It’s The Getting There

Personal (Web).urlDoes this picture look familiar? It’s pretty much looks like the seats Kris and I had on our trip to Cancun. I wish now that we had of taken pictures because it’s still almost unbelivable. Add to the close confines, we were in the last row and we could hear the toilet everytime someone flushed. Oh and if you think the aisle seat is bad try the middle seat. 😦

While the leg room is apparent, the seats aren’t. The ones United has are slightly (note the word slightly) more padded than what you’d find in McDonalds. On the layover going down I talked with a lady that said United had recently changed their seating so they could get more seats in. From row 22 back the seats are closer together than the seats from 21 to the front of coach which you now have to pay extra for. One good thing, because Kris and I are 5’2” we had maybe an inch between us and the seat ahead.

We didn’t know this, coming back we purchased seats for $49. This means it cost right at $200 more for the flight. If we had of purchased seats both ways it would have added $400 to the flights. Again we weren’t aware of all of this. In the future United will be our last carrier of choice. Heck, guess I need to honest here. If the trip isn’t an absolute must do we’d stay home before taking another United flight. And it could be worse. $39 was the cheapest these seats went for. You could pay up to $194 and still be in coach.

So booking flights — we will try to patronize airlines that check the first bag without a fee and no additional seat costs except for upgrading to business or first class and that cost will be for a ticket not additional fees. Right now I’m thinking Jet Blue or Virgin. We may pay more for the ticket but then again maybe not with all the additional fee’s some airlines are charging.

Okay so that is our experience with seating and what I call hidden or at least partially concealed fees. Now for airport management. As you can see the Cancun trip went from high highs to low lows. In fact when we stepped off the plane back home in Seattle I took a look at us and said, “You know if I didn’t know better I wouldn’t guess we were coming back from a relaxing luxery vacation. Instead I’d be thinking we look more like we need one.” 🙂

For the past few years it has been harder to get through the airports but this is pretty much universal and we just allow more time. Except — Coming back we had a layover in Houston and of course that meant customs. The connecting flight was less then an hour, but thinking that the airline wouldn’t have set it up if it wasn’t possible we weren’t worried. WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN WORRIED.

The scenerio.

  • First get off the plane. Easy. NOT. With a lot of people not wanting to pay the $25 to check their bags they have more carry on’s. In fact on all of our flights they announced that the overheads were full and they would check the bags for free. What this means is it takes longer to get out of the plane. Especially since the overheads the bags are in can sometimes be rows behind the passenger. Result: It takes longer to get off the plane. A lot longer and if our experience is anything to go by the airlines haven’t caught up with the fact so that they make allowances when scheduling connecting flights.
  • Get through customs. They have an automated keosk now. It’s supposed to speed things up. Or at least I think that’s why they are using it. Whatever, trust me, it isn’t working.
  • Get your checked baggage. This may be less than it used to be but it still takes awhile to get off the plane and onto the carousel. Still this might have been the best managed part of the procedure. Or maybe it was just that we were familiar with this part.
  • Go through customs with the baggage. This might have worked except that there were mulitple lines and ours wasn’t manned. You can’t see this when you get in line as you’re a few blocks back. The two manned booths were supposed to take turns with our line but… didn’t happen.
  • Back to recheck the bags. This worked well. The people were even really courteous.
  • Last point through security. The lady looked at me and asked my age. For once it was an advantage to be old. She motioned me through a quicker portal.

Now for the sprint to the gate. We hadn’t even stopped for a potty break. At the one check point I knew we couldn’t make it and asked for a courtesy cart. The attendant said and this is a direct quote. “Oh, you can make it, but if you don’t, just go up to the desk and they will reimburse you.” You’ve got to be kidding.

I think you can guess the scenerio here. We came in on E9 and were going back out on E9 but they had routed us a long ways from that gate. By the time we got there the boarding was done and we walked right on. Another 5 to 10 minutes and we would have missed the flight.

If you haven’t stopped reading by now—conclusion. When shopping for a flight the cheapest isn’t always the cheapest. Pay more and oh my gosh I hope this equates to ‘get more.’

Happy flying. We are (maybe were) thinking of next year in Jamaica but it will for sure depend on the flights. As I write this I’m thinking of one I’ve already book. In fact I booked it before the Cancun flight. It’s with US airways and yes I paid for a seat and it’s only a couple of hours. Still not looking forward to it.

