three days they had seven flights, with one of the seven having reached the airport, but unable to land due to a regional power outage impacting the airport.

Initial Ticket Purchase

Initially a non-stop flight from Chicago to Delhi was purchased, with a slight seat upgrade to avoid sitting in cramped economy seats for the 14 hour flight. The non-stop flight cost was a bit more than a flight with multiple stops.

Flight Cancelled

Many weeks prior to the departure date, the airline cancelled the non-stop flight and substituted it with a 1-stop flight which would be Chicago to Newark, then Newark to Delhi. There was to be a 5-hour layover. There was no reimbursement for the downgrade from a non-stop flight to a 1-stop flight. Having an intermediary stop always increases the chances of delays or problems with connecting flights.


Cedar Rapids to Chicago

A free itinerary change was offered as compensation for the change in flight plans, and surprisingly, the airline was willing to add a Cedar Rapids to Chicago flight to the itinerary at no extra cost. That would save a drive to Chicago, but also added in the uncertainly of a timely departure and arrival in Chicago. At least it was some consolation for the downgrade from a nonstop international flight to a 1-stop flight. Thankfully, the Cedar Rapids to Chicago flight was on-time.

Chicago to Newark 5-Hour Delay

The Chicago flight was so late in departing that the flight arrived in Newark with a 5-hour delay. As the plane from Chicago was arriving in Newark, the plane to Delhi was taking off.

Another Chicago to Newark flight that was scheduled for later in the day had actually been on-time and could have reached the connecting flight on time. It’s always frustrating to know that another option was available that could have worked.

Overnight Stay in Newark

Because of the flight delay and missed connection, the airline provided a hotel voucher to stay near the airport in Newark. The voucher covered only a portion of the hotel cost.

Day 2

Newark to Montreal

The only remaining flights from Newark to Delhi were multi-stop flights that would go through Europe to change planes for a flight headed to Delhi. Some of the travel options had two-stops including one domestic airport and then a European airport before continuing to Delhi. These stops would include changing airplanes with short layovers in foreign countries which were likely to result in more missed connections.

A direct flight from Montreal to Delhi was available and seemed like the best option. The airline was willing to arrange whatever itinerary was preferred and offered a Newark to Montreal flight to catch the non-stop flight from Montreal to Delhi. So, this option was selected.

Montreal to Burlington

The flight to Montreal came close to the Montreal airport, but never touched down. It circled above the airport about 6 times and then was re-routed to Burlington, Vermont.

It had been impossible to land in Montreal due to power outages caused by excessive air conditioner use which shut down a region of Canada that included the power to the airport and more than 200,000 people.

The excessive air conditioner use by people in the area was a result of historically high unbearable high temperatures in Canada. The airplane landed in Burlington, and then sat on the runway awaiting further instructions from air traffic control.

Burlington to Montreal

Once emergency power was provided to the Montreal airport, it was possible for the plane to return to Montreal. However, the significant delay due to rerouting resulted in a very short connecting time in Montreal. At this point the remaining connections in India would not be feasible. It made most sense to just travel back to Iowa and plan a trip for later with a direct flight, as was originally requested.

Overnight Stay in Montreal

It was necessary to stay overnight in Montreal since no other departing flights were available. Even though it was just after 5PM, all the airline staff had left the desks, presumably the airport had mostly cleared out due to the power outage. The lack of staff at the airport made it difficult to get assistance or arrange for a hotel. Eventually hotel accommodations were established without any help from the airline. Navigating at night in a mostly French-speaking city was a challenge, but ultimately there was an overnight stay at a hotel.

Day 3

Montreal to Chicago

The flight from Montreal to Chicago was anticipated to arrive within an hour of the departing Chicago to Cedar Rapids flight. Given the experience so far, there was some hesitancy in trusting that there would be sufficient time to make the connecting flight.

The flight arrived in Chicago later than expected. Only with the assistance of airline staff providing rapid transit through the airport was it possible to make the connecting flight to Cedar Rapids.

With very little time to spare, boarding of the Chicago to Cedar Rapids flight was achieved.

Chicago to Cedar Rapids

The flight from Chicago to Cedar Rapids was on-time and arrived without any issues.

Lost Luggage

Both checked bags were tagged and were properly updated to reflect Cedar Rapids as the ultimate destination. However, only one bag arrived in Cedar Rapids. The other was recorded as still being in Newark. A request was made to have the bag delivered. The airline promised to make arrangements for the bag to be brought to the home.

Three Hour Wait Times

Throughout the three-day ordeal, there were numerous times when it was necessary to contact the airlines. The quickest way to get support from the airline was with online chat. Due to “an unexpectedly high number of requests” the wait time was sometimes estimated as three hours before communicating with a customer service representative. This made it hard to get service in a timely manner, resulting in more delays and problems.

