back to article Support contract required techie to lounge around in a $5,000/night hotel room

Welcome once again to On-Call, The Register’s weekly wander through readers’ recollections of being asked to perform tech support under all sorts of strange circumstances, most of them difficult. But not always. This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Frank" who once worked for a vendor of high-end, mission-critical …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, a nice week-end then

    The client was an idiot. If the decision was to not do anything before Monday morning, the client should have arranged for him to arrive Sunday night.

    Oh well, I'm sure that the beancounter shook his head at all this.

    1. Valeyard

      Re: So, a nice week-end then

      The client was an idiot

      I'm not so sure. To an IT bod it's an extravagance, but for the client involved ~15k for the confidence of safety net with a guy on the ground is absolute peanuts giving the importance of the event surrounding it.

      Client gets to sleep peacefully at night at home, Frank gets to sleep on a bed made of clouds. I think everyone came out on top

      1. Paul Cooper

        Re: So, a nice week-end then

        Given the nature of the contract, I'd imagine that£15k would be a very small item in the overall bill!

        1. CountCadaver Silver badge

          Re: So, a nice week-end then

          Plus govt contract means the bill isn't going to be an issue, especially on something so high profile. £15k on many govt projects is a rounding error

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: So, a nice week-end then

        Peaceful top-executive sleep is priceless -- especially when it's not the executive's pesonal money ensuring it. "Get a tech out here, now. Don't give me details, just make it happen."

        1. Wzrd1 Silver badge

          Re: So, a nice week-end then

          "Get a tech out here, now. Don't give me details, just make it happen."

          That way, if things go sideways badly, they can point to the vendor being responsible.

    2. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: So, a nice week-end then

      If it was say a single disk failure in a RAID array then it is not urgent and he could wait until Monday, but if a 2nd disk fails then suddenly it is becomes urgent. They were paying to have somebody on hand who could fix it if it became urgent.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: So, a nice week-end then

        "They were paying to have somebody on hand who could fix it if it became urgent."

        If Frankdidn't really consider himself a ninja it's more like paying to have someone who they thought could fix it. But they were happy anyway - it's all in the mind.

        1. Conor Stewart

          Re: So, a nice week-end then

          Likely Frank was just there in case anything needed done physically, like swapping drives, hitting the power button, etc. it is likely that the problem was able to be solved remotely by people more experienced or at least Frank was able to get in contact with more experienced people.

          The department of justice likely wanted to have somewhere else to place the blame, like their support provider, so the support provider needs to do absolutely everything whilst the department of justice IT staff just step back and do nothing, hence all responsibility and blame is on the support provider.

    3. mickaroo

      Re: So, a nice week-end then

      I do pharmaceutical consulting now, but I used to work for a large, multinational pharma company.

      Said company had run foul of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We were in an all-hands information meeting to share the findings of the FDA audit, and its impact. One impact was a fine of several hundred million U.S. dollars. One person in the audience asked about the fine. The presenter at the podium replied, without missing a beat, "It's budgeted"

      $15,000 is pocket lint.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: So, a nice week-end then

        $15,000 is pocket lint.

        Not even that for the biggest companies. We sold our software firm to ${HUGE_US_CORP} Inc for a 9 figure sum. That amount didn't even show in the quarterly accounts. Their phrase for it was "decimal dust".

      2. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

        Re: So, a nice week-end then

        I used to work for a large, multinational pharma company.

        Said company had run foul of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

        But you repeat yourself...

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: So, a nice week-end then

      The order was not to touch anything FOR NOW. They wanted someone there in case things got worse, and then they wanted someone in easy walking distance to do a whole lot of touching!

    5. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: So, a nice week-end then

      Really you want to have a worker do the job on mission critical system very much straight off the plane, without a chance to recharge and relax properly?

      This is a recipe for disaster.

      Take into account that such trip probably wastes worker's Saturday (having to bring forward Sunday shopping and whatnot) and Sunday would then be wholly trip orientated. So after week's of hardwork, worker effectively lost their time to relax and in such state would be pushed to work on Monday.

      Whereas if they fly Friday evening, sure - they have to postpone their weekend plans wholly, but they get two full days to get their energy back.

      If the posting was successful (in the sense that worker did everything they could), I would have given them Tuesday off to take the edge off.

      Beancounters often forget that behind the spreadsheet, there is a living and breathing person.

    6. tracker1

      Re: So, a nice week-end then

      It was probably an array in a degrades but working status.. The order was to wait unless it went down. The guy was in standby in case it went down.

      It's actually pretty understandable

  2. wyatt

    I had to go to Monaco for a 10 minute job. Flew reasonably BA and then helicopter transfer from Nice. It was a few days after the Grand Prix so all the advertising boards were still up. I then spent 8 hours in a comms room chasing the customers IT team whilst waiting for a port to be changed to half duplex (yep was a while ago!). Ruined what could have been an awesome jolly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've already told this story. I spent a whole weekend walking the marvelous Paris after a 45-minute job (and that's counting the whole trip from my hotel to the customer's office and back) when I was summoned on a Thursday to fly from Argentina to the city of light. Stale Red Hat cluster with a misconfigured grub.conf. Reboot one node at the time, fix boot menu, reboot.

      Never quite understood why didn't Big Blue decided to address this issue with some local bloke instead of sending me on a 16.000 km round-trip voyage, but I still appreciate the free trip...

      1. Yes Me Silver badge
        WTF?

        Why

        This is why I sold my Big Blue Shares...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I once got sent to Monaco - for a few days. Old scoolfriend of the boss who'd "done a nice deal" selling some software he'd developed to one of the big players - we were just a 15 man IT services outfit on the arse end of nowhere. But anyway, he needed help with the networking in his apartment - so I was sent out with some supplies and tools. Yes, the helicopter flight from Nice to Monaco was nice, the view of the gin palaces as the taxi drove round the harbour was "eye opening", the view from his apartment wasn't bad - but in 3 days I didn't set foot outside of his apartment until it was time to get the taxi back to the heliport.

      Still, been the most exotic jolly I've ever had.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Several decades ago I arrived in Macau right after the Grand Prix weekend. Most of the racing circuit barriers were still up, so there were sections of main road where all the normal intersections were blocked off and the traffic was very light. We were in a small minivan taxi heading to our hotel, so every time we got onto a stretch of the circuit the driver floored the accelerator and was having the time of his life!

    3. JT_3K

      Less glamorous but I did Bulgaria a fair bit in a previous role. Company had a Dutch office (and line manager was Dutch) so I flew a lot of KLM in to and through Amsterdam.

      One morning I arrived at Manchester Airport at 3am for the requisite 05:50 Amsterdam service (hopping to Bulgaria) to find that my ticket hadn't been booked. I showed them all the confirmations but they advised that I'd not approved the ticket payment, it'd simply reserved the tickets for 48hrs and then released them, all without any email/phone/KLM warning. I'm convinced to this day that I did pay but their systems didn't take the money and finalise. I explained to the CFO what had happened and he was fine with it.

      Knowing I was running a round of interviews that afternoon in Sofia, I had no choice but to pay for the last ticket on the plane: first class both legs. This was hurredly rushed through and caused quite a lot of surprise on the Bulgarian national carrier that undertook the second leg as I don't think anyone really paid for those seats. They seemed excited to open a bottle of complimentary champagne and kept insisting on topping up the glass - it'd have been rude not to accept at that point.

