Season 23: Episode 3: King Airport Style

As you probably already know, I ran the Amazing Race on Season 21.  Most seasons blend together. The routes, while interesting, usually never really stand out (although Season 22 was my favorite of all seasons). Same can be said for the contestants (my favorite cast here ).  Except in my case. All someone needs to hear is that “we were the only team in Amazing Race history to have had a chance at winning 2 million dollars.”  And then they remember this sequence exactly:

Frog Fallopian tubes, passing a girl with two prosthetic legs to the finish mat, chance at 2 million, 4 missed flights / Frankfurt Airport, U-turn in Frankfurt , Chippendales/Twinnies/Texas alliance. No more 2 million dollars.  

And so that about sums up my Amazing Race experience.  Well, actually there’s a lot more to the story (as to all of those points) but the bottom line is this: even though I didn’t win 2 million bucks, I can thank the Amazing Race for all of the wonderful opportunities that have come my way in the 1-year since – book deal, travel magazine writing gig, Jauntaroo.com #ChiefWorldExplorer opportunity literally titled “The Best Job in the World) (application still pending, but I’ve made it from 3000+ applicants to top 50 thus far – you can see my application videos here) and the accompanying social media platform that goes along with being on a primetime television show for nearly 3 months.  So yes, I’d trade all of that for 2 million dollars, duh, but that’s neither here nor there.  What is here is my short and sweet commentary, 10 thoughts and musings, on each episode of this season of Amazing Race. Without further ado, Episode 3. 

Episode 1 Recap Here

Episode 2 Recap Here

 

Let’s do things a little bit different with this recap.  Let’s use notable quotes from the show to explain the happenings (I am saying this as I’m watching the first statement get made — covered further below).  Again, I am reviewing this episode while it’s playing. In other words, I haven’t watched the episode, I do not know the outcome (although thanks to twitter not having a widget on preventing an east coaster twitter feed from spoiling those of us on the west coast, I have a good idea based on all of the #chester retweets) so my thoughts are captured in real time.  Maybe this will backfire and I’ll blast someone’s strategy and they’ll end up winning or doing well, and that’s fine, that can happen.  But I want to give you my real time perspective as though I was in the same situation.  For which the chances are, I most likely was last year.

A couple of reminders: Teams are traveling from Chile. Chester & Ephraim won the last leg of the race (leg 2). Leaving in 1st place. That’s nice.

You know how in Amazing Race you often hear teams saying something that is finished in editing with the sound of symbols playing or a clap of thunder that is out and out prescient?  Guess what the first words spoken on this episode were?

Chester & Ephraim saying while in the cab,  “Usually when we travel we have people that book everything and we just show up.” CLASP!! SYMBOL!. All that’s missing here is a shot of Phil and his eyebrow or an “oy vay.”

Let’s just put this out there now. This episode is all about the airport and booking the flight to Lisbon.  At this point, 18 minutes into a 42 minute show and all we’ve seen is airport debauchery, I feel comfortable saying this.

Jamal/Leo: “We decided to go straight to the airport instead of to the agency.”

Here’s what’s interesting about this quote and the decision.  Recall from my last post when I discussed the ‘late night travel agency’ issue.  Teams are given access, as arranged by Race production to a travel agency.  It’s there that we book our flights to the next destination.  Usually the only stipulations are a) carriers we cannot fly and b) connecting cities / countries we cannot enter.  So with those preventions, there’s usually only a few flights that are common to all teams, regardless of what time they arrive at the agency.  These agencies have access to all flights so what’s interesting is when teams decide to either bypass this and go straight to the airport.  The reasoning being that airports sometimes themselves don’t open until a certain time.  So you’re risking getting there and having to wait for the entire airport to open.  This happened (but you didn’t see it) on our season when we were leaving Indonesia (en route to Bangladesh) and had to sleep outside of the Jakarta airport for a few hours waiting for it to open.  We had already booked our flights (production provided a travel agency for the teams).  In this episode the afghanimonkeys (did I get that right? is that their self-awarded nickname?) go right to the airport, bypassing the travel agency and instead opting for an agent in the airport.  Good move or not? Well, in my experience, not, because as I indicated above, depending if you’re in a major world city or not, the airport very well might not even open for a few hours.  And, even if the airport is open, the travel agents/agencies within the airport might not be open. (This too happened to Abbie and I when we were in Moscow).  So it’s an interesting move – but if the airport experience is different in Chile than in Indonesia, who am I to judge.  Just seems risky. And this whole post and this whole episode is about risk/reward.

