Saturday, March 24, 2012

Westward Bound Once Again

 It has been three months since my last plane trip. Now once again hub and I are on a Southwest Airlines plane on our way to the stunningly beautiful, hopefully snow-covered, yet early spring warmth of the Rocky Mountains. We anticipate an action-packed week with the grandkids and their Mom and Dad.

But first we have to get there. Plane travel can be a stressful, tiresome and irritating activity, replete with long airport lines, crowds, the hassle of packing, stopping newspapers and mail, making sure the house is in order before leaving.

My husband cannot understand why I must clean the house before leaving for a vacation. We have been married forty years and he still is amazed when he has finished packing, rolls his suitcase out of the bedroom and finds me cleaning the kitchen. “Oh, yes, I forgot,” he says sarcastically, “the house has to be clean before we can leave.”

Not that it is clean most of the rest of the time – like when we are home. I am not a stickler for a clean house. My tolerance for clutter and mild chaos is fairly high. I will use every excuse imaginable to put off cleaning. The phone rings, I have to talk to a friend…Our elderly neighbor is sitting outside on his front porch; I must go over and say hello…I forgot to buy something I need for dinner. I will walk around to the grocery store and buy a few things…Time to check my e-mail…Snail mail call!

But leaving the house for several days requires more attention and diligence. What if our neighbor/house watcher needs to get into the house? What if something happens to me, hub, or both of us and family and friends need to enter the house?

If family or friends enter the house it will not be too messy. There are clean sheets on all the beds. The bathrooms are clean. I watered the plants. The refrigerator is just about empty, but there are provisions in the freezer.

I have strayed from my discussion of our so-far pleasant trip on Southwest Airlines.

Over the years we have spent a lot of time searching for the best flights (read: cheapest). We usually manage to find reasonable prices, unless we have to fly certain dates, such as around holidays. As a result we have experienced trips on a variety of different airlines, including Spirit Airlines, United, Delta, USAirways, Air Tran (purchased by Southwest recently), and American. I have a few points on several airlines. Hub does a lot of business travel and has accumulated numerous points on a couple of airlines. Sometimes we secure free flights, but that is becoming more and more difficult to do. Airlines have cut the number of flights and made it challenging and sometimes impossible to cash in mileage points.

But once again I wander. A lot of airlines now charge for any extras they can dream up, such as for the privilege of boarding early or checking bags.

Southwest allows passengers to check two bags apiece at no extra charge.  Our boarding process was quick and seamless. The seats are fairly comfortable. I have been on planes where the seats are very close together, providing minimal leg or shoulder room. The attendant gave the required opening safety and other announcements with a touch of humor.

Our westward bound trip is off to a good start. Colorado, here we come!