      I never again saw anyone in first class on that flight.

  3. David Newall

    I was called to Tasmania and the only flight available was first class. And it was lovely.

    1. Mark #255

      Humph. The best I've managed is York to Kings Cross and back (1st class seats are nice though)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Similar here. Scored "nice" hotels a couple of times over the years, c£500/night, but rarely had the time to do more than enjoy a nice evening meal, sleep, a nice breakfast and then moving on. Not by any stretch of the imagination like the articles hero or many of the stories recounted in the comments, but still a nice treat :-)

        1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

          I once (well a few times) was required to attend a technical audit (no bean counters) over most of the week using a very costly hotel this was so long ago that credit cards were not that common, I had one but the very senior attendees didntt. It was amusing to pay the very high bill at the end so quickly whereas all the other attendees had to pay using many cheques each as they couldn't garuantee more than £50 at a time... Yes, I was paid those expenses in full later - mostly because I was required to use the same hotel as all the Director....

          It was very comfortable, first time I got to drink wine at several hundreds a glass. Those were the days!

      2. James Wilson

        I only got Reading to Cardiff. I had to get the travel people to update the internal system from 'never allow first class' to 'only allow first class if it's cheaper than a standard ticket'. Ah, the joys of rail ticket pricing in the UK.

        Sadly I was never able to convince them to allow me to book first class when it was 50p more than standard even if I paid the extra myself. Fair enough I suppose, there would be an admin cost to all that, but annoying.

    2. adam 40 Silver badge

      Virgin on the Ridiculous

      Been on Virgin Upper a few times, on expenses natch, and spent many an hour at the bar upstairs.

      Also, the massueuse... what a nice lady.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Virgin on the Ridiculous

        I used to work for a company in the UK whose travel policy said that anything over five hours could be in business, but it had to be the cheapest the travel system suggested. Some bright spark worked out that if you searched for flights in a fifteen minute window the you could get Virgin Upper Class. Sadly this meant enduring free, unlimited champagne and a jacuzzi.

        As we don't have a free cocktails icon -->

      2. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

        Re: Virgin on the Ridiculous

        I had to go to Atlanta via Virgin Ambassador class, as it was non-stop direct. I was never quried over the price. But the beancounters refused to let me use the arrranged accomodation even though it was discounted to almost nothing - awkward in the meetings as that was where the 'event' was being held - but I did get a decent Motel.

    3. Flightmode

      I've mentioned this before, but I got to do the European tour once - From Amsterdam to London, next day to Paris, the day after that to Frankfurt and then back to Amsterdam. All in business class, and I had a job that took about 30 minutes to do (that had to be done in the night-time maintenance window) in each city. Afternoon flight, taxi to hotel, dinner, catnap, taxi to site, work, taxi back, few hours of sleep, late breakfast, taxi to airport. The assistant who booked the tour for me had booked the main national airline leaving each country (KLM->BA->Air France->Lufthansa) so I had access to the biggest lounge at each airport. The hotels were decent but nowhere near the standard in the article, but the flights were comfortable.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Similarish

    Our company at the time were migrating lots of remote sites to the new standard, and I had just completed this opco's offices in Rome and had agreed to have my return flight later in the week so I could spend some time there, Alas, got asked if I could head up to Milan as there were noises that it was not going well and they could do with an extra set of hands, so, off I go - Eurostar up (cheap compared to how we get ripped off), and then into my hotel. Same as the team who were there, but my room was like this one. Huge, no expenses spared.

    Even another guy from our office was sent over - hot got some crap room/hotel. Thing is, we were not really needed.

    Wasted a few days in Rome, but Milan was a good laugh

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    failed meeting

    Once, I was summoned by my new Boss to be the next day at 12:00 in Bratislava, for a critical (life or death) meeting for a prospect. I was THE man !

    0 idea of the context, nor the customer, but was told by Boss that "John, will tell you all before the meeting".

    I had never met John, who was in another country.

    After spending the rest of the day booking flights, I got up a 5am to take the first flight.

    I met John in Wien. He asked me about the context, since ... He knew nothing, LOL.

    After a life threatening taxi drive from Wien to Bratislava at 150 km/H, on a road with a tree every 10 meters on both sides, and a dodgy surface, we arrived at the prospect.

    We shook hands, introduced ourselves and they explained they were after someone to develop apps (Android and other platforms).

    John and myself looked at each other and embarrassingly explained that:

    - we are IT outsourcing people, not devs

    - our company doesn't actually do development, nowhere !!

    5 mins later, we were back to the taxi, life threatening drive back to Wien, a drink at the airport and John and me went back to our respective countries.

    I arrived back home at 10:30pm, entirely exhausted and spent 10 mins asking what the fuck I had achieved today !

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: failed meeting

      ...what the fuck I had achieved today

      I gave up on wanting to achieve anything long ago. Also long ago, I was summoned to a meeting with a prospect in Geneva. Due to an unrelated incident, I had spent most of the the night before the meeting in ER. Early morning, treated, showered and feeling well again, I headed to Geneva. Sitting in a café in Geneva and trying to prepare for the meeting, I learnt that my presence was no longer required - a message I received the night before but missed thanks to my stint in the hospital. So, getting the first seat available and heading back home. And only there I realised how high I was flying - drugged to the eyeballs and completely out of my mind, it probably wasn't too bad that I didn't meet the prospect. Achievement of that day: having a cuppa in Geneva.

      1. Richard Pennington 1

        Re: failed meeting

        ... and attracting the attention of the drug cops as you crossed the border, as they tried to figure out why you were still high after the plane had landed ...

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: failed meeting

      As the face of IT for traders at a large European bank, I was once sent to a meeting at Euronext's headquarters in Paris by my boss, the head of the investment arm of the bank, without much context - I'd learn about it on location (not a first).

      Flown there in the early morning and, when I got to the meeting, all other attendees were the heads (or close enough) of their respective banks or investment arms. It was a meeting about the Euronext's business plans and future directions and a market consultation with their top clients, to which I could not contribute in any meaningful way. Waited for the end, didn't speak to almost anyone as I'd nothing in common with the others and had only spoken to one of the attendees before that day...

      At least catering was good, I had a great meal and drinks there, but a tiresome and wasted day anyway

    3. Bebu Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: failed meeting

      《met John in Wien.》

      At least your lot knew that Wien isn't somewhere in/near Denmark. :(

      Real effort to keep a straight face when suggesting that to get to Wien it would faster going via Vienna than Copenhagen.

      Not talking citizens of the US who think kangaroos are endemic in Austria although I recall after another of Dan Quayle's gaffs along that line an (escaped) wallaby collided with a vehicle in Styria about the time Haider was rising to prominence.

      Sobering to consider that if the Quayle from 1990 were a candidate in the 2024 presidential race he would easily be the best candidate.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: failed meeting

        A friend of mine once worked setting up Stalls at Major Expos across Europe. He came into work one morning (early in his career at that job) and was told he had to deliver this stall and set it all up ready for start tomorrow morning, and just follow the Satnav, the boss had programmed the address in.