You know what I love about these guys (afghans)- while discussing booking their trip to Portugal through London, they started throwing out Australian accents.  I’m pretty sure “mate” with the Crocodile Dundee accent is representative of Australia, not London. Way to represent the “USC” on your shirt.

Scene: Chester & Ephraim (“C&E”) booking travel.

Ruh roh.  The travel agent put in the wrong dates.  Ooopsie doopsie.  How can that happen? Well, language barrier is an obvious guess. However, her English appeared to be proficient, and as a travel agent, my guess is she deals with English speaking clients most days.  So, clearly there was a miscommunication between C&E and travel agent.  What could’ve been done different? Short of them getting on her computer, looking at her monitor or asking her to reconfirm each detail of the booking, not much.  Such is life on the Amazing Race. You are at the mercy of your connection (person).  Whether that is a cab driver, a travel agent, or the person on the street giving you directions, you are entrusting them as traditionally speaking, they arguably should know more than you.  Evaluating them and the subsequent decision in trusting them (or not) and your instincts are crucial to the Race. So at this point, we can fault the travel agent for C&E ‘s booking snafu.  HOWEVER, this can be remedied. Right? Right.  How? They are still only 1 of 4 teams (at this point) that have access to booking flights.  So even if they blew the 7am arrival flight, there should be other flights arriving around the same time.  Recall again my post from episode 2:

1) Middle of the night starts: When you start the leg in the middle of the night, that can only mean two things: 1) you’re going to a travel agency that’s agreed to open just for you (and the other racers) and you’re going to book a flight (or maybe 2) that are limited by production as to (connecting cities, airlines that can be flown, etc).  Further,  those flight(s) will all be scheduled to be departing same day, most likely same time.  In other words, you’re bottlenecking up. Quit freaking out if you see other teams arrive and book stuff. You’re meant to bottleneck. Any  and all leads will be effectively wiped out.”

In other words, the Race is set up to make for good tv.  Production isn’t going to let teams get 3, 5, 10+ hour distances between themselves (maybe one team here and there but not all teams). That’s not entertaining TV.  So C&E have to know there’s another flight option right behind the 7am flight.  Let’s see if they know this…..Yes! They book a flight with Brandon & Adam so they arrive at 12pm (5 hrs after Travis & Nicole).  Ok, not the end of the world because A) they’re with another team B) they are seemingly on the ‘next’ flight and C) the remaining teams should, arguably, all be bottlenecked together.

Ephraim: “And then all of a sudden she just throws out Ephraim you have a call.”  

First of all, Whaaaat?  Who gets a call? Second of all, Whaaaat? Ok, now I get it.  The travel agent that accidentally booked the C&E flight for the wrong day tracked them down at their inter-airport office and followed up with another flight that would get them in at their originally desired time of 7am.  Only caveat, 2 connections. Before I can even put down on paper my thoughts on taking not 1 but 2 connecting flights, C takes the words right out of my mouth:

Chester: “You would never have two connecting flights. You would never risk that. But for a 5hr jump .. . this is a risk you take.”

What? Uh, NO you don’t! You just said it yourself Chester! You don’t take that risk.  Why? Why put your Race at risk? For what? To possibly win a leg? Risk reward is always a factor.  Always. The reward here (if everything went according to plan): 1st or 2nd place on the leg (recall Travis & Nicole would be arriving at the same time). Risk: obviously last place and elimination (missed flight connections, delays, mechanical failures, etc. — or as I like to say “all of those things that happened to me in Istanbul and Frankfurt.)   So now, I can’t even feel bad.  The foreshadowing here is over the top, right?  First of all, the first quote of the episode was about not having booked travel on their own and now this gem about taking two connecting flights.  Sorry boys, I think you’re great, I enjoy watching you but this is a bad Race decision.  Even if it works out.  This reminds me of when Abbie and I arrived at the bus task in Dhaka.