There are a number of quotes around journey. Like this one. “Getting there is half the fun…” Oh yeah try flying the friendly sky’s with United. 🙂 🙂

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16 responses to “It’s The Getting There

  1. Ugh. Sounds like you had a rough time. And yep. Airlines seem to be making it tougher and tougher to interpret the fees. I flew Frontier a few years ago and it was awesome, but now, everyone I’ve talked to says they are horrible. I tend to take West Coast trips, it’ seems, so I fly Alaska usually and pay for the checked bag. And I’m still happy with Alaska, even though I’d prefer a bit more seat room.
    One hour to get through customs and on a connecting flight. Yikes! I’m glad you made it! And at least you didn’t have to sit on hard airport seats waiting for your flight. You just had to endure the hard airplane seats flying home. Again, ugh! I feel your pain, but I remember the Cancun blog and honestly? I think it was worth it. Now, could someone convince my hubby of that? lol

  2. Well that sounded like loads of”fun”. I am probably the worlds worst flyer and only when Jim insists buy we have had Good Luck with Alaska and Jet Blue. They have always checked out bags for free because overhead is full. Me I’ll take the car thank you!!

  3. Yikes, that sounds like a real fun time. Not. Some of the ‘budget’ airlines here charge pittance for the seats, but hike up the charges on the extras. We much prefer the train and usually visit places in Europe where we can take the Eurostar and then connecting trains on the continent. We just show out ticket at the gate, then walk right on to the train, bags and all. Then straight off at our destination and we’re in a taxi within minutes and being whisked to the hotel/apartment.

    • I wish train travel was easier and better here. It’s nice to some destinations and we can only hope it will get better. We’ve been doing more road trips but that doesn’t work when we go out of country.

  4. I avoid budget airlines but after last year’s fiasco at the airport with a major holiday airline, I fear it is happening all the more often. We checked in with our luggage on line, yet still had to queue for nearly an hour to actually hand the luggage in. No choice with seats. I was subject to three pat down searches, each time more intrusive, then my hand luggage was taken out item by item, opened and checked and the bag swabbed for drugs! My sisters (65) and niece (32) thought it funny – me, a 60 year old grandmother going on holiday with family being frisked. I mean, do I look shifty? And this was going out! I’m all for safety and understand reasons but this was too much. In previous years, us four women were always well treated, always got extra leg room seats when checking in and never had to queue. And I won’t even mention the delays we had at passport control with these new fancy passport scanners. We enjoy travelling, always make it enjoyable and part of the fun but I can understand why our mum no longer wants to fly. Wondering now what this years flight will be like. Yes, we’re still going abroad regardless.

    • Your experience was a lot like ours. And these are the major airlines. In fact United has been around for a long time. We simply need an alternate way to travel. I was watching Amazing Race the other night and the racers were in Japan and using Bullet Trains. Of course that wouldn’t help international travel, but it might give the air lines pause for thought.

  5. Valerie J. Patterson

    My friend had such a horrid go of it at the airport that she missed her flight. They put her on the next flight because they “admitted” they contributed to her missing the initial flight. However, the flight they put her on got her to the next airport AFTER her connecting flight had already departed. As she was going to see her son and daughter-in-law with time constraints, she missed the visit all together. NOT a happy flier!!

    Hope your next flight is better, Lavada!! At least it didn’t ruin your trip.

    • Valerie, what a horrible experience. And, I’m not sure what can be done about it. The airlines, at the least the recent flights I’ve been on, are booked solid so the airlines have no incentive to give us better service. They are making money. What I’m going to do is start really trying to book with airlines like Jet Blue and Virgin that charge more initially but don’t have all the hidden costs. I am glad Jack and I traveled when the skies were friendlier. I’m not sure I’d want to take 12+ hour flights now days.

  6. Flying “used to be fun.” Now I dread it. Unfortunately, in order to get to certain places it is the only mode of transportation that you can take and still have time to enjoy your vacation. Now that I’m retired it’s not such a problem. However, when you’re working you usually only have a certain amount of time and driving is out of the question.

    • So true, and like you retirement gives me the option for a road trip. Except this trip was to Cancun. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and commenting. It’s been awhile. I talked to your mother the other day and talking about road trips need to take a run up there.

  7. Update on getting there. I just got home from Phoenix and this time I flew USAir. It was like the other end of the spectrum from the United flight. The seats were softer, and ample leg room for all the rows. I didn’t have to pay extra to get a decent seat. The boarding was better. This flight was like flights of old. Even the online check-in was easier. So… my consumer dollars won’t be spent with United. It’s the only recourse for that kind of service I can think of.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      You’re absolutely right, Lavada…sometimes the only recourse is to make certain you don’t give a company any more of your hard earned cash!! So glad your recent flight was so much better than the last. 😛

  8. I can totally relate to this whole post. I LOVE to be other places but I hate, hate, hate the travel part. HATE it.
    I’ve heard so many United horror stories I would never pick them- I’m sorry you had such a yucky experience.

    • You say it well. We hadn’t heard the United stories but I’m telling anyone and everyone that I can. The only resource we have is our consumer dollars and I’m not spending another nickel with United. The sad thing they had a full flight and the US Air that I just took and was so much better didn’t.

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