        My mate quickly checked the Satnav, saw it was aimed at Frankfurt, nodded, and set off from London. At about 6pm that night he arrived in Frankfurt, found the address in the Satnav, but there was no Convention Centre. He found a nearby petrol station, and asked the man behind the counter where to find the Convention Centre. The Man pissed himself laughing and said about 7 hours southwest of here. My mates boss had plugged in Frankfurt an der Oder instead of Frankfurt am Main, and sent him to eastern Germany rather than the slightly larger and better known west German city. Queue a 6 hour panicked drive down the Autobahns and a very late night setup of the Stall.

        Lesson learned, never trust the bosses to get anything right! ;)

        1. Vincent Ballard
          FAIL

          Re: failed meeting

          The best mistaken city story I've heard, which may be apocryphal but I hope that it's true, involved the delivery of a large dragon prop/costume for a performance of Wagner's Ring cycle in his home town of Bayreuth. My source for the story didn't explicitly mention telephones, but the address must have been dictated rather than provided in writing, because the merchandise was sent instead to Beirut.

      2. Yes Me Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: failed meeting

        "At least your lot knew that Wien isn't somewhere in/near Denmark. :("

        Had a friend who worked for a very large router vendor near San FranCisco. The meeting was in Dublin. Flights all seemed to be full, so corporate travel booked him to Heathrow and reserved him a rental car for the last few miles.

        Fortunately he checked the map...

        1. PB90210 Bronze badge

          Re: failed meeting

          If only Boris was still our illustrious leader you could have taken the Boris Bridge he planned to cross the Irish Sea

          (not to be confused with the Boris Garden Bridge he planned to cross the Thames while he was mayor of London... or Boris Island, an imaginary airport on a sand bank in the mouth of the Thames... or.....)

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: failed meeting

            "If only Boris was still our illustrious leader you could have taken the Boris Bridge he planned to cross the Irish Sea"

            Even by US standards, that would still have been a hell of a drive from Heathrow up to Scotland, across to Northern Ireland, then all the way back down to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland :-)

            1. chas49

              Re: failed meeting

              Heathrow to Liverpool, ferry to Dublin. A bit shorter but still not a journey you would plan for this.

            2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: failed meeting

              Frictionless, though, remember that! :-)

            3. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

              Re: failed meeting

              not if you used the Wales to Dublin ferries....

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: failed meeting

                Yeah, but that spoils PB90210's joke about "he Boris Bridge he planned to cross the Irish Sea" :-)

            4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: failed meeting

              Even by US standards, that would still have been a hell of a drive from Heathrow up to Scotland, across to Northern Ireland, then all the way back down to Dublin in the Republic of Ireland

              Nah. I don't know what Boris was proposing for his bridge, exactly, but a little back-of-the-envelope suggests such a trip would only be about 550 miles. That's not a big deal by US standards. Not by mine, anyway. Hell, Las Cruces to San Antonio is longer than that.

              1. JT_3K

                Re: failed meeting

                Yes, but the US (and our German family) don't understand that travelling distance in the UK is not like the US.

                In the US, you can probably knock 550 miles out in around 8hrs +stops. In the UK. you'd probably be a few hours just to make it from Heathrow around to the M1. Assuming you hit bad traffic around the M25, the never ending roadworks around Watford Gap, the usual traffic jam around Birmingham on the M6, the hilarity of the M6 around Manchester and the other fun awaiting you at the top of the M6, plus the 2.5hr ferry crossing with the 1.5hr check in and wait, subject to timetabling and time to unload at the other side...

                ...seems unlikely to be done in twice that.

                1. uccsoundman

                  Re: failed meeting

                  When travelling long distances in the USA, at least in the Eastern half, my rule-of-thumb to calculate the travel time is to use 60mph. With gas, food and bathroom stops, that's usually a good predictor.

              2. uccsoundman

                Re: failed meeting

                When I was younger I could drive about 1000 miles per day, but that left about an hour for a catnap at a truck stop. Now my limit is about 1/2 that; 500 miles in 10 hours (that includes gas and toilet stops and time for some fast-food). If you are in a hurry and have multiple drivers, you can make about 1400 miles in a day. That's a rule of thumb however. On the Eastern seaboard it is less. Out west it is higher, and there's a stretch of road in Texas where the speed limit is 85 mph.

      3. Not Yb Bronze badge

        Re: failed meeting

        "No kangaroos in Austria" isn't just a funny road sign.

        1. NoKangaroosInAustria
          Trollface

          Re: failed meeting

          No, you're right it's not, It's more than that. I even heard that it is used by (self-described) funny, smart lovable persons as a handle.

    4. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: failed meeting

      A few years ago, we sent a whole delegation of the company to $BIG_EUROPEAN_CITY for some workshops to finalize a deal.

      Upon landing, I call a colleague already there to be briefed on the next steps: "Err, haven't you heard? Their new CxO has just called off the deal, meetings are not happening".

      So the 30ish of us enjoyed the pre-booked dinner and hotel night (salesguys not as much as the rest of us after their hopes of bonuses had crashed), met a few colleagues at the local office in the morning and went back home after what was probably the most unproductive business trip of the company's history.

    5. Sam not the Viking Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: failed meeting

      Our new salesman insisted on top-level technical support including the Sales Director visiting a new 'hot enquiry' with the prospect of an immediate order. Although familiar with the machinery type, he was unaware of our product detail, in particular not understanding the conversion between litres and cubic metres....

      Anyway, we arrived at the Consultants with our new rep doing the introductions. Within a few minutes we realised the topic under discussion was far too small for our machinery and explained to the consultant that we had nothing to offer. Nevertheless we made some (I think) helpful suggestions which they appreciated and they asked if we could go through it again with their new graduates. So they got a free afternoon training.

      Our salesman was extremely embarrassed and thought he was going to be sacked (we discussed it) but he learned too. We knew that the consultant would remember us. He did and a month or two later we were asked to assist on a major contract for a utility..... That contract didn't materialise for years, as was typical but we got the job and it was handled by one of the graduates we had 'helped' at that initial enquiry. Good job all round.

      All in all ----->

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: failed meeting

        "in particular not understanding the conversion between litres and cubic metres"

        At least he knew they measured the same sort of thing - pretty good for a salesman.

      2. eionmac

        Re: failed meeting

        A major agricultural irrigation system failed due to USA folk not understanding UK pint is 20 fluid ounces but USA pint was 16 fluid ounces. It cost a lot of time to sort out. Since them I always annotate pump curves as "USA units or UK units". 'Pint' causes problems.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: failed meeting

          I'd have thought a "major agricultural irrigation system" would be scaled in gallons, not pints. But then the US Gall is also different to the UK gall, so...erm...yeah, same problem, as you were :-)

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: failed meeting

          As a rancher/farmer who is currently laying out this year's irrigation system, I can assure you that nobody measures anything in pints[0]. Virtually every spec sheet I've ever seen (and certainly all of them this year), no matter where the parts are built, measure in both US Gallons/hr and Liters/hr.

          [0] Well, to be fair, beer is measured in pints ... and contrary to popular belief, every bar I've been to here in California these last thirty or so years serves beer in 20oz pints ...