Day 4

Cryptic Text Message

The following day, a text message was received from an unknown number, without any identification as to who the sender was.

The message stated:

  • “Your delivery is on the way. You can visit https://a1234.app.goo.gl/ABCDE to view your delivery tracking information.”

The link was actually slightly different than what is shown above. The letters and numbers were different.

Since the sender didn’t identify who they were, and the message didn’t indicate what the delivery was, and the link to be clicked was not a valid shipper or business, it seemed like a scam. So, after taking a screenshot, it seemed best to choose the option to “Report Junk” and delete.

Using a secured off-site computer, it was possible to check the link. It did not work.

Bag Delivery Issues

The third-party baggage delivery company stated that they arrived at the home with the bag, but nobody was home so they couldn’t leave the bag.

There actually were many people at home the entire day, looking out the door and awaiting a promised phone call prior to delivery.

Another notation stated that the bag was actually delivered and had been left at the residence earlier.

Subsequent communications stated the bag would arrive by 10 PM.

The bag didn’t arrive.

It was finally delivered the following day.

Over 20 major airlines contract with HomeServ — an independent company that operates a website called “Where’s My Suitcase.” This is the company that was supposed to deliver the bag.

This is an excerpt from the About page for the delivery company:

  • “HomeServ provides total delivery solutions by developing strong and mutually beneficial relationships with our partners. … our management team understands how to meet individualized delivery needs with integrated and customized technology solutions.” [Source]

The company has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau and an average of 1.45 stars out of 5 based on customer reviews and complaints. [Source] Here are a few examples of the 1-star reviews:

  • “The tracking number they gave us to follow up on wheres my suitcase, did NOT work. The website did not accept the tracking number. … Wheres My Suitcase appears to be a scam.” (2 Jul 2023)
  • “Complete absence of service. No way of contacting them. Their website offers no information. By using them Airlines show their complete disregard for their customers” (19 Feb 2023)
  • “My experience is exactly like several others here. American Airlines turned my luggage over to this company 48 hours ago. They promised delivery that same night (Monday). It is now Wednesday. They do not respond to email and have no posted phone number.” (27 Jul 2022)
  • “Two bags were left on our doorstep on July 13th by wheresmysuitcase, but they reported to Air France that they delivered three. There was a phone number on the yellow tag; called several times, and the employee says all three bags were delivered because that’s what shows on their tracker. They got no signature because our only contact was a text, not a ring of the doorbell.” (19 Jul 2022)
  • “Same issues as other reviews. No way to contact, questionable service people. I filled out the “waive signature” in the email that was sent to me, and asked them to drop my bag at the door because I was going to be on calls. All of that info was confirmed by them to me. Then around time of bag showing up I get 2 calls and an email from the driver from his random number asking me for a tip when he arrives and telling me that he won’t leave my bag unless I am there. Totally shady and disruptive.” (19 Jul 2022)
  • “This company needs to be investigated for fraud. There isn’t any way to contact the company. Worldtracer indicated that 3 of my bags were assigned for delivery and picked up by this company for delivery. They only delivered 2 bags and the driver said he didn’t have the other bag. The whereismysuitcase.com emails and website tracker indicated they had 3 in route, however only 2 showed up. There is no accountability and the airline could not reach the company. It is a dead end without any resolution. There is clearly a point where the bag went missing and it’s when the third party (whereismysuitcase.com) took possession. They do not respond to their customer service emails or have any way of communicating with their contractor or the owner of the baggage. It appears that the airlines are not vetting these third parties and fraudulent activity is happening at Whereismysuitcase.com” (15 Jul 2022)
  • “Terrible company. My bag was pick up from the airport on 6/24 and it is 6/28 and I have not received my bag, there is no longer and tracking info available, and no phone number to call with any questions.” (28 Jun 2022)
  • “The company has no public phone number and does not respond to emails. It is very likely that they may have stolen my luggage, but how could I know? American Airlines reps have told me they cannot contact this company. Unbelievable and unethical, if not downright illegal.” (22 Jun 2022)
  • “My bag was delayed into LGA on a Monday night. The wheresmysuitcase.com web site announces that the bag would be picked up by noon on Tuesday and delivered by 5:00 that day. As of Wednesday morning the bag had still not been picked up, but the web site continued to advise that it “will be delivered” by 5:00 on Tuesday. Ditto for this morning (Thursday).I have an Apple AirTag in the bag. It shows that the bag has left the airport but has been delivered to an address in Queens. I am in Westchester. I will now call be calling the police to report the theft. No airline should ever consider using this company.” (6 Jan 2022)


There are so many details to the above saga. It exemplifies the poor state of customer service and logistics today. The aspects of the delays caused by extreme weather conditions offer insight into what to expect in the future as climate extremes impact various aspects of society.

