December 7, 2008

Travails of Travel

We flew to Seattle on Thursday and it made for a long day. We live two hours from Dulles so I have to plan for plenty of time to get there and get through security. We got up at 5:30 AM for a 12:30 PM flight. I allowed extra time:
  • 2 hours 15 minutes to get ready, pack the car, and get on the road.
  • 15 minutes to stop at the kennel in Woodstock
  • Two hours to drive to Northern Virginia
  • Half an hour to grab something for lunch since I can't get allergen-free food on the plane
  • 2 hours to park at the airport, take the bus to the terminal, go through security, take the other bus to the gate, etc. I knew I'd have to get my boarding pass at the airport because I had been unable to do so online the night before, although Frank was allowed to get his.
This seemed safe and it turned out to be enough but just barely. My unexpected delay was getting sick. I had just purchased a prescribed medication the previous afternoon, and decided to follow directions for my second dose and take it on an empty stomach. Big mistake! I was so nauseous I had to stop for a while and put everything on hold until I started to feel better and could walk around without reeling from dizziness.

Fortunately, things went more smoothly after that. The kennel was not busy for a change and so processed Ben's paperwork without delay. We didn't hit significant traffic jams. I purchased a chicken lunch in Chantilly and took it with me to eat at the airport. We had enough time to pull up at the departure area and drop off the big suitcase at United's outdoor baggage check-in. (Frank had been able to do an internet baggage check-in the night before, which seems almost useless to me except that it saved us three bucks.) Then we parked in the economy lot and took the shuttle bus back to the airport.

I tried to get my boarding pass at a machine. No luck. I tried a different machine. It simply would not process me. I had to find the correct line and wait in it for a while. Finally it was my turn and I got my boarding pass. We headed for security and had the usual delays as we waited to be humiliated by having to strip off jackets and shoes and place our cellphones, keys, and so on in bins to be looked at. Eventually we got all that stuff back in place and got our shoes on, took the diesel-stinking old bus they call a mobile lounge, and found our gate. Frank went up to see if any seats at become available since few were left when we booked our flight two weeks prior and we had each gotten a middle seat in a different row. Meanwhile I wolfed down my chicken and rice. He was told that nothing else was available, and boarding began before he had a chance to eat the snacks he had bought. Then our name was called and we learned that someone else had changed seats so now we could sit together and he had an aisle seat.

This was a great improvement although the leg-room is so slight on United that we were still uncomfortable all the way to Seattle. And getting in and out of the tiny seat was hard for me because with my right shoulder still sore, I couldn't push myself up on that arm to help with the necessary contortions. At least our flight actually arrived there a little early.

P.S. After I was unhappy with United Airlines last year, I refused to use them for a while. Unfortunately, they took away my accumulated frequent flyer miles because i didn't have activity on the account for 18 months! I hope to find a better airline flying nonstop to Seattle before we make this journey again. United seats are just too cramped, and some of their employees are rather surly. Not recommended.


  1. So other than that, your trip thus far is awesome? Sadly the only other non stop is Alaska from DCA, which sometimes does not have a direct return flight.

  2. It's always great to see Ryley and Josie. They are so full of joy and exploration. Very bright kids.

    We were switched to an Alaska Air flight back on a previous trip when our United flight was canceled. The seats were just as crowded. Of course, since we were switched just an hour before our original flight time, no aisle seats were available so we were really cramped.


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