TAR2104-1180

We thought we arrived to the task in 4th or 5th place because of a cab snafu.  When we got there, we opened the clue and there was a Fast Forward envelope.  We decided on the spot NOT to take the fast forward because of risk/reward.  Turns out we were actually the first team to arrive to that bus roadblock. In hindsight we couldve done the FF and could’ve won both that leg and the next one.  Didn’t matter, wasn’t worth the risk.  Again, the risk: if another team is already there, we most likely would finish after them (thus having to do the bus task in last place). Reward: winning the leg.   We decided it made no sense to risk our race just for winning a leg, even if that would give us a lead on the next leg. (recall our season the Rockers did this fast forward, picking up dead rats, and then because we stayed in Bangladesh for the next leg also won that leg as they had a 3+ hr head start).  Abbie and I came in 2nd both days.

Leo/Jamal: “So we decided to get Oklahoma on the same flight as us.”

Smart.  Very smart.  Good move. Bringing another team along to keep the chances of your own survival is just good Racing.  I may not like these guys, but I do like their strategy.

Marie to Oklahoma: “You lying to me? I have the express pass.”

Ugh. that was sorta distasteful and awkward to hear, eh? Again, having not experienced a double express pass scenario (either as holders or potential recipient) I cannot really opine as to how that changes the game and the behavior but I’m pretty sure the above comment doesn’t work well on most people.

Maria (while trying to book connections into Portugal and #baseballwives are off doing something else): “The bunnies are up to something.”

Such a good move girls! So far we’ve seen 1 really bad Race decision (C&E choosing the flight/route that has 2 connecting flights) and 2 really good Race decisions (Leo/Jamal getting Oklahoma to stick with them on their flight and now the Baseball wives going to an executive lounge to get standby priority). Let me share with you why this (going to executive lounge works)– these lounges are only reserved/accessible for two types of people: 1) those flying first/business class (which you should know is NEVER allowed on the Race). The only exception is unless you can book that ticket for the same price as economy fare and even then, you must allow your camera/audio crew to take those seats before you do. So essentially you need 4 seats, at economy pricing — which means pretty much that’s  never happening or 2) black card (AMEX) carrying members.  I’m guessing since these girls’ husbands play Major League Baseball, they’re slanging black cards around. However! (another behind-the-scenes tip) — we (as Racers) are not allowed to bring any of our own instruments. That includes cell phones, wallets/credit cards, pre-arranged items (maps, books, etc) etc.  So these girls definitely didn’t flash the black card in the lounge – but that’s okay – all they had to do was tell the representative at the counter a last name, (or perhaps they memorized their card or membership #) and boom! access.  Isn’t being rich a beautiful thing? (By the way, if you carry the black card, you have to spend $250,000 a year on the card.  Also, you get a gift each year from American Express.  A buddy of mine got a digital camera once. Hardly seems worth the 250k.) But you know what is worth it? Priority on a stand by flight when you’re on the Amazing Race. Good job girls – flaunt it if you got it.  And you two definitely gots it.

Scene: At ticket counter with Tim/Marie, Jason/Amy, Nicky/Kim.

HAHAHAHA. I love the baseball wives trying to explain (at the ticket counter) without telling Jason/Amy/Tim/Marie to their face that they basically just got punked.  They are sweet girls and you can see that they’re just on the Race to do well and not hurt feelings.  Will they win? Nope. Will they be fan favorites? Yep.  Are they attractive? Absolutely.  Does that matter? Nope.  Am I asking and answering my own questions? Yes. Why? I dont know.

Update: Ok so C&E got delayed in Buenos Aires. Not surprising.

Update 2: And now C&E’s second (or is it their third flight) just got delayed. I can’t write about this anymore.  It’s so painful at this point. Risk/reward. RISK/REWARD!!!