  6. Martin-R

    Let the clients book the hotel

    In various jobs over the years, the default corporate policy has always been cheapest flight, hotel etc, even if it means I lose more billable time to travelling than was saved by not taking the more sensible flight, hotel etc... I have found though that if the client is paying anyway, they're often happy to recommend, if not actually book, somewhere for you. So once "up north", what I was expecting from the price to be a pub B&B turned out to be a country house hotel, and I was greeted at the desk with "oh, we've upgraded you to a suite" :-) And in one European city, where the client's offices as basically in the local version of Slough, I found my hotel was in the local version of Covent Garden, next to the opera house and near the parliament. We *like* that sort of client...

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Let the clients book the hotel

      For one of my first ever contracting jobs, the client wanted a face-to-face interview before signing me on. They were based in a beautiful European city and set up the interview for Friday morning. Their support services arranged the flights Thursday evening, hotel, and the airport-hotel and airport-office transfers. The hotel was a grand old art-deco building in the city centre with magnificent views over the adjacent canals, and a fabulously stylish dining room with an even more fabulous menu. After I got the contract, they put me up in that hotel for a couple of weeks while I found a short-term let. Needless to says that was a very enjoyable couple of weeks!!

      Even back in those days when such expenses were 'part and parcel', it was above and beyond the normal expectation. Nowadays my impression is that most companies have slashed their budgets for that type of expenses (except for the C-level suits I would bet))

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Similar, but not *quite* as grand

    Had similar experiences myself. Working for an IT services company for a major client, service desk delivered from Budapest. There were some teething troubles with knowledge/process not long after it went live, so our company arranged for a number of us senior deskside IT engineers to visit to help iron out the problems and get them on their feet.

    The office where the service desk was located was nice and new, the people there were friendly and pleasant, the work went well and took great advantage of our skills and experience.

    What made it an unforgettable trip was realising how cheap Budapest is and that a deluxe 5-star hotel in the city was compliant with company travel policy. So, 5 nights in a huge hotel room with marble bathroom, super-king bed and deluxe dining room, plus lots of thoroughly enjoyable nights out around Budapest with colleagues from all across Europe.

    To this day it remains one of my most memorable work-trip experiences.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got called *back* to the UK from a company jolly...

    And nearly missed the transfer (since a passenger had been taken ill whilst taxiing from the initial departure airport, so we had to loop back to get them medical treatment. As I got off that plane the screens were saying my next flight was "Boarding - Last Call" at a gate on the other side of the airport.

    Never run so fast across an airport in my life - they saw me approaching the gate at a full run, waved me through the door, across the tarmac, up the stairs, closed the door behind me and were taxiing as I took my seat.

    The issue - oh that took several days for them to actually fix a timezone error, and then another month for me to clean up the data that had been screwed over.

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Running in an Airport

      My friend and I were stopped, questioned, and severely lectured by security guards in a U.S. airport for running ("We're laaaate..."). Some things are not as good as they used to be. :-(

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "a deluxe suite in a top global hotel chain"

    So his personal details will have been swept up in a security breach (I'm assuming they've all fallen, irrespective of whether it's been made public or not).

  10. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    Brilliant!

    Really nice job if you can get it.

    Nothing as grand as this, but as a post-doc I once received a very polite letter from a company in Japan, apologizing for interrupting my busy schedule with their letter (printed on very high quality paper), and then asking me whether I would consider being keynote speaker at a conference they were organizing. The conditions were in a separate note included in the envelope. This entailed three nights in one of the premier suites of a top-end hotel in Tokyo, a business-class ticket, and a very, very handsome lecturers fee for 45 minutes of talking about my research (never been paid better). It didn't take very long to reach a decision to accept that invitation. Once there I got a real red carpet treatment, and the suite I had had a bathroom that was way larger than most hotel rooms I have ever been in. Japanese hospitality is totally amazing.

    1. Yes Me Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Brilliant!

      "Japanese hospitality is totally amazing"

      It is. But on a not dissimilar jolly in Osaka, the airline lost my suitcase for a couple of days, and I had to buy a shirt, a tie, and deodorant in a department store where nobody spoke a word of English.

      Miming "I need deodorant" to an audience of female Japanese shop assistants remains one of the highlights of my professional career.

      1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: Brilliant!

        Knowing just a little of a foreign language can equally entertaining. "Watashi no wake ga kusai desu." (~= "My armpit smells like shit.") is as close as I can come to getting the idea across.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Brilliant!

      One of my friends booked a celebration for his father's birthday at the Royal ballet, including dinner, all in his own name. When the party arrived they were treated with great reverence, their table was decorated with wonderful flowers and Champagne was provided 'on the house'. He was bemused. I Go-Ogled his name and found that he shares it with a doctor who did pioneering work treating ballet injuries.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brilliant!

        An ex-collegue was offered a box at the rugby world cup final, unfortunately it was meant for his namesake... the CEO for Scotland!

  11. GlenP Silver badge

    Conference

    I think the best I ever managed was at a corporate conference in Amsterdam. The hotel was two rows of town-houses on adjacent streets with the facilities (kitchens, dining, etc.) in the middle.

    Getting to my room was "interesting". The place was a rabbit warren with twisting corridors and several staircases (up and down) between reception and my room. When I finally opened the room door I discovered yet another set of stairs up to what was really a suite rather than a room! The bedroom area alone was big enough but there was an elevated lounge/office area at one end and a huge bathroom.

    Sadly, in the nature of such conferences, the room was only used for sleeping in and really was wasted on one of the lowliest managers at the event.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Conference

      Had to do a last minute "drive this kit to Amsterdam tonight".

      They put me up at an amazing Japanese hotel in Amsterdam, full of JAL aircrew, in a fantastic suite bigger than my flat.

      Every hour all night I got woken up by a computer alarm that beeped for a second and stopped before I could find it.

      So set my watch to wake me up just before and I was ready to hunt down the source.

      A spare fax machine in the office off the the meeting room was out of paper!

    2. Not Yb Bronze badge

      Re: Conference

      I stayed in a hotel with an elevator only slightly larger than one American and a rolling suitcase. It only stopped on odd numbered floors. It had at least 50 rooms, and I believe 5 or 7 stories.

  12. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Best hotel / worst work travel hotel

    Best was a country house, where I dined on good food in a beautiful garden every evening (it was Summer) with a big boss who had also been flown in for the very urgent job, watching peacocks wander around, whilst agreeing with him that yes it was such nice weather that I think we could manage just one more bottle of this very expensive wine. We both had separate personal chauffeurs too to drive us to and from the office every day, at the same time.

    Worst was one at what looked like a very promising location beside a river in a grand old building. Unfortunately when I got to my room, it was overlooking an ugly courtyard at the back instead of having glorious riverside views. This became much more irritating the next morning as bin and delivery lorries started arriving about 6am with associated cacophony, as they did every morning I was there.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And I thought I had it good.

    I once went on a business trip that included visiting every branch of a Hawaiian bank on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, and Maui. That was more than ten years ago, but I'm still in awe of the people who commute to and from work, every weekday, on a A320.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: And I thought I had it good.

      This is before Covid.

      There used to be several senior lawyers who lived on the Gold Coast, and flew to work in Sydney (1 hour) or Melbourne(1.5 hours) and return every day. Business class natch. A stewardess friend told us settlement terms for some massive lawsuits were hammered out on these flights.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My boss sent me to do a job in London once.

    Nothing big, just replace some networking gear, a quick in-and-out job. The gear was a bit special, and he didn't want to trust someone else to do it for us.

