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As you may have seen, we just wrapped up a trip with extended family to the mountains in North Carolina. It was overall a great trip, and emphasized for me the importance of getting the next generation together to play! While the parents drink wine, of course….
Anyway, our flight home was on US Airways out of Charlotte. We used the $99 companion passes that come with the US Airways credit card (the tickets did earn United miles), and overall we felt like we got a solid deal on our tickets. Thanks to having Global Entry, we qualified for Pre-Check going through the airport (which means liquids, computers, and shoes stay put) so security was a breeze, and we then headed straight to the US Airways Club (thanks to our United Club credit card). Okay, all of that was nice and not necessarily “the norm” for family travelers. I know that our travel experience is sometimes a bit “pampered” due to elite status and credit card benefits. We travel so frequently that I am so thankful when parts of it are easy – otherwise I’m sure we would not be able to leave the house without serious negotiations!
However, once we got to the gate our experience certainly couldn’t be described as pampered in any way. It was the very normal peak summer travel experience that makes some think that flying is a bit of a pain in the rear. The gate was over-stuffed with people thanks to a delayed flight ahead of ours that had not had the aircraft show up, but had also not yet experienced a gate change. Though thankfully there was room to sit on the floor and balance an orange on our nose as entertainment.
Once we boarded our very full flight it was obvious that the distance between us and the seat in front of us on this 737-400 was far less than on our outbound A320 US Airways aircraft, and certainly much less than the United E+ seats we have gotten
spoiled with used to. Thankfully, I knew better than to bring the car seat on-board in those seats as C’s legs would have been jammed against the seat in front of hers, but there was nothing I could do about the jamming that happened to my 6’3″ husband’s legs. Clearly he would survive, but in no world was it going to be fun or comfortable.
The cramped space alone was enough to make the flight “fun”, but the real fun started when the lady across the aisle decided it was a good time to give herself a pedicure, or at least pick at her feet. I think she started hating life a few minutes into the flight since seated all around her was a family flying with what appeared to be four children under the age of four. It wasn’t exactly a quiet flight…though the parents certainly seemed to do their best!
So, cramped seats, hot and old plane, absolutely no in-flight entertainment or WIFI, exposed dirty feet next to you, multiple crying children, and your own vacation-weary child. To make it more fun, the bag of food we bought in the airport had broken while boarding, so I got covered in what was left of our dinner. Glamorous? I’m going with no. In fact, it was really not fun at all. It was a bit of a mind game to keep calm in a hot, noisy, confined space while keeping a smile on your face for your own child.
However, the plane landed safely, on-time, and the view from the wing was, as usual, outstanding. So with a few yoga moves and a good night’s sleep (and maybe a shower?) the rest is just a distant memory and all a part of the sometimes “glamorous” travel process.
I wanted to share this very ordinary flight experience because contrary to what you may think if you spend enough time reading miles and points blogs, not all trips are filled with lie-flat seats, personalized service, and warm nuts served with hot towels. In fact, most are very much the opposite. For most people, on most trips, airplanes are just the “Greyhounds of the skies” that serve to get you from Point A to Point B in less than ideal conditions, albeit with great speed and a good view.
What type of trips do you most frequently encounter? Five star service in the sky, or a somewhat uncomfortable, yet efficient way to get from Point A to Point B?