Update 3: Oh my god. C&E missed another flight (is this flight #4?).  So essentially they’ve accomplished in one leg what took Abbie and I two legs and 2 countries to accomplish.  Impressive boys.  More impressive, they just referenced my 2 most favorite Racers ever “Beekman boys 2.0″. But not quite.  “Beekman Boys” refers to the underdogs of the Race coming on like crazed dogs to win the whole thing.  C&E might’ve been better off referencing a team that got absolutely demolished by bad traveling experiences to only come back and win the leg.  Or in this case, not get eliminated.   Any teams like that come to mind (horrible flight luck, yet staved off elimination)? Feel free to comment below if you can name a team that can destroyed by bad flight luck only to not get eliminated that leg.  I’ll give you a hint here:

ar-21-07-02

 

At 22:48 into this 42 minute episode we finally see Portugal.  That has to be a record on amount of time between footage between the departing and the destination country over two legs.  I’m exhausted and I haven’t gotten off my couch.

Detour: Tiles or Miles. Put a puzzle together or use a navigation instrument to measure distance. I can tell you right now what I would’ve picked. Tiles. Why? Because trial and error (putting a puzzle together) is easier than math. For me. And Abbie. Not that you didn’t know that if you saw me in a Russian classroom getting destroyed by the map time zone test.

Fun fact: Did you know a nautical mile is to a regular mile of 1 to 1.15? Me neither.  You’re welcome. You’ll never need to know that.

At 28:51 C&E are still not in Portugal. But they managed, while in the Heathrow, London airport to pull a Jamal/Leo:  using an Australian accent and saying something native to Australia. But they are in London. This doesn’t bode well for the outcome.

Roadblock: Sling shot / bow/arrow thingy.

Jason killed it on try #1.  Travis looks awesome and is not getting it.  Cool roadblock, I suppose. I’d like to shoot an arrow at a couple of teams on this Race.

Meanwhile #BaseballWives who are doubling as Lululemon models are now kissing on the lips, (I just love these girls), have just completed the tile detour.

Also, racing for first place is never as interesting as the race for last place.  No matter how interesting the show makes it (as in this case, Jason/Amy and Travis/Nicole) it’s just not that interesting.  But alas, J&A get a little lost on the way to the pit stop and T&N take 1st.  So they should’ve won Leg 1 and now they’ve won Leg 3.  Just like me and Abbie. Which means they are not winning this Race.  I think I heard once upon a time that no team that’s ever won the 3rd leg has ever won the Race. Can someone double check that and leave a comment if that’s true or not? If it is, let’s write Travis & Nicole off from winning this Race.  Sad. I like them.

Leo (with a s–t eating grin goofy smile): “My race wife is Portuguese.”

Is the “race-wife” thing getting beyond creepy and festering in ‘I’m concerned for her well-being’ territory to anyone else? Leo keeps saying this and every time you just get the sense the hockey blonde he’s referring to is like “dude, you can keep saying that as long as it’s keeping you from ditching us and costing us our Race but there’s 0 chance you will ever get to know me in the wife sense of the word.” Or less than 0 if she sees the way he rocks the yellow bandana. 

amazing-race-01Unless you’re Deion Sanders you can’t pull that off.  

deion sanders

Ephriam: “We are in London. Our flight is supposed to leave now. And it’s delayed.”

Another DELAY!!! another flight delay. How many is that? 4? 5? 6? If I hadn’t gone through this myself I’d be calling BS on the edit.  This is just sad.

But not as sad as this.

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Scene: Leo and Jamal attempting “miles”.  And failing. Miserably.

Do you think USC admin is watching this and shaking their heads? Yes. They are. As am I and as are you.  Switching a detour is a costly-proposition.  We never did it. So I’m not sure what that feels like. I can imagine on one hand you’re relieved to get away from a situation that you feel has no positive outcome.  On the flip side, you have to be concerned that the time you’ve wasted and now the time it takes to get to the next location as well as briefed on what is needed to be done is also frustrating.  But in this case, let me tell you exactly what the afghanis are thinking in the back of their minds. “Well at least we are stringing along our sheep (hockey blondes).”  Because regardless of what they’re saying to their face about wanting to Race with them and all of that, I can assure you they will slit their throats if this leg comes down to themselves and their racevictims racewives.

Scene: Teams start to finish.  #baseballwives team #3 all because of their black card status.  Well done ladies.  Oklahoma team #4. Silent assassins are they? No. Competitive? Yes.  Winners? Doubtful.

Brandon/Adam #5.  Very little air time this week. Hmmmmmm.