    The problem?

    I had to fly in, it was only my second time in London, and I didn't really know what to expect.

    Of course there was some construction blocking the traffic flow and of course I missed my return flight.

    This was at a time when you couldn't just pull out your smartphone and search for the cheapest nearby place, so I ended up in a 500£ suite.

    It was much less pleasant than you might think, because my boss picked the earliest return flight possible, and I had to get up at 4:30.

    I learned a few lessons from that...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      The last time I was down in London, it was for a couple of days. I was asked to extend to 3 days. No problem, a small but decent hotel 45mins out of town 5 mins walk from the railway station was my digs, with a direct route to one of London's main stations, 5 mins walk from the job. I called my boss to make sure it was ok by him and he says "yeah, but stay another night, no need to travel after a full days work and it's coming out of someone else's budget anyway!" :-)

  15. disgruntled yank

    Ah, well

    Long ago, I worked for a company that made systems on DG minis. Some of the customers had a low-end storage unit with a 25 MB drive and an 8" floppy for installation, backup etc. For reasons probably including the rubber-belt drive of the main disk, disk corruption occurred now and then. For reasons certainly involving the nuisance of backing up 25 MB of storage on floppies holding 1.1 MB, the backups weren't always what they might have been. I was sent to customer sites on short notice at least twice to help them recover ther systems. I regret to say that the sites were not in European capitals, but to places on Long Island and in northern Alabama.

    I did get an upgrade to first class on the Alabama trip, after Delta got me into Atlanta too late for the initially scheduled flight. But that particular customer was a Baptist publishing operation, and I thought it unwise to sample the free alcohol within two hours of showing up.

  16. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

    Similar experience in Birmingham. I was asked to provide on-call services over a week in Birmingham and they'd put me up in a hotel so I could respond quickly. The same week as a trade show / exhibition in the NEC. As a result all the hotels were booked up with visitors to that, so they put me up in a serviced apartment for the week, top floor with a balcony overlooking the city centre. Certainly not £5000 a night, but probably £2-300. It was quite nice too, 3 floors, loungers in the lounge etc. With it being an apartment and not a hotel there was no food, but the company did pick they tabs I racked up eating down at the local eateries and bars in the city.

    One thing I didn't tell anyone was that I took my girlfriend with me, and when I wasn't working we strolled round the city. I got some strange looks when eating out when I asked that the bills be split into mine and hers (so I could claim back my receipt).

    Actual work done was about an hour a day, but overall it was a nice week in Birmingham (and I can't believe I said that).

    1. perkele

      "One thing I didn't tell anyone was that I took my girlfriend with me, and when I wasn't working we strolled round the city. I got some strange looks when eating out when I asked that the bills be split into mine and hers (so I could claim back my receipt)."

      In Scandinavia/Nordics that wouldn't be even considered odd.

      1. Wally Dug
        Coat

        The Dutch wouldn't consider it odd, either, to split a bill...

      2. Korev Silver badge

        Yep, a friend and I just split a lunch bill over the border in Germany and the waitress didn't bat an eyelid. I don't know why British waiting staff get so annoyed by such a simple request.

        1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

          I don't think it was annoyance, I think it was disgust looking at me like I was some cheapskate date making sure the bill got split.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      I never split the bill when I had my girlfriend with me on expense

      And was never questioned as to why I ordered two entrees etc. I imagine there are more than a few people who do that when dining alone because they figure if they aren't paying it they might as well sample as much as possible. After all, the bill doesn't indicate whether you've cleaned your plate.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I never split the bill when I had my girlfriend with me on expense

        Our company always books the hotel with a meal allowance. I can spend as much as I like, but if I go over the meal allowance, I get billed at reception when checking out. So there's no issue with taking my wife if I so choose since the company only ever sees the booking agency bill for room+allowance, never broken down into individual items.

    3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
      Joke

      Which Birmingham Matters

      overall it was a nice week in Birmingham

      OHHHH! You're talking about the Birmingham in the U.K., and not the Birmingham in the state of Alabama, in the U.S.A.! (Trust me, the one in England is much better!)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Which Birmingham Matters

        "(Trust me, the one in England is much better!)"

        Unless you are on foot and want to cross the road!

        I can see the place on the opposite side of the road (racetrack)... but how the heck doI get to it?

        (mind you, it was 30-odd years ago and it hopefully has got more pedestrian-friendly since)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was once in the situation where (unknown to me), the management was planning a management buyout of the company and they wanted to run down the bank accounts and make it cheaper for themselves.

    Among other things, they decided to send me on a training course which I didn't really need. Instead of sending me to the usual training company in Bracknell a few miles from the office, they flew me out to a training company in Atlanta and put me up in a nice hotel for two weeks and hired a car for me to get about. If I'd known what they were up to I'd have claimed a bit more in expenses.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "If I'd known what they were up to I'd have claimed a bit more in expenses."

      Knowing what they were up to, you probably did, you just didn't know it.

  18. Sparkus

    Flew to South Africa once

    ..........to troubleshoot and fix a recently delivered laser printer.

    Not something you can buy from the corner shop. It was one of those 1980s/1990s beasts that printed at 200 ppm double sided and had 4 input trays, 6 output trays, and an optional roll paper feeder / slicer.

    When I got there, found that the local trucking firm that the customer hired (not the one we recommended) had rolled their truck down the side of a mountain. I collected the hazmat imaging belt (we just called it nasty stuff back then), the hard drives with proprietary software. the 6 eeproms with bootup firmware, and sat in the local conservation camp lodge for a week until my bosses and client 'negotiated' how to recover from the mess.

    Got some great photos from the pair of game drives we took.

  19. aerogems Silver badge
    Holmes

    Interesting Thought

    An alternate history where ninjas were still a thing, but with modern conveyances like airplanes. Paratrooping ninjas.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Interesting Thought

      Maybe that happened once or twice...

      https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/meet-jinichi-kawakami-the-last-surviving-ninja-and-a-retired-museum-director/ar-AA1lElrA

  20. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    D&D

    I used to play Dungeons and Dragons with some work colleagues every Thursday evening. Well, one Monday I checked we were still on for the coming Thursday at Liz's place, and she said yes. I called her again on Wednesday lunchtime to ask if she wanted me to bring any 'sustenance' but got one of her colleagues: "She's gone to Australia."

    It seems that NSW Police had bug in our product, could not replicate it without real data, and that real data was highly sensitive. So at one day's notice she had flown out to Oz for two weeks support. Tragically her body clock had only just got around to Oz time when she had to return. But the client was happy, and that is, after all what we all do/did the job for, isn't it? (BOFHs notwithstanding.)

    1. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

      Re: D&D

      Now we know this story is fake, there's no way girls play D&D :p

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: D&D

        Down voted because you are implicitly asking for down votes. Low five! :-)

    2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: D&D

      Im calling bullshit, police forces around the world are all different because of budgets and believe it or not every single jurisdiction has different laws.

      There is no way to BUY a police system of any scope off the shelf. THe simple answer is of course all police systems unless they are completely basic are custom in house developments, and the NSW Police is the fourth largest police force in the world, there is no way you can BUY a system off the shelf for them.

      1. BOFH in Training

        Re: D&D

        Not all police forces use "police system" software for everything.