The airline industrial complex is too big to fail, but also too big to succeed. There’s seemingly nothing that individual consumers or legislators or government agencies can do to improve the situation.

There are many other key industries globally that are strained and failing, with stories similar to the ones above in healthcare, education, and other professions. Automated systems with humans no longer in the loop have resulted in runaway technology that nobody seems to be able to improve or replace.

Positive Business Models

Efforts have been made to incorporate human-centric principles and practices into business operations. The Triple Bottom Line refers to business placing the planet and people above profits. The rise of B Corporations places attention on the ways businesses can have a more positive impact in the world.

There’s a fork in the road that businesses encounter at some point:

  • OPTION #1 — Will a business take the path of maximizing profits? Some companies are still in a hyper-greed mode causing harm to the planet, employees, and consumers. They create stress, harm, loss, and waste. Someone at the top of the pyramid benefits. Everyone else suffers.
  • OPTION #2 — Another path is to pursue maximizing product quality, service quality, consumer safety, environmental stewardship, customer service excellence, and other things that make the world better? This can be referred to as “business forward” — a model where business improves society.

Until the airline industry is able to fully shift to the more humane, ethical, and beneficial business approach, conditions will likely remain the same or get worse.

woman wearing black and red gingham sport shirt

Tech Support: Small Scale — At Scale

A popular buzzword or phrase in various industries recently is the term “at scale” — which refers to building systems or services that can be delivered and sustained over a broad area for many people.

It’s actually a very pragmatic and important concept. Very often people think of amazing products and solutions. Fusion energy systems have been developed and tested to work, but we’re not able to build models to power the entire country. Quantum computers exist that can perform tasks that might take ordinary computers millions of years to accomplish. However, those computers are limited in the types of tasks they can perform, they are very expensive, and very large. They need extreme cooling systems.

There are many examples of great inventions and ideas that haven’t been brought to market with broad distribution due to various limitations.

Electric vehicles are a good example of this. We know they work. Millions of people are using them. But are electric vehicles feasible as a solution to replace those currently powered by gasoline and diesel? We would need millions of charging stations, a massive upgrade to the national power grid, a big increase in electricity production capabilities, and a nation-wide workforce of auto mechanics trained on EVs would be needed. If any of these pieces are missing, it won’t work at scale. Yesterday the CEO of Ford announced that there isn’t enough time to train all the mechanics needed for a timely switch to EVs. [Source] For more on this topic, read, “Are Electric Cars the Answer?” by Nicholas Johnson.

To do anything at scale, often requires doing everything at scale. Logistics. Manufacturing. Sales. Customer service. Technical support. The list goes on.

I’m often asked why I don’t hire employees and build a large IT services company.

The reason is simple. Many years ago, I watched a friend do just that. He built up a an ITservices business. His role became managerial, administrative, and supervisory. One day he told me, “Greg, I’ve lost my tech skills. I’m spending all my time running the business rather than working on computers.”

In addition to losing his tech skills, he was losing touch with his customers. Service delivery was becoming impersonal. The necessity of efficiency and profits demanded fast bare minimum service delivery.

When a customer calls me, we have a conversation and talk about general life events, and when the conversation gets to the point of talking about resetting their router, I say, “Okay, your router is under the desk on the right. The cords are short so you might not be able to pull it out all the way, but on the back you’ll find at the top is the power button. Your old router had the power button in the front, but this one has it in the back.”

I’m able to solve common problems in minutes over the phone, rather than needing to go on-site and charge for an in-home visit. That’s only possible because we’ve developed a relationship over 5, 10, 20, or 30 years.

Instead of hiring employees, I train other people to do what I do — provide tech services and develop long-term relationships with people. I keep doing this over and over. I’m bulling small-scale at-scale. In this way, hundreds or thousands of people can get support, all from someone they know.

This idea of building optimal small-scale service models, and duplicating them, can result in the best of all possible options.

I’ve written the above as an update and addendum to my 2015 article, “Centralized and Distributed Support Models in Service Industries.” [View]

Note: Beyond tech services, the small scale at scale approach could be used for neighborhood volunteer helpers to assist those in need.

Independence Day 2022

Happy 4th of July

Traditionally, Independence Day has been a time when people gather with family and friends to celebrate. It’s a holiday similar to Thanksgiving, but with a political and patriotic theme. Appreciation is shown for those who have fought for the ongoing independence of the country. People reflect on how grateful they are for the freedoms they have.

