Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 3/9/2004Next week sees yet another Intel Developer Forum in the hipster's paradise of San Francisco. I'll be popping over for the duration, keen to ask interesting questions and report fascinating happenings, so watch this space.

Friday 3/9/2004
Next week sees yet another Intel Developer Forum in the hipster's paradise of San Francisco. I'll be popping over for the duration, keen to ask interesting questions and report fascinating happenings, so watch this space. Why is Intel so behind the curve on wireless networks? How come AMD seems to be winning on processor performance and innovation? Which Intel exec will have the most arresting hairdo? We don't stint on the important stuff here at ZDNet UK.

However, between London and San Francisco lies the Well of Misery -- otherwise known as 11 hours in economy class. That by itself is a necessary evil: what makes the whole business as much fun as a cow prod up the chasm is the two hour check-in queue beforehand and the welcoming charms of US Immigration afterwards. Being stuck in the middle of the centre aisle of the plane as well -- it doesn't bear thinking about.

My e-ticket arrived. Please arrive at the airport three months before your plane is due to depart. Breakfast will be thrown at you by a bonobo with a hangover. Seat 41E.

I didn't know where 41E was, but it didn't look promising. I had a vague memory of a Web site where you could check such things -- and so, it turned out, did Google. That told me that Virgin had finally put up its seat plans, and there they were. And there was 41E -- slap in the middle, right behind the bogs.

Despair. But hiding in the corner of the screen was a little red button twinkling a message of hope. "Do you want to change your seat?" Oh, you lil' darling! I clicked it faster than a starving mongoose swallowing a millet seed. Bad luck, it said, you didn't book your ticket with Virgin. You can't change your seat -- oh, to have the cup of release dashed from my lips so cruelly! -- but you can if you check in first online. Yer wot?

With every change in aviation since 11 September seemingly designed to make life harsher for the travelling punter, it is my extreme pleasure to relate that Virgin has introduced online check-ins. BA's had it for a while, but I haven't used it. You don't need to register with the Virgin service, just enter e-ticket number and passport details between two and 24 hours before the flight, and that's it. Drop your bags off when you get to the airport -- 60 minutes before the flight leaves is fine --- and that's that. And if you check-in early enough, you can reallocate your seat. I did. I have. I'm happy.

I've still got the flight itself and the US welcoming committee to go -- one correspondent had the full three and a half hour interview because he had 'too many stamps' in his passport. How many was too many? That's secret -- but at least some of the pain has been taken away.

See you on the other side…

One last note: a fond goodbye to super-sub Amanda, who has been slaving away each day on ZDNet UK for the last year or so. Back to her native New Zealand she heads - our fond wishes, as she will be sorely missed.

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