        Am familiar with at least 1 police force which used Lotus Notes for taking reports, investigation notes, records, etc- about 25 years ago. Of course they customised it to fit their needs, but still, it does not require a special licence or permission to buy licence Lotus Notes for police work.

        And presumably if there was a problem with the software, they may not just want to reveal what data created the problem to a random support / developer.

        How well it performed is another thing of course. I know they ditched Lotus Notes some time ago.

        1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: D&D

          Thats not what the original poster said.

          If its custom software theres no way a person can fly in and "know" all the business rules and laws for a place like NSW and fix the problem in a few days, simply because they will have no idea .

          For custom systems like a police system, the difficulty isnt the code, its knowing what are the business rules, anyone can read the code, its understanding WHY its doing what it does.

      2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: D&D

        Consultantware (noun) - customizable software with so many options it takes an army of expensive consultants to configure it. See also Oracle, SAP.

      3. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: D&D

        I call BS on your call of BS. And I can do this because NSW Police happens to be one of our customers that uses Vision. And I could tell you how I know but I'd probably have to kill you afterward!

        1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

          Re: D&D

          So what if they do use vision. You are aware that a large org like NSW Police isnt just a single program, life is a bit more complicated than that.

          You obviously have no concept of policing. Police dont just take a persons name and lock them before they decide to charge them with murder. Its far more complicated than that, for example there are literally forms after forms just about the custody process, you know stuff like recording their personal possessions, different governments for example require different sets of q to be asked and they have diff rules about how often to check on the person. THere are also different laws about who they can or must contact after an arrest. There are questions about what they can ask, there are also laws about how or what evidence they can collect and how this is recorded.

          and i havent even started...on the rest.

  21. Ryan D

    Years ago

    I had a grand splurge on the company’s dime some years back. We were in the process of building out an office for one of our core ops groups. This required building out new offices and cubes, new cabling and networking etc. During the week long slog, just as we were coming up to critical time, we got hit by a once in a century snowstorm. The PTBs decided they didn’t want my team to get caught up by traffic and transit snarls so put us up in the highest end hotel in the city.

    The funny thing about all of this was that this was an entertainment company so while they limited our expenses for things like taxis etc, they gave each manager $2500 per diem for entertainment purposes. For every staff member a a manger had with them we could apply an additional $500 per. I had 3 team members with me and we were also joined by two other managers. So between the six of us we had access to a rather sizeable expense account. With the weather impacting access, we had the rooftop bar and restaurant to ourselves. That was fun.

    Sadly events like this tend to be once in a career. If you find yourself walking into one, enjoy it to the limit.

  22. ColinPa

    Would I mind the presidential suite?

    I had to fly in to Dallas and stay over one night to fix a customer problem . I went straight from the airport to the hotel, but it was too early to give me a room, but they allowed me to shower in the sauna, and change my clothes. After a long day at work, I got back to the hotel, and overheard the receptionist telling someone they were completely full.

    When it was my turn, they said - ahhh - would I mind the presidential suite? as this was all they had.

    I had a large bedroom, a lounge ( made out of three rooms) a dining room, a large, proper kitchen.

    I crashed into bed about 10 pm, having been awake about 30 hours.

    My alarms went at 0600 - and I checked out at 0700.

    10 hours was not long enough to enjoy the rooms.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Would I mind the presidential suite?

      My alarms went at 0600 - and I checked out at 0700.

      This is why I've never understood why people would want a fancy hotel room when on vacation. If I'm on vacation I want to be doing stuff out of the room, in the room I just need a shower and bed.

      It is when you're on a work trip that you might want something nicer, especially if instead of a "significant European city" it was some place in the middle of nowhere. The places where you'd most want it are the least likely to offer even a suite, let alone something really fancy.

      Nicest room I ever stayed in listed for $25,000 a night (back then, it is probably at least twice that now) I was with a friend who is a "high roller" in Vegas, but even though he bet far more than I ever would or even could, he was a small fish in the world of the really big whales. There were four of us in separate bedrooms, with two unused bedrooms, in a suite that was at least 10,000 sq ft with huge windows overlooking the strip. There were all sorts of amenities like en suite sauna, private concierge, etc. but we were out and about the whole four days and didn't spend more than maybe a couple hours in the room when we weren't sleeping, showering, etc. Of course it was free so we weren't complaining, but it wouldn't have made any difference to any of us if they'd given us four adjoining standard rooms.

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
    Unhappy

    On the other hand...

    Summons to give evidence to a court martial on Tuesday, be there on Monday. All the way from Belfast to Inverness flying out on some small, cramped plane with a couple of SIB sergeants, the MP's equivalent of CID.

    There was nothing for me to do in Inverness when I got there. Still the SIB took me out drinking at their expense (note to self - never drink with Army sergeants again). I woke up sitting up in bed next morning not even having managed to lay down before going to sleep - or passing out as it might be unkindly called.

    Car collecting me to go to court, gave evidence, had lunch in the mess sitting next to the judge (that never happened in Crumbing Road), catch flight back on small plane calling at Skye, fretting about apparent tightly timed (it wasn't) change at Glasgow.

    It turned out the only reason they wanted me there the day before wasn't to discuss the case or anything, they just wanted to be hospitable. The hospitality cost me a day at work out of my last week in the job which I sorely needed as I was scrambling to write up all my pending case reports. Worse still, the regiment was being posted so if the case had been delayed it would have been a free trip to Kenya instead and probably a witness fee.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: On the other hand... - drinking

      One of my friends (now sadly deceased) joined the RN. Well, as a cadet on a training 'ship'* he needed permission from his CO when a couple of his mates who were training to be RC priests invited him for a weekend out. He duly went.

      On his return he demanded that his CO never again give him permission to go out with seminarians as they drank him under the table on every available opportunity (breakfast, lunch dinner ...).

      *In the RN, every organisation is a 'ship. HMNS Seahawk is a land base split in two by a dual carriageway, for example.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On the other hand... - drinking

        Many years ago I was working on PDP-11s (many years, right) and was sent to do a week's consultancy for an RN shore base. On the first day as midday approached the officer in charge sought me out and asked me a few questions, like my academic qualifications, experience, financial and man management responsibilities. "Don't worry" he said, "this is just to work out what equivalent rank we can give you, and I think we can call you a captain, so you can come to lunch with us". And very nice the senior officers mess was too.

      2. spuck

        Re: On the other hand... - drinking

        Her Majesty's Not a Ship?

  24. Paul Cooper

    Not a hotel, but...

    I once organised and ran an IT course for an International audience in the Palacio San Martin in Buenos Aires. I didn't choose the venue - it was my colleagues - but it must have been the grandest possible venue for a nuts and bolts course on Web Mapping and GIS!

    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Mart%C3%ADn_Palace

  25. trevorde Silver badge

    Sod Monaco!

    Worked for a software company where one of the devs got sent to Monaco for a 'Site Acceptance Test'. Sounds exotic but the reality was he was stuck in a small, windowless, airless office; in summer; trying to hack the code to get it to work; whilst someone with a jackhammer destroyed a wall about 6 feet from him. The only parts of Monaco he saw was from the taxi, going to & from the airport. The kicker was that during this time, the boss was having a 5 star reception downstairs to celebrate the success of the project!

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Sod Monaco!