For those celebrating today, I hope you have a great day.

For those reflecting on the meaning of this day, feel free to read on.

How We Use Our Freedoms

As individuals or as a country, our freedoms come with responsibilities and obligations.

This principle is conveyed in the following quotes:

  • “Instead of thinking that I am born with rights, I choose to think that I was born with obligations to serve past, present, and future generations, and the planet herself.” ~ Cherokee elder, Stan Rushworth. [More]
  • “…we are held responsible for what we have. If we have been blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge, time, and the like, it is expected that we benefit others.” ~ Casey Duhart essay on Luke 12:48 [Source]

Political holidays like Independence Day offer an opportunity to reflect with appreciation on the freedoms we have, and consider how well we are using those freedoms to make the world a better place.

The Good Country Index is a helpful tool for reflecting on a country’s success and how it is measured. It’s a meaningful ‘report card’ to periodically review. [View]

We become more honest with our own self-assessment when we consider specific goals for society. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a good guideline for progress and planning. [View]

A practical way to observe and celebrate Independence Day is to consider how to give of one’s time, money, and resources to help their country and the world be better. Donate financially to organizations that advance freedom, such as independent journalism and education. Look for ways to help strengthen the Columns of Democracy.

Unusual Context for Fourth of July 2022

This year the Fourth of July blends with some other significant events in our country’s history.

In recent weeks, our legislators have been investigating the insurgency of 6 Jan 2021, when an armed group attacked the Capitol. This investigation brings attention to the divisions in the country.

A separate but related event is the decision of the Supreme Court on 24 Jun 2022 whereby women no longer have certain federally protected rights that had been in place for about 50 years. This creates a big rift in the country between states that want to uphold the established law and those who do not. The fallout from the decision is still settling and has many ramifications. [More]

During his time in power, the leader of the insurgency group had installed justices who would generally be loyal to the insurgency group and their views. His name and image continue to be used by loyalists who still see him as their leader. So, when the Supreme Court ruling was announced, there was much celebration of what was considered to be a political victory and proof that their leader still has power, influence, and was still delivering on political promises.

Due to this context and recent events, the usual unity and enthusiasm of Independence Day is slightly muted.

[Photo: The picture featured is a sunrise photo from my morning walk on 4 Jul 2022.]

Preparing for what’s next…

In 1997, I established the ResourcesForLife.com website as an online venue for engaging in public interest work and supporting others who work to make the world a better place. 

To fund those efforts, rather than asking for donations, I planned to start businesses that would generate surplus revenue to cover the cost of my outreach efforts. That model worked well for 24 years.

Since there were no big-money donors or advertisers, I was unrestrained in the challenges I could undertake and the commentary I would write.

Through writings, videos, public speaking, and direct outreach, I hoped to positively impact education, the environment, healthcare, consumer rights, worker rights, housing, civic engagement, and other areas. 

One of my favorites areas of public interest work has been consumer advocacy. An example would be a negotiation I had with Apple that reduced the cost of a product by 90%. In 2003, the song American Pie was selling for $9.99 on iTunes (purchase of the entire album was required). I negotiated with Apple’s legal counsel at the time, arguing that their advertising promised songs for 99-cents. After an extended dialog over many days, I won that negotiation. My time was volunteered. I received nothing personally of monetary value, and there was no news coverage of the victory. But the satisfaction of having won against Apple still inspires me to this day. There were similar successes over the years and also some bewildering instances where companies would not back down from engaging in short-sighted, self-destructive practices.

In 2012, I launched the Threat News Radar project with the goal of tracking news of global issues that threatened the environment, human rights, government stability, and the world in general. By 2018, there were so many of these threats in the news that it was no longer possible to write individual articles about them. So, I would share the dozens of weekly stories through social media. It required less time to write a short summary and provide a link. Now, in 2021, there are so many of these reports daily that it’s not possible to keep up. 

In recent days, there have been reports of 1,200-year droughts as well as numerous 1,200-year floods around the world. Now there are websites dedicated to reporting on the massive floods we are witnessing globally. Fires in the west are creating thick haze and air quality issues impacting Chicago and even New York. Southwestern states are running out of water. A lack of interest in curtailing viral threats is resulting in cycles of more contagious variants of greater lethality. The seriousness and frequency of all these threats continue to increase. Last year in Iowa, we had a storm that left 300,000 people without power. 

