Thursday, December 15, 2011

Air Travel Circa 2011

Modern air travel is supposed to be seamless. Real-life experiences can, unfortunately, prove otherwise. That about sums up my trip from Denver to California this week.

Following a fun long weekend with the grandkids, hub and I were off to California; Santa Cruz to be specific. We are involved in a house swap. We planned almost two weeks in the area, visiting local tourist spots, taking side trips down the coast to see cousins and spending two days in San Francisco, hub working while I enjoy the sites.

But I am getting ahead of myself. We had to get to Santa Cruz first.

We arrived early at the Denver Airport. Hub had a business call, so we decided to get to the airport, through security, take the tram to the terminal and find our gate. Hub could take his call and we would be ready to get on the plane when it was time for boarding.

We drove my son’s car to the airport and parked it so he would have it when he returned from a business trip later that day. The parking lots were almost full. By the time we found a parking spot, unloaded our luggage and entered the main terminal it was time for hub’s phone call. No time to go through security. We found a coffee stand outside of security and settled in.

 Hub turned on his computer; he needed some information during the call. A few minutes later he passes me the computer. He had just received an e-mail from the airlines. Our flight to San Jose was canceled because of mechanical problems, or so we were told. We were rescheduled - on a flight leaving the next morning.

Hub immediately ended his phone call and we made our way to the airline desk. We did not want to wait until the next morning. Fortunately the airport was not busy. There was only a minimal line, so it was only a few minutes before we faced a customer service agent.

Hub handled the negotiations, and that’s exactly what they were. Novice travelers getting stuck in a similar situation often have no idea how to work the system.

 Airline personnel proved helpful once hub persuasively made it clear we could not wait until the next day. There was nothing available to San Jose that day on any airline. We then asked if we could get a flight to San Francisco. After phone calls and paperwork, we were rebooked on a flight to San Francisco on another airline.

Ironically when we planned the trip we initially looked at flying in and out of San Francisco, but it was expensive. Seeking alternatives we ended up with the San Jose flights.

We contacted the car rental agency. We now needed to pick up a car in San Francisco. Luckily that proved easy enough, although it will cost $45 more; the price includes a drop off fee for pick up in one airport and drop off at another (we are still planning to fly home from San Jose).

Before leaving the airline desk, hub asked about lunch vouchers; after all, we now had to spend the entire afternoon at the airport. We received two $6 vouchers. Now that goes far for airport food.

We were lucky hub travels frequently and knows how to handle these situations. I would not have been forceful enough or sufficiently familiar with the system to get what we wanted.

The goal was to get to our destination, and that was achieved. Air travel used to be an exciting adventure. Nowadays it is barely tolerated to reach our endpoint.


  1. I hate to fly. Will only do it if there's no other way. My last flight was to SFO in '06; before that, ORD in '01.

    I'm scheduled to fly to PHX in Feb. Hope US Air and Delta have their acts together.

  2. oh, I miss the days when I thought of air travel as something glamorous. Was I just young? I think it really has changed.

  3. We haven't had good look in the Denver airport either.

    We do home exchanges too - such a great way to live elsewhere inexpensively!

  4. When I lived in Boulder, I would travel out of that airport often. After 9/11 all travel got to be pretty awful and these days I can barely tolerate it. It's good your hubby knows how to handle these things! You were very fortunate to get out that day.

  5. Air travel has become such a hassle that many of us want to avoid it. I am driving to FL in a few days and thrilled not to be dealing with airports (especially at holiday time).