Saturday, September 21, 2013


Does air travel suck a whole lot more than it used to? Out of two round trip itineraries on separate airlines, all four legs of the trip were screwed up. Mom's trip on Delta changed before our trip to a much earlier return flight that would have necessitated us checking out at something like 3am in Sun Valley. Took some work to return to a more reasonable return flight. I had to keep separate itineraries coordinated, as mom lives in Michigan.

Then upon checking in online for return flights, I could not check mom in. Apparently her tickets weren't properly re-issued. She had no seats. Major scare. About a half hour on the phone was needed to fix that.

Those were the easy problems. I already mentioned our issues flying out on Southwest. Our first flight out of Manchester was delayed over 2hrs, putting us in Baltimore after our connection to Salt Lake City left. We barely made that connection because it was delayed 15 minutes and we sprinted from plane to plane.

Then on return flight, Southwest did exactly the same thing to us again. They delayed our flight out of SLC by more than our layover time in Chicago. They email these things just hours before your flight. I was driving 4.5hrs to airport when I got this email. Needless to say, I went ape shit and mom got to experience a solid Hill Junkie hissy fit.

At first, Southwest said they could put us on a flight out of Chicago the next morning for no extra charge. Seriously Southwest? I spent the night in south Chicago once not knowing any better when Southwest failed me before. I was not doing that again. They then put me on hold for 10 minutes, found another way to get me to Manchester via Denver the same day.  I was relieved, but only temporarily. Before the rep could claim the seats, they were already gone. We were back to square one, spending the night somewhere not in our own bed and on our own nickel.  I became very "persistent." On hold again for another 10+ minutes, meanwhile driving 85mph on the highway in the middle of desolate nowhere, the rep came back with seats through Denver (speed limit is 80mph out here). Don't know what she had to do. Didn't ask and didn't care. I was at least grateful they could fix it. What bothers me though is how cavalier airlines have become with changing itineraries.

I think the only safe thing to do for bike trips out west these days is to book direct flights to as close as you can get to where you're going, then drive the rest of the way. That probably means using Logan more often. Manchester is only 25 minutes away and much cheaper to leave a car at, but the added stress of making connections isn't worth it. Two hour layovers aren't enough anymore.

This SLC/Jackson/Ketchum trip has certainly been one of my most stressful vacations. Between chaotic travel and unpredictable weather, I needed to ride just to undo stress.  I did ride most of the terrain I wanted to explore. Wifey and mom certainly had a good time, as their activities while I was riding were less dependent on weather. They weren't going out of their way to find snow or storms either. At least I got two bluebird sky days in Sun Valley. The trip wouldn't have felt complete without that. It is expected to hit 88F, potentially record high in SLC, as we leave. Big contrast to riding in snow a few days earlier.

No near term trips on the horizon right now. Wouldn't rule out an extended weekend solo getaway later this fall.  Have to see how a new project at work ramps up first.


Brian B said...

Basically an oligopoly...couple that with flying in/out of a small(er) flights...yes you've hit every potential pitfall in air travel. If you ever have an opportunity to fly Virgin's the best airline out there currently. They are pushing expansion monthly.

Scott said...

Try another visit to Cottonwood (AZ). I highly recommend Upper Raptor Trail and Rust Bucket Trail (the latter is ridgeline singletrack at its finest, IMO), both of which can be accessed easily from Dead Horse Ranch State Park (cheap, and has showers).

Hill Junkie said...

Scott - Maybe next spring. Trying to gather a posse to rent a house for a week. Sedona is on list of potential home bases.