The Joys Of Business Travel

I took the overnight flight from JFK to CDG Paris. We arrived an hour late and even though we rushed through the maze of terminals that is CDG, we got to the gate a minute or two before the departure time and were told we could not get on the plane to Ljubljana. To make matters worse there is only one direct flight from CDG to Ljubljana each day and that was the flight we were on. It was painful to watch it fold up the stairs and back away without us on it.

So now we are in the gate awaiting a flight to Frankfurt where will will attempt to race across the airport and catch a connecting flight to Ljubljana from that airport.

Anyone who does a significant amount of business travel has had this sort of thing happen to them multiple times. I used to let it stress me out. Now I am pretty zen about it.

If we miss our connecting flight in Frankfurt I may be in need of restaurant recommendations in Frankfurt.

#Blogging On The Road

Comments (Archived):

  1. Brandon Burns

    What takes you to the quite random destination of Slovenia?

    1. fredwilson

      Our portfolio company Zemnata is based there and there are some interesting BTC companies there as well

  2. Richard

    Zen after missing your connection is good, zen (visualizing) making your connection is better :)The best thing about waiting in line for anything is that you own that time, its free time to do about anything your mind desires.

  3. Dan Goldin

    I’ve found Foursquare to be awesome in getting recommendations in new places – I’d expect you to be able to think of using that!

    1. fredwilson

      I’ve already done that and if I could figure out how to embed a link into a post written in a mobile browser I would do that

      1. pointsnfigures… looks good

        1. fredwilson

          Nice! I made my flight

  4. William Mougayar

    Once, we missed a flight to Paris because the cut-off time happened between checking us in, and checking our luggage. We’re talking about that 30 second interval. So we had to go through Frankfurt to get into Paris with a 6 hour extra, and it forced us to cancel one lunch reservation. Worse things have happened in life.In your case, at least you’ve got your mi-Fi and electronic toys, so being connected makes up for all this aggravation. Plus, you get to practice your French a little longer at the airport or on Foursquare πŸ™‚

  5. JLM

    .Fred, you continue to amaze.JLM.

  6. bfeld

    Zen = good. Video conferencing = better. Enjoy Ljubljana – what a beautiful place.

    1. Russell


    2. fredwilson

      I agree but I havent been in three years. Its time to show up again

      1. bfeld


    3. ShanaC

      my dad is in your camp. He also owes me a system πŸ™‚

  7. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Ljubljana …. sounds like a good one for ‘spelling bee’ competition.

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. I hope that lovely city forgives me for the hundreds of times I have mispelled it. I may have done so in the post

  8. Tom Labus

    Head to a bar and have a large beer or two.Safe travels

  9. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Missing connecting flight is fun as an employee….I have missed twice when i flew to Milwaukee ….You get one more day of paid-vacation and you get half-of-jetlag done at the hotel.

    1. Tyler Hayes

      Being in a controlled lost state is wonderful.

  10. dave

    I was flying into SFO last Saturday when the plane headed south for Las Vegas.When we landed we were told to deplane, but stay near the gate and btw, take all your stuff with you. That was a pretty good signal we were never getting on the plane again. Two hours later the flight was cancelled.And that was just the beginning! Oy. But they had a good excuse, there was a crash at SFO and the airport was closed.United had me booked on a flight Tuesday night to SFO. Lucky for me I managed to talk my way onto a flight on Saturday night. πŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      Did you hit the craps tables?

      1. dave

        No, not my thing. πŸ˜‰

  11. Matt A. Myers

    My father was a commercial airline pilot – and a lot of times we’d traveled on stand-by tickets. You learn to have patience and to ‘entertain’ yourself. It’s definitely a state of zen you’re in once you get good at it – a time of rest (yin) or movement (yang). It’s helpful to acknowledge which one you are in, and when a point of transition is occurring – when yang has moved to its upmost and then is now time for rest, or when yin has rested to its upmost then it is time to move / get busy again.I’m just about to book a flight to Amsterdam using AirMiles to visit a friend, and then will be headed to Paris to visit another friend. Hoping to make London and maybe Glasgow too – though not sure how rushed I want to be.Good luck catching the flight to Ljubljana!