      The only parts of Monaco he saw was from the taxi, going to & from the airport

      He probably saw most of it, then.

    2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: Sod Monaco!

      Theres no airport anywhere near monaco.

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        Re: Sod Monaco!

        Nice is about 20 miles away.

  26. TekGuruNull

    Good for him

    As we say on our (west) side of the pond, good work if you can get it.

  27. Nifty

    I was working in Bavaria and we were to meet senior guys from a large British manufacturing company to demo them a system. They arrived late on a Saturday towards the end of September so we planned to show then around the system on Sunday for an hour or two then take them on a tour around the little provincial German town where we were based.

    Then discovered that Bavaria had strict Catholic working hours rules and before anyone could enter the company building on a Sunday, a regional minister had to sign it off.

    It turned out that the Sunday was the opening day of Oktoberfest. Regrettably we had to take the 2 hour train Journey to Munich and spend the day there with our customers.

  28. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I one had a few days working at Sellafield. The last day finished early enough that I was able to drive to Hardnott Pass and have a few hours rambling in the mountains.

  29. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Not while working

    I've never been on the working end of a nice work related junket. I got sent to a youth hostel on the island of Texel (bonus points if you know of it) But, I once was on the receiving end of a nice upgrade in Las Vegas about 20 years ago... we got the "I'm sorry sir, we don't have any rooms fitting your reservation"(double queen I think). Perhaps this 8 bedroom suite will be suitable. The master bathroom alone was bigger than one floor of my house at the time! There were only 3 of us...

  30. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Pint

    Did that, done that

    Bahamas, 1996. Computers were shipped with the wrong amount of RAM. No problem, sent more overnight. Oh, and back then international "overnight" really meant two days.

    Ah, but they screwed up again! Invoiced the RAM on the re-ship. Yup, they wanted a huge duty fee on the import - even though duty had already been paid on the correctly invoiced but under-provisioned systems. Send them back and re-ship!

    So four extra days to get some RAM. In the Bahamas. On Paradise Island. It was long before Atlantis was built, so the vibe was different.

    On my way to the airport I ran in to the UPS driver. He asked if I still wanted the first batch of RAM because he had NOT returned it. Figuring it would be conveniently 'lost', I hand-carried it back to the office....no duty fee charged.

  31. PRR Silver badge

    > we got the "I'm sorry sir, we don't have any rooms fitting your reservation

    Different Vegas reservation: we book the cheapest rental car listed. At the time probably a 3-cyl Geo Metro 'or other fine car'. They apologized they didn't have anything less than an AMC Eagle Limited. Basically a Rambler. But what a Rambler! Today we would say "Deluxe SUV". Big soft seats. Lush cloth upholstery. Leather-wrap wheel. Power everything (A/C of course). Set high, easy in/out. A 4.2L Six that shamed many V-8s, lush automatic gears, real full-time 4WD (derived from the astonishingly luxurious top-level Grand Wagoneer). Much nicer than my grandfather's last Cadillac. No fret about cruising 50MPH on unpaved desert roads.

  32. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Reading the comments

    You're all extremely lucky buggers

    <<never went further than a shite hotel in Roysthe

  33. tweell
    Go

    Only time I've flown first class

    Setting up a secure videoconference and the other side's router wasn't cooperating. The IT guy there was barely able to handle Windows, and refused to touch the router. The Powers That Be decreed that it had to be up and running by the next day, so off I was sent by the first available flight. There was one first class seat open, so that's what I was given.

    The other folks had a man and car waiting for me, and off we went to the site. It took all of 5 minutes to fix the issue and another 15 to prove that it was fixed. I stayed the night in the boss's place, which suited me fine. His wife was from New Orleans and her gumbo was to die for. Left the next day, economy this time. Once the emergency passed, the bosses didn't care any more and the bean counters wanted revenge.

  34. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Sadly not enough extravagance here

    I used to travel to Cork quite a lot and to be fair the company I did business for treated me extremely well, and were lovely people. Long days though - 10 hours+ was the norm.

    This was prior to Easyjet, so BA was the only option. The one occasion I traveled Club Class because it was an entire tenner extra, providing a much nicer meal than the standard fare.

    We did once get the option of doing training in somewhere a bit isolated in east Asia, but the travel was horrendous - over a day to get there, a training course of a day, and then another day or more back. No one volunteered, and it got canned.

    Nowadays I'm a large fan of remote working and all the remote support systems in use. So much of business travel is overrated, the only real benefit is a few lovely meals.

    Mind you, technically I can do my job anywhere inside Europe/UK, there's always the possibility of staying somewhere else for a few weeks.

  35. omikl

    After a long and varied career…

    The highlights were two trips to Hong Kong in the late ‘80’s:

    The first was because a niggling bug was causing tpart of the acceptance test for a new system to fail and I was hauled out there for a week to try to fix it.

    This was eventually achieved after about three days’ working through piles of diagnostic trace while on the phone to a colleague from the dev. Code was patched and the test run to completion.

    However, the local office was now sufficiently spooked that they refused to allow me to return to the U.K. until the customer signed off acceptance upon completion of the remaining tests, which would be in about two to three weeks.

    Now, back before the days of email and ubiquitous connectivity there was no way for me to do any other work during that time. So I was given a pager, a list of phone numbers, and let loose in Hong Kong.

    The second trip was for the same customer about a year later. The system was in production but suddenly started to exhibit a fault that matched an old problem with a run time library that had been fixed years before. Local support was insistent that all the fixes were in place and that it must be a new problem, and that they needed me there by Monday to fix it. So I flew all the way to Hong Kong at very short notice, only to be greeted on arrival with the news that they’d worked out why they were pickup up code that didn’t have the fix I had identified at about the same time my flight had taken off from Heathrow and did I want to go to the Pub?

    Cue another week loafing around Hong Kong wearing a pager.

    Another trip of note was when I had to fix a corrupted database in Paris during fashion week.

    Not a hotel room to be found, I ended up spending half the week in a run down hovel in St Germain where an alarm clock was rendered superfluous by the plumbing, and the rest of the stay in a somwhat suspect establishment closer to the city centre where the severely black-furnishe room had a mirrored ceiling, and the staff seemed quite perturbed by someone checking in solo…

  36. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    At least this guy provided a real service unlike leadership who pay themselves considerably more than thousands a day for contributing absolutely nothing but bullshit.

  37. C-Clef

    Not all it's cracked up to be ...

    Many, many moons ago, whilst many of you I suspect were still in short trousers, I was asked by the training division of ICL whether I could write a course for a satellite comms company we'll call MarInSat.

    The principle content was about using ISDN line emulation via geostationery satellite, but also how to set up various types of terminals, align and connect them to IT hardware and send data in various ways. Also how to use a forerunner of video conferencing. It comprised six hours a day of lecturing.

    The first of the four day courses was at their London HQ, which they seemed to like so, during the course of the next eighteen months, I was asked to visit the following places:

    Bonn, Oslo, the Hague, Rome, Dubai, Singapore, Dakar, Washington, Tokyo, Moscow, Brisbane, Cairo, Johannesburg, Sydney, Washington again and Dubai again,

    In between I was required to deliver courses in their London HQ. I was self-employed and the recompense wasn't bad so I eagerly took the business.

