27 March 2010

Flying The Friendly Skies

Do you like to fly?
When I started thinking about it I realized that question is more complex than it initially appears. Some, the "White Knucklers", will immediately answer with a resounding NO!

But my question today really refers more to "traveling by air" than the physical act of flying.
The whole process of flying somewhere with the airlines, for me, is rapidly approaching the point where I'll have a decision to make-
Is this time savings worth the trouble?
And that question will ultimately be determined by the number of hours spent devoted to the entire process... planning, packing, and the total movement to go somewhere. I fear as travel becomes more and more complex, folks like me will just determine it's not worth the trouble at all.

Going somewhere requires you to think ahead about what you'll need when you get there.
Heavy clothing? Shorts and polo shirt? Both? Skiing? Golf?

And for Sara Jean... Special Shampoos/hair stuff, face cleaning stuff, face painting stuff, eye enhancing stuff, moisturizers, tanning stuff... I could go on and on but you get the picture. We MUST have it all. And what about packing it? Will it explode do to changes in pressure? How to prevent that?

The flight departs at 1730 hours. We have to back-plan from that point. We need to arrive at the airport at least an hour before departure. I like to fudge that a little when, like last evening, we're leaving on Friday or Sunday night, because there are always more people trying to get outta Dodge. Yesterday I allowed 90 minutes.
The drive to the airport at BigTown takes two hours. What if we have tire trouble? What if there's an accident along the way that traps us in a jam? I allotted 150 minutes for the drive. That makes our "getting there on time for departure" time 240 minutes... 4 hours. To depart at 1730, we have to be out the door at 1330 hours.
But we have two dogs to think of now. Dropping them off at their respective caregiver's homes adds another 30 minutes to the plan... out the door at 1300 hours.
At some point you begin to wonder, "Is it worth this?" And I think the answer to that question more and more will be "No".

A comfortable drive to Los Angeles would take 3 days and would put close to 2100 miles on our car. Coming home would double those figures. Driving here was not an option. But what about shorter trips?
In the four hours it takes to drive to the airport, make our way through the security check and board the airplane, we could be 240 miles down the road to our destination in our car, and in many cases the dogs could come along. If you then add the flight time to the destination and the time getting from the destination airport to the place you really want to spend your time, you have a matrix for the "travel by air?" decision.
For me, the breaking point is now somewhere around 1,000 miles + -.
Trips less than 1,000 miles will be driven. Trips over 1,000 miles MAY be driven if the destination airport is not close to where we need to be.

Airlines are in a dilemma and have to be pulling their hair out-
They have to insure folks arrive safely, but the checking-in and security process is already cumbersome and looks like it will get worse. Add to their woes the increasing costs of fuel and insurance, and you have some understanding why you're now packed into an airplane like a sardine in a can.

Thinking about what I've written above I realize the question is not really "fly or drive?". It's really "fly or don't go at all?".
More and more, I think the answer may be "Let's just stay home."
This is the change. Where's the hope?


cj said...

Never been a problem for me. I know what I'm about to say is blasphemy but...

I've never flown. Anywhere.

Driven lots of places and enjoyed doing it.


wksaz said...

I like to think that the "air taxi" concept is gaining momentum, but I'm afraid that security concerns will kill that idea in the short term. I sincerely hope not. It is what civilized people would like to do I believe.

As for me with four now to fly somewhere counting my two kids, it would begin to make even more sense financially.....

We live near a major airport and I can beat the majors to most any destination inside 6-7 hours drive time. And like you said GB, with all of my s**t in tow and still armed to boot! Bonus!!!


wksaz said...

If you want to read about air taxis....post it if you wish GB.



Cissy Apple said...

The way I look at it, if it takes eight hours or less to drive, you'd be insane to fly. It takes us two hours to get to the nearest airport...two hours early for security checks...there's four hours. Flight time, delays...most times you could have driven there in the same amount of time or less.

But I like flying, especially takeoffs and landings. I'm not too fond of flying halfway around the world, but a nine-hour flight is A-OK with me. And I didn't much the first flight of our Italy trip when the plane began doing some roller coaster moves due to some hydraulic problem and we had to divert to Detroit.

I first flew back in 1987 when I was hired by a contractor and had to fly to DC for orientation--and it was all by myself. I kept watching the other passengers for signs of fear so I'd know when I was supposed to be more scared than I already was. My new co-worker sat next to me, and everytime I saw a flap move, I'd ask him if it was supposed to do that. He assured me it was.

I kept waiting for some strange hairy creature to land on the wing and begin ripping into the engine. Fortunately, that never happened.

The Old Man said...

Flying in CONUS is not an option anymore. Not for me or the L&T. We're heading to Santa Fe this summer (I'll be yalking to you) and we're driving both ways.
And I have no desire to leave CONUS. There be dragons out there...

Rita said...

Since I'm only 30 minutes from a major airport, I vote flying if it's over 5 hours.

First flight was in 1976, school trip which my mother nearly nixed because she thought she would be afraid of flying. Several years later, her first flight was with me because she finally thought if the flight went down with me in it, she would rather be in it too. AND it was the worst flight for turbulence I have ever been on, she thought it was normal and has been flying ever since.

I hate the landings the most, but I would rather fly anywhere versus fighting the traffic and wasting precious vacation time on the road. Two hours I can be in Fort Myers, otherwise it takes two days.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I haven't flown commercial since 2006. In that year, because I was attending my Masters classes some 400 miles away, I flew monthly.

I had to then.

I don't have to now.

I'm not certain I possess the tolerance or patience.

Unless I have to traverse the entire width of the US or another continent, I'm DRIVING.


the golden horse said...

We don't have much of a choice, I am just careful to avoid LAX. They still believe in 4 hour layovers.
If we were 8 hrs away or less we would drive.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

I have to fly commercial back to Alaska to put my project plane together.

After I get it down to my new home in the lower 48, I really don't see taking a jet again.

All the promotions about airline miles and such... really, I couldn't care.

Ingineer66 said...

That sounds like quite an ordeal. I try to drop the dogs off several hours or the night before we leave. And we live 7 minutes from the local small airport. Security is quick and easy, and then jump on the puddle jumper to SFO. That is where the fun starts because they have lots of delays due to weather and not having enough separation between the runways. But I would much rather fly if it is more than 6 or 7 hours of drive time.