    1. LE

      “My father was a commercial airline pilot”Matt goes up 50 points in my ranking system. What I always wanted to be but my Dad discouraged me.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        He started off in Air Cadets, where he learned to fly. He had VW vans when he was a teenager, apparently 6 of them at one point, and would use old ones for parts to fix the other ones up. He went to school for engineering. Then he became a dentist – for the army. Then he opened up a dental clinic. It was after that he became a commercial airline pilot. Then he got kidney cancer when I was 8 years old (increased rate of kidney cancer in airline pilots), and hasn’t been able to work for the past 22 years because of two different occurrences of malpractice – parents didn’t sue – I don’t know why, life totally changed after that. Then he got into computers hardware, etc.. so I had access to them.

  12. pointsnfigures

    Frustrating. You can’t control it. I recently had a horrible experience with American Airlines-won’t fly them again if I can help it. Internationally I try to fly any non-American based carrier. Level of service is much higher. Inside the US, I fly Southwest ($LUV).

    1. LE

      “had a horrible experience with American Airlines-won’t fly them again if I can help it”I’ve never understood why when choosing among different carriers all groveling to make a buck in a tough market why people feel that the carriers actually have control and can so easily avoid sucky situations as you describe. As if some management consultant should just be brought in and they will be able to solve all these problems. They can’t they have a legacy workforce, stockholders and all sorts of stakeholders to satisfy. It’s pretty much an unsolvable equation. If one carrier is clearly superior to all others there is a reason for it that the others can’t duplicate.This is an artifact of competition and everybody scrambling to make a buck in a cut throat business.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Airlines are designed for operations, not customer experience.

  13. awaldstein

    If you travel, stuff happens.It kinda sucks as it feels disrespectful to the meetings at the other side.This randomly makes me think of this old wonderful movie.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Speaking of William Hurt and old movies, ever see Altered States? Smart Sci-Fi/horror written by Paddy Chayefsky.

      1. awaldstein

        Nope, will check it out.But did watch The Big Chill and the John Sayles original, The Return of the Secaucus Seven a while ago.

        1. LE

          Big Chill was great. Was pretty much the forerunner to things like thirtysomething and that whole genre.(thirtysomething was also unique to me in it’s titling (no spacing bold right next to regular type) being in graphics at the time that wasn’t the way things were done. The Mac (1984) is what made things like that easily possible.Re: “Return of the Secaucus 7” I just read this:…”writer/director Lawrence Kasdan has denied having seen Return of the Secaucus 7 before working on The Big Chill”Entirely possible and goes with the theory or whatever that different people can have the same ideas simultaneously and even if one person hadn’t invented something key someone else would have came along and done the same later.

          1. awaldstein

            Hey…I’m a Kasden fan and a huge John Sayles fan.Maybe its hear say but that’s the word from the indie film underground.Great film. One of the original great sound tracks.

  14. LIAD

    only flight I ever missed was as a student leaving Amsterdam.can’t imagine how that happened.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Drew Meyers

      only flight i’ve ever missed was from tokyo to seoul in 2010 – massive lines due to the iceland volcanic eruption meant I was still sitting in the check-in line when the flight left.

  15. CPNY

    Hi Fred, I understand Sachsenhausen is a part of Frankfurt which would be interesting to look for a restaurant. Cider (applewine) is the big regional thing if you like that. While I am from Germany (now living in NY) I have not spend too much time in Frankfurt, but understand you will not be disappointed looking in that area.

    1. kenberger

      i just suggested that too for “dive pubs”. so maybe it is net family friendly.

      1. CPNY

        Just saw your comment, I do not see a problem there in regards to family friendliness!

    2. fredwilson


  16. Samir

    I assume you were on the 710 flight – I took that exact flight too. I do love the top deck of the A380. But how ridiculous is CDG? I got 1 weeks worth of exercise sprinting to a 1010 flight to Berlin (another great place you should spend some time in while in Europe!)

    1. fredwilson

      I took the late Air France flight

  17. AlexHammer

    The Zen of travelThere is a saying, “new level, new devil”. Once we master one level of coping and success, that prepares us for the next higher level.So even though the challenges, are greater, so, also, are our personal resources that we bring to bear.

  18. William Mougayar

    For the best 100 European restaurants, here’s “the” list that my friend Steve Plotnicki curates from a select group of diners votes. Sadly, none in Frankfurt.http://2013.opinionatedabou…Another safe list is the Michelin Bib Gourmand list:

  19. kenberger

    Sachsenhausen is an atmospheric fun dive pub area of Frankfurt. Imagine ancient cobblestone streets lined with very old traditional German buildings, some of which with Deutsche heavy metal bands playing! At least that was my experience getting snowed in overnight 1 winter 10 years ago. I had a blast. Not sure how family friendly.Photos:

  20. mikenolan99

    “… I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be. “Douglas Adams

  21. andyidsinga

    roadtrip! …or night train?When I lived in Russia – taking overnight trains was *THE BEST*. ..leave St. Petersburg wake up in Moscow – hello convenience.