    The travel outside Europe was all business class and occasionaly upgraded to first, when the book in clerk took pity on my perceived exhaustion.

    Often wonderful hotels, the one in Singapore overlooking the harbour from many stories above especially so.

    But it's possible to get absolutely sick to death of international travel and I did.

    Living out of a suitcase ain't all it's cracked up to be.

    I was just 55 when I started, by the end I felt like 95.

    Burnout ensued and it was the last job in IT I ever did. (I spent the next nine years teaching English to businessmen in Germany!)

    But ... I did meet a wonderful woman in Germany who is now my wife, so it was all worthwhile!

  38. xyz123 Silver badge

    I can't tell you which company, but they paid for a friend of mine to stay in a £1000/night hotel for a week for similar "emergency" stuff. However they also offered to pay for "companionship" for him.

    Which was turned down as he was married. We had a right laugh trying to imagine how you'd put THAT on what the company INSISTED was a per-action itemized expenses form.

    (think..ordered food, ordered drink....ordered snacks...and you'd have to list EVERYTHING that happened with/to those items)

    1. My-Handle

      I would assume that the typical euphemism would be "personal assistance" :)

  39. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Mixed Benefits

    I once was sent to a tiny isolated, rural hamlet in a snowy December to fix their fix their medical clinic's newly-added computer terminals* (they would work for a bit, then the displays would be corrupted). No hotel (the place was too small). I was put up in the large den of the owner of the clinic, in a sleeping bag on the floor. The house was huge (as were many of the houses there), with floor-to-ceiling windows, built on a hilltop.

    Early one evening I looked out and saw a bull elk standing on the neighbor's patio, looking into that house through their sliding glass door as the family watched TV.

    *The problem was that while the terminals were configured for hardware flow control, SCO Xenix was not. Editing /etc/gettydefs and killing the getty processes (which then respawned) of the affected terminals fixed it.

  40. ecofeco Silver badge

    Some people have all the luck

    Best I was ever able to get was very nice, large hotel room by the pool and an unlimited expense to eat and drink for about 4 days while on temp assignment.

    Unfortunately I had a screamingly painful toothache the whole time and no money for a dentist. (U.S. at the time. Dental was, and still is, stupid expensive) I was not able to partake of ANY eating or drinking except the bare minimum to sustain life.

    Story of my life.

  41. damiandixon

    Scotland and back in a day...

    I had to go to Edinburgh to fix a software issue.

    I flew up from Gatwick on the first morning flight via BA in business class. Made full use of the fast lane and BA lounge facilities.

    I had a seat booked on every easyJet flight back that day.

    Took an hour to fix the issue so I did some sightseeing and a leisurely lunch before catching a flight home later that afternoon.

    Which makes up for krap trip to Sweden where my flight was late leaving Gatwick so I missed my connection in Copenhagen and spent 12 hours waiting for the next flight.

    After that one I refused any arrangements with connecting flights unless they were truly long distance... and had a decent amount of slack in the timings.

  42. Stu J

    I once had to fly out to Los Angeles from the UK to apply for an airside pass for a project we were working on at an airport in the LA area.

    I had to turn up in person to register on a Tuesday morning (they only ran the sessions once a week at the time), have my fingerprints taken, do a quick classroom course, then bugger off back to blighty for 3-4 weeks while the FBI decided I wasn't a threat, before we could start the project delivery. All in, less than an hour's "work".

    I figured out it was about a grand cheaper for the company to send me out Premium Economy on the Saturday flight, and back on the Tuesday night, and pay for an extra two nights hotel and expenses, and a hire car for the duration - than it would have been to fly me out Economy on the Monday and back on the Tuesday. So I got a weekend sightseeing in SoCal on the client's dime.

  43. ericsmith504

    Please try to keep the flame level low if responding; looking for related job search advice

    Anyone have any suggestions for recruiters or a good place to get a foot in the door for travel IT/support gigs? The stuff I find through indeed, etc tends to just be remote support these days, not travel.

    I've got about 20 years of tech support/site install/planning experience off and on, but have been out of the full-time tech for about 10 years (I work government policy now, but still do some small time tech consulting on the side). I always enjoyed doing the weird turnaround jobs I would occasionally get (fly into a city and completely flip a firm's infrastructure over a holiday weekend, etc). I'm looking to go back to doing IT full-time and travel is the primary thing I'm looking for in the job descriptions. Any suggestions from y'all out there would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for any input.

    1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: Please try to keep the flame level low if responding; looking for related job search advice

      I think you can thank Covid for that, it kinda proved that remote support is possible and practicable

      For hardware related stuff that tends to be outsourced and mostly local resources.

      The world has changed.

  44. Blacklight
    Pint

    Jaunts and escapades

    I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at a supplier's gig, overseas, at their expense. Said gig was in Vegas however, which didn't appeal.

    Got to Vegas, got to room in 'well known hotel' - and found a food cart in the room. "Oooh" I thought, suspecting they'd put out some buffet thing for my arrival (they hadn't asked if I was vegetarian etc)....except when I lifted the lid on one container - it was half eaten food. Room was also a mess.

    One call to reception and I was upgraded to a suite. Result. Only for two nights mind.

    Simarly a later company wanted me to back to the US for other activities - and they had a corporate policy about class of flight being dependent on length. Anything over 6 hours was business class. My flight? 6 hrs, 15 mins. Oh noes....

  45. tiggity Silver badge

    travel cost cutting - bad side effects

    I was working for company that was UK reseller, installer, configurer etc. of US companies software, we would use the US software as the "base" on which to build bespoke systems.

    Lets call US company A and company in UK X.

    We had a new customer (Y) and they wanted system implementing using a new product line from A (that I was still awaiting training for)

    When training was arranged (in the states) one of the other attendees was from our new customer Y (he was the person who was our main developer contact at the customer)

    X arranged me a painful travel scenario where I got flight from local (ish - about 1.5 hour drive) airport to Dublin, then many hours wait for connecting flight to USA. Eventually arrived at hotel in evening (USA) time, when training was to start the next day, very tired and jet lagged.

    The other attendees, including contact from Y, had been provide, by their employee, with more sensible travel from UK, contact from Y had arrived a day earlier so as to have overcome any jet lag issues.

    So, as we chatted away contact from Y found out all about me painful journey (just to save a tiny bit on air fares vs direct from mainland UK flight & save a day hotel cost - it was a salaried post with occasional travel required & although could claim some travel expenses I did not get paid for time spent travelling - else they may well have done it differently!) - and next morning saw I was still really knackered from the travel & jetlag combo (as it was an intensive training session from A, aimed at developers, lots to learn, so not ideal to be there tired)

    Customer Y already had shaky relationship with the management running X (they were sales oriented & loved promising unrealistic timelines & claiming everything was easily possible) - Y were gradually realising the X management were often BS merchants.

    When my contact at Y (we personally got on really well) told his Y bosses about the cheapskate & counterproductive travel approach of X, then the low opinion Y had of my bosses, dropped even lower due to X poor treatment of employees. So cheapskate approach to travel & costs was bad for (already rather shaky) customer relations.

    Although the project worked out OK (myself and contact at Y working together effectively), it was obvious that Y would never employ X for any other projects due to the X management behaviour (to which their no consideration for staff welfare travel approach was quite a big contributor according to my contact at Y).

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