Planes, trains, and automobiles…my version


I am traveling to my home town to visit my cousin in Illinois this week. In an effort to try to find the best deal, I searched last week to find costs to fly. The airlines truly take advantage of supply and demand when it comes to the number of seats available.

Last week since it was only a few days before I wanted to travel, the cost nonstop on AA  was over $700.00.  On other travel booking websites it was even more than that with one stop either in Chicago (nightmare to change terminals or gates)  or, depending on home base, other equally out of the way places like Atlanta or Minneapolis. Thus giving the customer the joy of waiting in terminals for connecting flights.

I looked for the same flights today and the cost on AA has been lowered to $512.00. There must be extra seats available. However, on the other airlines that do not fly non stop, the cost was now over $1,000.

As the song goes, that does not include the cost of travel to the airport and back ($60.00) or the choice of driving close to 40 miles (1/3 tank of gas) and parking (last check $7.00/day IF there is space in the remote lots, otherwise $10.00 or more.) Nor does it include the cost of checking a bag. ($25.00 each way) Nor does that include the costs of all the other fees.

The last time I flew, it was raining when I got to the home airport. There were only four people who had checked their bags. The other three received theirs and were gone. I had to wait….and wait…. I went to the baggage agent who tracked it down. Evidently it had been sitting in the rain on the tarmac or other area. My cloth bag was soaked as were all the clothes inside. I complained to the airline. They wouldn’t refund any money  for the cleaning of my wet clothes.(I asked for the price of checking my bag.)  They graciously extended to me 2500 travel points. I fly so seldom those points are worthless. They expire before I have enough to use them.

Then I had to wait for the shuttle I called to arrive. The waiting area was outside the terminal. Thankfully it had stopped raining by that time. There were about twenty soldiers also waiting in the same area, many of whom were smoking. I cannot stand second hand smoke. I smoked myself in my younger days and when I stopped, I developed an allergy. It causes my eyes to water, my nose to run, and my throat to get scratchy.

I waited….and waited. I called….and I called. This is a company that advertises thirty minutes between shuttles. I already had a paid round trip fare. A roving security guard passed by me several times. I explained why I was still there. HE called. Finally, after TWO hours, the shuttle arrived to bring me back to my hometown.

I checked with Amtrak. For a coach chair with senior discount the round trip cost is $280.00. I had a question, so I opted to speak with a live agent. I waited for about twelve minutes before he came on the telephone. After he answered my question, he asked me what the cost was on-line. When I told him, he said, “The train must only be half filled.” Evidently Amtrak depends on supply and demand as well. I just checked and I can’t tell what the cost would be now because the train is full for the days I wish to travel. That means I will have to share the seat with a stranger for over twenty hours. I usually sit next to the window if there is an empty seat next to me. I’ve had the fortune on several trips of having both seats. If I take that seat, every time I need to stretch my legs, I’ll have to climb over my seat mate. If I take the aisle seat, every time someone comes aboard with packages, it means getting hit several times with bags or purses as they travel the aisle.

If I had chosen a roomette, the cost each way is $255.00. I was back up to $800+ for my trip, not including the rental car I would need. The last train ride I took, I “treated” myself to such a place. The bed was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t sleep. The train rocked so much I found myself tightening my back muscles in an effort to keep from rolling. When I arose the next morning, I had no idea if I had a kidney stone or muscle strain. My back was killing me. I did enjoy the roomette for the quiet and privacy that it offered. I dislike full coaches with screaming babies and talking passengers who don’t know the meaning of “inside voices”. I also appreciated that my three meals were included in the price.

The train does not go to my home town. I have to disembark about forty five miles from there and rent a car. Enterprise has assured me they will be there to meet me at the train station. I do hope they keep their word.

On one of the websites there was a catch phrase, “Travel is an adventure.” I used to think an adventure is something to look forward to doing…something exciting. However, look at the first two meanings.

1.a. An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature.
b. An undertaking of a questionable nature
2. An unusual or exciting experience:
I think my “adventures” have come to be closer to being hazardous or questionable either to my health, my possessions, my time, or my money than to an exciting experience.  Does anyone else have any comments to share?
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Planes, trains, and automobiles…my version

  1. Personally, I’m not going to fly anywhere (unless it’s possibly on someone’s private jet. I’ll ask Bill Branson the next time I see him). Flying was bad enough in the Old Days, but with today’s TSA martinets, I’m not going there.

    Amtrak is marginally better. My wife has family in Seattle. A few years ago she took the train there and back.

    Coming back, it was about 24 hours late.

    During the return trip (the running-late trip), the dining car had to stop serving food. The children did not take this calmly.

    Not because they ran out of food. Because they ran out of order blanks.

    Then there are the times the train has to stop in the middle of the desert, because the crew has reached its 8-hour limit. Then the train waits for the helicopter to come out and bring the replacement crew.

    Air fares are going to go up because of the increase in the price of jet fuel. Train fares, probably, for the same reason.

    The world was getting smaller for a while there, but it’s starting to get bigger again.

    The last time I flew anywhere was in ’84 or so. We went to New Zealand for Halley’s Comet. It was a 24-hour flight, with one stop in Fiji. The flight was uneventful (as were the airports). Same coming back.

    The next time we see New Zealand, it will be on the Discovery Channel.

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