    1. jason wright

      very backpacker

      1. andyidsinga

        Indeed I did use a large backpack. πŸ™‚ nowadays wife and I travel *very* light…Here’s my current go bag :

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Night traveling can be horrible if you’re passing through borders where they require passport checks … Flashlights in your face when you were just sleeping isn’t pleasant..

      1. jason wright

        stay inside Schengen, and count bitcoins all night long πŸ™‚

      2. JimHirshfield

        Oh, I used to get the flashlight treatment at home, in my own bed, thanks to little boys that love flashlights. πŸ˜‰

      3. andyidsinga

        ah – so true! I once had trouble going from ukraine > slovakia > czechDidn’t have a visa – oops – those were my younger days of just jumping on a train and going anywhere :)Note to Canadians: never assume that you can just go anywhere Americans can without a visa (and vice versa).

    3. fredwilson

      My daughter was supposed to take that train from Moscow to St Pete this week but it was totally booked the day she wanted to go.

      1. andyidsinga


      2. andyidsinga

        oh! btw, if she hasnt been, and interested in this sort of thing : The paintings of Aivazovsky in The Russian museum are must see. …one of my fav haunts when I lived there

        1. fredwilson

          in St Pete?

          1. andyidsinga


          2. fredwilson

            She’s got it on her plan. She’s a huge art lover and artist

          3. jason wright

            St. Petersburg? Did you bump in to Grigory Perelman? I’d like to know if he is Satoshi Nakamoto.and why is Russia buying up gold?

          4. andyidsinga

            i think root@eruditorum.Ε“rg is Satoshi Nakamoto πŸ˜‰

  22. jason wright

    the joys of a private jet. collaborative consumption in the sharing economy πŸ™‚

  23. awaldstein

    Fred–when you get to Slovinia and are out to dinner, Vitovska is my favorite indigenous white grape. Most bottles are called out by the variety so easy to spot.

    1. fredwilson

      Done! Been a long day even for a short one.

  24. Dale Allyn

    Fred, a Zen (or chilled) travel attitude will serve you well (as you know). It’s fascinating to watch people melt-down when travel plans meet a twist. Getting upset typically has the same net outcome (or worse) as calmly shrugging it off and arranging the fix, but the latter gets you there in better shape. Stuff happens…Happy trails.

  25. jason wright

    i woke up in Chamonix one Sunday morning in March, the Vernal equinox Sunday morning in March, with a plane to catch in Geneva at 1pm. You can probably guess what happened.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Merde!F1 racing through the French countryside?

      1. jason wright

        after the three ‘on the fly’ trains and an F1 taxi ride through Geneva i made the gate by 90 seconds. there was an absence of zen throughout.

  26. Abs Ghosh

    Fred, if you do make it to Ljubljana and like jazz, check out Jazz Club Gajo – I was there a few years ago and it was quite decent…

    1. fredwilson


  27. Jeff

    Zen is the only way to be about business travel, otherwise you turn in to the monster businessman yelling at gate agents while they quietly smile back at you and proceed to book you on future, inopportune flights πŸ™‚

  28. JimHirshfield

    This same exact thing happened to me last time I headed to Central Europe. CDG is just such a big airport. Thankfully there was another flight to Zagreb a little bit later. But I almost missed that one because they wanted me to exit the terminal and go thru security again. Geez!Yeah, zen is a good place to park your head. Good luck. And have fun in LJU when you get there. SO nice.

  29. jason wright

    miss the plane out of Ljubljana, go to Bled, walk Vintgar Gorge, have lunch at the castle, and reaffirm your vows at the church on the island in the middle of the lake. you have to take a very small rowing boat, then carry your ‘bride’ up the long flight of steps from the mooring to the church (it’s traditional), and then jump in the lake (which i made up).

    1. fredwilson

      Gotham Gal is not with me on this trip but if she were i would so do that

    2. Paul Sanwald

      you forgot the cream cake! πŸ™‚ my wife and I went hiking through the julian alps a few years back and did exactly this, except for the jump in the lake part.

      1. jason wright

        discovery time – i didn’t know about the cake. all the more reason to do it πŸ™‚

      2. ShanaC

        what is this thing – can I make this?