 

Tim: “Alright just listen, let’s just it (express pass).”  Marie (curious audio edit): “Crap, we’re in trouble.”

They are struggling for sure. I get that Marie recognizes they are in the back of the pack. But there’s an audio edit here (Marie’s quote). I can tell you because on the first leg of my Race in Shanghai when we are passing Daniel/Amy on way to pit stop #1, Abbie’s audio has her yelling at me to hurry up. “C’mon! Hurry up! Let’s go! This is for 2million dollars“. But you know what? That audio was actually from the rope/bridge rappel off the Colorado Street bridge in LA earlier that leg.  You know how I know? I was there.  You also know how I know? Abbie was ahead of me on the dual bridge rapel, yelling at me to hurry up. And also, because in the foot race, I was ahead of her.  It didn’t make sense for her to be running behind me and then saying those words.  So these are the subtle edits that unless you were on the show and were there, wouldn’t know. I can guarantee from this edit, 1) Marie didn’t say those words at this point and 2) most likely (but I’m not positive) she really said this when their time on the Race is/was/will be coming to an end. Which means they don’t win.  I literally have 0 inside information but I’d be willing to bet both of those points.  I could go on about the express pass and when you use it and when you don’t. But I just want to see where in the world our friends C&E are.

Scene: Afghanis and Hockeyblondes are en route and arrive at bow & arrow. I’m not commenting anymore on their weird and totally obvious awkward love arrangement.  So we’ll just discuss how Ally’s grandpa secreted to her mentally through the universe how to shoot a bow and arrow. Right. But those are the things that get aired.

Scene: Tim nails the first shot. No express pass played. Smart. I think.

Scene: More pit stop finishes: Afghanis #6, Hockeygirls #7, Tim/Marie #8.  They still have the express pass and they still have to give the other one away. Who is getting it? At this point?  Comment below on who you think ends up with it.

Scene: C&E are actually eliminated in the Lisboa airport. By Phil.

Awkward. That sucks. Has Phil ever gone off location to eliminate a team? I recall teams getting pulled off the course and brought to the pit stop (Bill & Cathy?) but I’m not sure I recall Phil leaving to eliminate a team at an airport. They didn’t even get to complete the leg.  Looks like they’ve been traveling for about 232 hours.  They have great attitudes. Way better than the ones we exhibited on the mats.  These are good dudes. I hope they’ll be back.  And with a quote from the immortal Ricky Bobby, if you’re not first you’re last.  Except on the Amazing Race.  Risk/Reward. Always do you risk/reward analysis.

 

Next week teams are — I just turned it off. Deleted it. I’m exhausted from this episode.  Hopefully we get more Amazing Racing as opposed to unamazing traveling.

 

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One thought on “Season 23: Episode 3: King Airport Style

  1. To answer your question, Ryan – no, not a single team that arrived first at the end of 3rd leg ever managed to win the Amazing Race. But! Several of 3rd leg winners placed 2nd overall(season 9 – Eric and Jeremy, season 13 – Ken and Tina, season 16 – Jet and Cord, season 20 – Art and JJ). So – there is some hope for the doctors! Although – given their misread clues and Nicole’s frequent nervous break-downs – I wouldn’t hold my breath.
    Please allow me to disagree about the Centurion Card. Despite being limitless and even made of titanium (at least those issued in the US), this card does not automatically grant access to EVERY airport lounge in the world. Now, I do not know about that particular lounge in Santiago. But to me – it’s a big stretch to assume that the “baseball wives” not only Centurion card holders but also memorized the number just in case. It’s possible but not as likely as just simply walking into the lounge (they were shown at the front desk of the lounge, not in the lounge itself) and asking the agent nicely to put them on standby. It just seems more plausible. I saw these agents going to quite some length to help to a person in need (let alone someone surrounded by cameramen).
    Either way – I agree – it was a smart move. What I do disagree with you about is that you think they might be “fans favourite”. I love talking with other TAR fans, and the majority finds them utterly boring. Yes, they try – jump and shriek and huddle. But being way (way!) beyond junior high – it all comes across as awkward and fake. And it grates.
    But anyway – great recap and pricelss insights! Thanks!

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