It’s February & at this time of year I like to go online and amuse myself by pricing airline tickets to Florida for the kids’ spring break.
This is generally a purely mental exercise because I loath flying. Airports stress me out. Airlines with their baggage fees and change fees and general piss poor customer service stress me out too.
And lets not even get started on Homeland Security.
I have to send everything UPS to my destination because I refuse to pay luggage fees and assume everything I want to carry on is probably forbidden.
First I have to overcome all these mental hurdles to even bring myself to visit ohmygodourpricesaresolow.com or whatever site to compare fares.
Then my personal flight restrictions kick in.
1. No early morning flights. While there are 3 major & two minor airports in a 100 mile radius of me, most of them are at that outer limit & I am looking at least a 90 minute drive, probably more due to traffic, and since we have to be there at least an hour before departure I have to leave my house at 3am to catch a 6am flight.
and that shit ain’t happening.
2. No connecting flights. I am not paying hundreds of dollars to keep my children out of trouble for several hours in some random airport the airline simply MUST redirect all flights through. Southwest wants me to fly from Baltimore to CHICAGO before flying on to Florida. Really Southwest? Chicago? Delta wants me to go to Cincinnati. Atlanta (Air Tran) & Charlotte (US Air) are bad enough but at least they are on the SAME COAST as my departure & arrival cities. Why not route me through LA and Houston while we’re at it?
3. Probably I am being picky about this one. Closed minded and with no sense of adventure either. But still… it would be extra special nice if I could perhaps return to the airport I DEPARTED FROM a week previously. You know, so I can get to my car, which I foolishly left at the departing airport & couldn’t arrange for anyone to pick up and then move to the arrival airport for me. Or does the airline offer shuttle services from BWI to Washington-Dulles so travellers can pick up their vehicles from the other airport?
4. It would be handy if we could book seats next to one another but the boys are now old enough that I am willing to sit two rows away and listen to them scream and whine at some stranger for 3 hours. I’ll even look around with that half annoyed “why doesn’t that person shut that kid up?” look on my face when they do. Darn kids. Someone should control them. Pity I am too far away. Oh well.
5. The whole round trip flight has to meet these conditions AND come in at under $250 a ticket.
We’re not flying to Florida for Spring Break
Then I though “How about the train?” The boys would love the train! We have a train station 20 minutes away! And that is still only 20 minutes in traffic!
While our tiny town does have a train station, my parents’ thriving metropolis does not. Amtrak can get us to Tampa & then they put us on a bus.
I’m not taking a bus. Probably my parents would meet us in Tampa if we went that route & maybe we’d stay the night & do Busch Gardens the next day.
There is a 5 hour layover in DC. Sure there is plenty to do in DC and the Metro runs right through Union Station. But it’s 2 hours there, plus another 21 to Tampa. To then add another 5 hours is just wildly inconvenient. So I picked another station. This time there is a 4 hour layover in Richmond.
I could drive there myself quicker. And MUCH MUCH cheaper, considering it would be $450 a PERSON and that is just coach seats, not the kind you can recline & sleep in. Me & 2 kids in coach seats for 21 hours. I will be THAT MOTHER on the train. The one who simply stopped caring several hours ago and is now using her mp3 player to just sort of cling desperately to what little sanity she has left. Hoping it will last until she can hand the kids off to Grandma and collapse in a small sobbing heap in the backseat of the car. Don’t mention I have to do it all again next week to get home. PLEASE GOD DON’T MENTION IT!
I never wonder why parents are not controlling their kids better. I can recognize that glazed look of surrender from 1000 feet away. I’ve been there, I’ve done that & I assume you are there too now. I can’t help you but I won’t condemn you either.
So to recap
Flight – 2.5 hours to 7.5 hours depending on layover. $286 per person if I leave at 6am from an airport two hours away. $325 if perhaps I’d like to leave at a more civilized 9am.
Train – 21 hours if I drive 2 hours to the big train station. 26 hours if I go to a nearby station. $450 a person and I end up still being 4 HOURS AWAY from my destination!
Car – 19 hours if I don’t stop & folks, I have insomnia. A Pepsi Big Gulp at about 8pm would probably do the job. $150 in gas money. Plus $200 in hotel rooms if I feel a burning need to lay awake somewhere rather than drive on. But it would be just me. DH is not coming & he does 99% of the driving when we go to Florida. It will be a physical & mental challenge to do that drive alone.
It appears we will be spending Spring Break at home this year unless some late flight suddenly offers incredibly low fares.
I wonder how much seeing their grandkids is worth to my folks?