  30. jason wright

    BTC and Ljubljana. i hope this isn’t going to get Slovenia the status of ‘rogue state’ in years to come

  31. Donna Brewington White

    I felt a bit of trepidation writing “bon voyage” on your 4sq checkin headed to France, but when I plugged “safe travels” into Google translate this is what came up — safe is all I have the optimism for with flights these days. Two of my flights during business trips canceled last month. If walking along the streets of NYC wasn’t exciting enough try rescheduling the last flight out that night leaving from a completely different airport while surrounded by New Yorkers getting off work. I had arranged earlier that day with my hailo driver an intricate plan for picking me up from my last appointment, retrieving my luggage from the hotel and heading for La Guardia at the end of his shift and had to call him while he was en route to cancel.Amazing though how so much of my travel is now supported by apps once I’m on the road. From the apps offered by online travel services to airlines to Hailo, Uber, Google Navigator and 4sq. Except for that flight cancellation I didn’t have to make a call and rarely used my web browser. And I don’t have that envelope of boarding passes, reservations and itineraries that I used to carry.But I do have extra battery, external battery and charger.

    1. fredwilson

      I tried apps but the air france customer service agent was the better answer today

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I loves apps, but sometimes the human touch is the ticket. (no pun intended)Speaking of “Human Touch” — an all-time favorite by Springsteen.

  32. ShanaC

    If you get stuck in Germany, you may want to try the beer

    1. fredwilson


      1. Vineeth Kariappa

        If u r still in transit, please read n this n do tell your opinion, in not less than 100 characters. http://spaceshiptimemachine

  33. LE

    “If we miss our connecting flight in Frankfurt I may be in need of restaurant recommendations in Frankfurt.”Old school. Same way I got a referral on a restaurant for a first date with my now wife (was 2008) instead of online.

  34. laurie kalmanson

    safe travelsthe us has a train gap.and when you get to where you’re going, there you are.

  35. Pablo

    We often forget how UNBELIEVABLE it is to essentially be able to tele-transport yourself from a continent to another in only a few hours of being in a plane – and let ourselves be “annoyed” by small details such as cancellations, re routes, delays, etc.I love this lous CK clip about it all:

    1. fredwilson

      i love that too.

  36. Mordy Kaplinsky

    time for those chartered jets πŸ™‚

    1. LE

      My first reaction to this was that I fully support this as a way to spend Fred’s money!Then I realized that by doing this it wouldn’t be simply a matter of Fred doing this when Fred needs to if it made sense despite the cost.It would also involve setting a precedent which could have an impact on how others at USV travel and consequently the cost could inevitably multiply greatly.It reminds me of a time when I had a manager work for me that ended up being a friend. He felt entitled to mimick what I did and so I had to think twice (which I really hated) because the impact of how I spent my time, or what I purchased (with *my* money) also meant he might do the same and it might cost me much more in the end that that individual decision. Related in a way to when you have more than one kid you can’t just buy a toy for one of them. I hate things like this.

      1. Mordy Kaplinsky

        How we all love spending other people’s money :)But the subject you brought up is rather interesting. There obviously needs to be a an understanding and appreciation for an array of factors that justify various expenditures.When I was younger I would look at people who flew business as wasters, but after travelling to Asia and getting an upgrade I came to understand the value of various expenditures which at first glance appear over the top.The perfect example is Warren Buffett who lives in a modest home and drives a Ford Taurus yet has a private jet. For him the value of the time saved means that flying commercial is betraying his fiduciary responsibility to his companies and shareholders.

        1. LE

          Agree.”but after travelling to Asia and getting an upgrade”I remember the first time I was upgraded to first class. It really did feel good and made me feel special. Who cares if it was all in my head? (Most things are, right?)And with Buffet he doesn’t care about where he lives or what he drives (as if he drives at all I mean I wouldn’t think that would be safe for a billionaire anyway that is so well known).If he did care about houses he would buy himself a nicer house, right? Just like Fred who wants to be in NYC in a certain neighborhood. Because he values that.In any case, Buffet’s joy in life is being Buffet. Imagine the smoke that gets blow up the (you know what) when you are that guy? That’s much better than any material good.I hate that whole thing about him living in the same house from years ago and the low value of it and all. As if that makes him so special and frugal etc. Many ways to skin a cat. Trump, while not nearly as rich, has made a name for himself by being the exact opposite person.

