I was waiting for my suitcase this afternoon in Terminal C at Newark Airport, having just arrived on a Continental Airlines flight from Orlando, where I attended the PhoCusWright conference, when I saw the sign (at left) on the luggage carousel.
It cracked me up.
If you want to retrieve "odd size items" like skis, boxes and car seats, you'll have to meander over to the "odd size area behind carousel 9," the sign reads.
Hey, it sounds like a lot more fun than walking over to a normal-size area to retrieve your odd size items.
I wonder what's so odd about the odd size area.
Maybe the area has an odd shape like these.
Maybe the shape is complex and puzzling.
I'm sure Seinfeld would know.
Meanwhile, the Continental check-in process and PhoCusWright's Travel Innovation Summit, in which we saw pitches from almost three dozen start-ups or new products from established players, reminded me that travel tech can at times be an odd or mysterious space.
If not an odd-size area:)
For example, when you check in for a Continental flight you have the option to print your boarding pass on a printer of your choosing or at an airport kiosk, and you can also receive the boarding pass by e-mail, fax or on a mobile device. Ticket agents also can give you a paper boarding pass.
Checking in on Continental.com, I decided to get my boarding pass for this morning's flight sent to my Blackberry, where I'd be able to scan it at Gate 6 in Orlando Airport to board the plane.
Fortunately, I also received a paper copy of the boarding pass at curb-side check-in as an insurance policy because this would be the first time I would try scanning the boarding pass from my Blackberry. (And I subscribe to the theory: Just because you are paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you.)
After all of those luckier-than-me first-class and Continental Elite passengers went through the boarding process, they called my row 24 and I sauntered up to the gate to scan my boarding pass on my Blackberry.
It didn't work, of course.
The flight attendant asked me if I could make the barcode image larger on the device.
"That usually works," she said.
With a bunch of people waiting behind me to board the flight, I wasn't about to fiddle around with enlarging the image.
So, I pulled the paper boarding pass out of my shirt pocket and used that instead.
Many airlines don't yet give you the ability to scan your boarding pass from your mobile device.
Continental does, but hasn't worked out all the kinks yet.
Or maybe not.
Because new processes always take time to sort themselves out.
On my flight, it was nice to see there was Directv in the seatbacks.
But, it didn't work, either.
A flight attendant told me she received a memo that the service on board would be down for 10 days while Directv was peforming some upgrades or other tweaks.
And, for the prior couple of days, while PhoCusWright conference attendees and judges were trying to gauge best-in-show at the Travel Innovation Summit, it also struck me as odd -- or not -- that trying to figure out which of the submissions would be the next big thing often is a crapshoot.
Great products sometimes dry up because the timing wasn't ripe, funding didn't materialize or management was stupid.
Then again, perhaps one of the entries which few people had much faith in will strike a chord with consumers and be the next Kayak or Expedia.
Amadeus Affinity Shopper took the top prize, and some people found it odd or unfortunate that the innovation award went to a product from a company with 9,000 employees and 2008 revenue of EUR 2,861.4m.
I was sort of rooting for another one of the four finalists, Gliider, with its four employees, hardly enough for a garage band.
Ya, travel tech can be an odd space -- but that's what also makes it fun and interesting.