Four days ago, more than 32,000 websites and apps went down, including those from Amazon, American Express, AT&T, Costco, FedEx, GoDaddy, LastPass, McDonald’s, UPS, US Bank, Vanguard, and about 32,000 others. It’s not yet known if this was the result of human error or malicious hacker activity. But does it really matter what the cause was? These incidents of massive outages and security breaches are increasing in frequency and impact.

The U.S. national debt continues to increase every second, with seemingly no concern that it be paid down. Regional population growth exceeds the availability of water and other resources required to support life. Indeed, the world population continues to grow at a rapid rate, resulting in regional scarcities that produce strife, war, and suffering.

Given the above facts, it’s even more important than ever that we not dwell on what’s wrong in the world. It’s also equally important that we not ignore global threats. Those of us who care should focus on solutions. We should do what we can to raise awareness and take positive action in our own lives.

For these reasons, in preparing for what’s next, I’m focused on pursuing minimalism and simplifying my life. I am getting rid of possessions I’m not using. I also am looking for ways to simplify my digital life. Over the past few days, I’ve reduced the ResourcesForLife.com website to a single simple webpage. It had grown to be too much for one person to manage, and much of the content was outdated. The cost in time and money to maintain the site was excessive, and the website in itself produced no revenue.

The global priorities and urgency have dramatically shifted, and we all need to adjust accordingly. I’m currently evaluating where my time and resources can be better invested to have the greatest positive impact in the world.

I’ll report more in the days to come about my plans for what’s ahead. I’ll continue to provide tech services since that is my personal area of expertise and the best way to help those who depend on me.


  • This article is part 3 in a series on the need for minimalism. Parts 1 and 2 are in my most recent monthly updates. [Part 1 | Part 2]
  • The photo above is from a visit to the Hoover Dam on 23 Dec 2019.
  • To signup for my short monthly email for news about what’s going on in my life, please click here.

There’s no coupon code for freedom.

Freedom is somewhat of an abstract word. Politicians often use it to stir patriotic sentiments and for virtue signaling. Yet, most people would be hard-pressed to describe what freedom actually is.

There’s certainly potential for freedom in America: the freedom to choose a career path, start a business, travel, live where you want, start a family, practice religion (or not), enjoy parks, and pursue numerous diversions.

But the potential for freedom isn’t the same as ensuring that everyone has unobstructed opportunities for their own experience of freedom.

A strong military provides a defense against an armed invasion. Cyber-defense specialists protect against online threats.

However, there are many other obstacles to freedom.

If people don’t have access to quality education and vocational training, how will they grow in a career that can provide them some financial freedom? Without a relatively good-paying job, many people work two or more jobs living paycheck to paycheck. In Tennessee, college education, internships, mentoring, and vocational training are guaranteed to all residents. It’s an initiative that aims at promoting individual freedom. That program is working.

Healthy people are well enough to work, and that employment provides access to quality healthcare. Those who are sick, can’t work, and without a job typically don’t have access to affordable healthcare. So, the people in greatest need of healthcare can’t get it, and those who are healthy enough to have access to it mostly don’t need it. Some states have established programs to make healthcare more accessible to all.

We have the strongest military in the world, but to someone without a job, without a home, and without good health, the sacrifice of our soldiers doesn’t get fully manifested. We can build high walls to keep others out, but if we don’t have a high quality of life guaranteed for all citizens, what are the walls accomplishing?

In addition to the personal building blocks of freedom for an individual’s life, there are social institutions that help keep our nation free.

The freedom we collectively experience requires ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Institutions of education, libraries, a free and independent press, the courts, and people fulfilling their civic duties are all part of what keeps democracy working. According to Nicholas Johnson, these are the Columns of Democracy.

Try running a car without oil. You won’t get far. Democracy without all of its supportive pillars won’t go far either.

It’s all about freedom—that simple word with so much meaning for so many people.

This July 4, when you think about independence and freedom, consider all that is required to promote and defend freedom for individuals and our country. Let’s appreciate all of those who help support the entire ecosystem that freedom and democracy rely on.

Freedom isn’t free. There’s no discount coupon or special offer code. It’s a lot of work for the individual and for a country.

Happy Independence Day.

The fireworks photo at the top of this page is from a trip to Lake Tahoe during the July 4 celebrations in 2018.

Jobs That Promote Freedom

Here’s a PBS NewsHour video from 1 Jul 2021 on the topic of providing education, experience, vocational training, and apprenticeship programs that will give them a career boost and greater financial independence.

Traditional Patriotism

Lee Greenwood is known for his song “God Bless the USA” in which it is proclaimed “The flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Last year, Greenwood, collaborated with The United States Air Force Band, Singing Sergeants, and the music group Home Free, to produce a new version of that song. A video of their recording is below. This is an example of traditional patriotism which is still popular today.