  37. Serial Eclectic

    CDG is a major cluster, probably my least fav place when trying to make a connecting flight

  38. Paul Jozefak

    Fred, I lived in Frankfurt for years. There is only one thing really “Frankfurt” and that’s the cider…..which you can totally skip. Sachsenhausen is also all kinds of done. It’s only for pub crawling Brits and other tourists. One place in a lovely part of town (Westend) is Surf & Turf. Yeah, you can get plenty of this in NYC but this place is genuinely good and has a nice ambiance. Very pricey but I am sure you can swing it. (… Another place belonging to the same restaurant group is Ivory Club. Totally different vibe but also usually a good experience. (… Let’s hope though you don’t have to take any of these recommendations and get to Slovenia as planned. Happy travels!

  39. Tracey Jackson

    You can try Skyping with Edward Snowden – he’s stuck in the airport with some spare time on his hands.

  40. SallyBroom

    What a pain. If the Tripbod network can help along the way, do shout – and we have awesome Tripbods in Slovenia (so much so that’s probably going to be our next vacation destination)

  41. skanga

    Zen is easily lost once you get on a trip that takes 54 hours. Don’t even ask!

    1. Cam MacRae

      I’ve had a few of them. A couple if weeks ago I watched a movie and a half before we even pushed back. I don’t get mutinous unless the grog stops flowing.

  42. JamesHRH

    Isn’t it Gov. Jerry Brown who said ‘It is what it is.”?Zen – it’s the answer to the uncontrollable.

  43. Roland Turner

    Twice in a 30 day period last year I took long haul flights with connections, one at CDG, one somewhere in the US. In both cases the incoming flight was delayed. In both cases I ran the length of the airport and just made the connecting flight as they were closing it. In both cases my suitcase didn’t make the connection.Suitcases can’t sprint.I have since decided that when I’m travelling long distance with connecting flights to choose flights separated by several hours. I’d rather “waste” a couple of hours breathing clean, well-oxygenated air – and taking a shower in airports where that’s possible – to give baggage handlers time to get my suitcase from plane to plane than have to deal with an involuntary shopping expedition at my destination!

  44. Lee Blaylock

    Your comments ring so true. I’ve lived in 3 and been to 32 countries and the only way to fix that travel problem is one of the following in descending order: BBJ, G650, GV or GIV for certain shorter routes…. Of course, you could go Google style in their “eco friendly” 767-200…. ;-O)I lived near Frankfurt for 2 years back in the 90s when I worked for Dell Europe and it is a great town. Highly underrated. Sachsenhausen area is the heart of the culture and straddles the Main river. Schweizer Straße is the main drag with lots of fun local places.Ich wuenche dir einen schoenin reise!

  45. Renaud Anjoran

    CDG Paris is organized as 4 separate airports, since its terminals don’t connect for flight transfers. Very inconvenient.

  46. Aaron

    Have you tried these guys? sure it would have helped in this case but could be useful for other travel related issues.*Disclaimer, Brett is a friend and someone I’ve worked with before and by far the most knowledgeable travel guy I know.

  47. OurielOhayon

    you must have a damn good reason to travel that far. can t wait to see who this was for

  48. markslater

    love that part of the world. Our dev center is in belgrade and i made that trip this year. We are also very active with taxi’s in croatia believe it or not. We launch in 5 cities this week…. dont ask me how this happened and its not core to our business right now – but its really enjoyable working with folks from that region….Its just a shame that the war set them back a number of years….

  49. Ana Milicevic

    Glad you made it to SLO. I travel to South-East Europe often from NYC and tend to prefer connecting through Germany or Switzerland vs. through France. CDG is terrible for connecting flights unless you have hours of padding or are spending some time in France.

  50. Huntmorr

    Do you offset your travel? I fly a lot for work and personally and, despite being quite vocal about the importance of offsetting, very rarely get around to offsetting myself. I’ve come to realize that it’s the least I can do for tearing up the planet as such. Your post reminded me to take care of last month’s offsets.

  51. CJ

    Sounds like an episode of the Amazing Race!

  52. Esayas Gebremedhin

    I actually was in Frankfurt on that day (psychic?). If you should get there again, I can recommend you a restaurant run by a beautiful friend of mine (Kurat = Proud). It’s called “Im Herzen Afrikas”:

  53. Chris

    Missed my (short) connection in Frankfurt last week because we were parked on a remote stand with slow bus, huge queue at security and then connecting gate miles away. Unbelievably, Lufthansa blamed me for not making the connection and charged me “only” €120. WTF? Why don’t big companies understand long term customer value in these situations?

  54. us0r

    I do Air France from Europe to LA once a month. One thing I learned about them is they consider the departure time on the ticket to be actual wheel up time.