Friday, November 06, 2009

The art of riding the cable car

So you are in San Francisco and want to go for a ride on the cable car, but you take one look at the lines at the terminus and decide you don't want to wait around that along. What to do?

The secret is knowing that most of the people who get on here will take a seat and others behind them in the line will pass on a spot on the foot board and wait for the next cable car.

If you think you can hang on, and dont mind hanging out the side, then the answer is to walk to the next stop and jump on the foot board of the next car. While I expect it is different in the middle of vacation time there are usually spots on the foot board available.

But if you do wan t a seat people do get on and off along the route so if you are waiting at an intermediate stop you are likely to find a seat. The conductor will usually shout what's available when the car comes to a stop.

Either way riding the cable cars are fun.

This advice mostly applies to the Powell/Hyde and Powell/Mason lines. When I was in San Francisco the California line was much more lightly loaded, and in a way I found it a more interesting ride.

As for fares, a one way trip on the cable car is $5. However you can buy a muni pass. These are available for 1 day, 3 day, and 7 day periods from Muni ticket booths. Prices range from $6 to $21, and allow travel on any muni operated service, be it muni metro, buses, the F Line and of course the cable car. Interestingly they use a scratch off system like the infamous Met "scratchie" tickets in Melbourne.

Free Game

Saw this in Jason Hill's excellent Screen Play blog today.

As part of Wallace and Gromit's 20th aniversary, game developer Telltale Games are giving away one instalment of the Wallace and Gromit game series, "Muzzled" for free here. Don't know how long this will last. for a limited time only.

I've been meaning to try these games out for while so what better opportunity. Currently downloading now. I'm still kicking myself for not picking up World of Goo the other week when it was on "name your own price" special...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Notes on the art of USA air travel


In my journey I became very adept at the US air travel security procedure. These are my tips
  • Always take your shoes and jacket/jumper off and place them in one of the tubs provided.
  • Do not leave heavy metal objects in bags (such as padlocks), but make sure you stuff everything you can in as it makes it easier when getting dressed again on the other side.
  • Don't wear a belt unless you really need to. (Actually the belt thing is a conclusion I came to in Australia a few years ago)
  • Most of all allow plenty of time for the formalities at security.


Most airlines in the US charge for any luggage when you check in.

Some airlines have reduced bag fees if you check in and pay your baggage fee on line. For example United gave me a $5 discount for doing this.

In Flight Service

In a short it does not exist. For example, in Australia I am used to showing my boarding pass to the flight attendants at the door of the aircraft and they will usually tell you which way to go (even when there is only one option, "down the aisle to the right"). In the US they just wave you on. While it's not rocket science for most people to find the right seat, it is just a difference I noticed.

There are no meals provided, even on full service carriers. However you always get a free drink, even on low cost airlines such as Southwest. You also usually get a small packet of peanuts or pretzels.

Flying with Southwest

This airline really deserves it's own category as it is the weirdest flight I have ever been on.

When you check in it is advisable to check in online the night before or arrive at the airport very early. The reason for this is, Southwest has free seating and instead allocates each passenger a number. This number is their order for boarding, therefore early check in means a lower number and a better choice of seat. There are three categories A B and C. There are only a small number of A, a large number of B and a smaller number of C.

At the gate they call boarding by letter group and passengers are expected to line up in order. So when they call A all the As line up in order from 1 to 20 or whatever. Then when they have boarded the call all the Bs up and get them to line up in order. And so it goes with C.

On our flight we were B twenty something, but it was quite empty and so got a row between the 2 of us.

As we checked in late, we got special "late" tags on our bags, which must in some cases give the baggage handlers the ok to "forget" loading certain bags on the plane, we were lucky however. The woman who checked up is also did her best to put our bags on the conveyor upside down. Nice one.

The rest of the flight on Southwest is relatively normal. It's just the boarding process that is really strange. Unlike Jetstar, Southwest seem to have got the unallocated seating thing to work. Although it's probably a cultural thing with Australians...