6/5/19 Missy’s Place, Fort Morgan, Colorado
We drove 350 miles yesterday, the ‘unofficial’ launch of Alaskan Odyssey. Of course, as I made clear in a previous post, this isn’t a road trip. And that fact, alone, means we have a lot of things to do different. For one thing, it means we will be without the trailer. We discovered how reliant we have been on our ‘little home away from home’ when we started packing our ‘stuff’ into suitcases. Try as much as I could, there was just no way to get everything we think we are going to need into two large suitcases. When doing a road trip with the trailer, that really isn’t a problem – the trailer pretty much holds everything we need plus a lot more. But suitcases are quite a bit smaller.
My goal was to be able to do most of our traveling once we are inside Alaska with just one suitcase. I really didn’t want to deal with multiple bags. In addition to keeping track of everything, I didn’t want to have to lug more than one bag in and out of airplanes and ferry boats. But the other side of that coin is that packing for two months away from home, with layers of clothing to accommodate the Alaskan weather, results in a huge pile of clothing, toiletries, and travel stuff and, sadly, it all spilled over into three bags. Maybe we can consolidate stuff a bit more so our smaller Alaskan side trips don’t require so much, but I kind of doubt it. I’m sure we are going to have to make stressful decisions.
One of them popped up yesterday morning, before we left home. I received an email from Expedia reminding me of our upcoming flight to Anchorage and a suggestion to choose our airplane seats. Since I had to wait for the dishwasher to finish anyway, I decided to look into that and, quickly, re-learned why I hate flying. It’s been many years since I’ve flown and I knew things had changed, but I wasn’t aware how much the change is for the worse.
As I’m looking at an airplane seating chart, I am astounded at how few seats were available. They had just sent me the email suggesting that I pick my seats and yet the airplane is already 90% full! How does that happen? How come I get left with the dregs of the seats – I’m paying a pretty penny for these flights and booked them months ago, but they wait until everybody else has chosen their seats to tell me to pick mine? Clearly I’m a novice at this. Or I didn’t pay enough money…
Next thing I note is that seats have different colors. And there is a key down at the bottom. The white ones are labeled Economy/Coach and that is the class I’m flying. There are only about six of those left. But then up around the wing there are some seats that are colored blue. They are labeled Economy Plus. Oh, and look how much extra legroom those seats have. That is really attractive, so I click on two of those thinking that I should get them before they disappear.
No sooner do I do that but a pop up window appears telling me that I get to pay extra money for those seats. Now we are already paying a pretty penny for these airline tickets, but the price for these ‘special’ seats with extra legroom for my 6’5” carcass is ‘just’ an extra $160…per person! The extra legroom idea was very appealing, but the extra money part was shocking. I backed off grabbing the ‘Economy Plus’ seats to have a conversation with Joan – was this worth it? I mean, yes, it is a five hour flight; I hate flying anyway; and I’m going to be hurting by the time I get off the airplane, so should we spend some money to mitigate the pain some? The decision itself is rather painful.
As I’m looking at these seat choices, I’m also noticing that there is some option to join a United club that would entitle me to a free checked bag. Oh, yeah, I forgot about the fact that, these days, they charge extra for checking bags. (Instead, it seems that airlines actually prefer the chaos of people trying to cram oversized ‘carryons’ into overhead bins that are already too full. If airlines had any brains at all, they would charge for carry-ons and allow unlimited checked bags, but no, that would be too sensible.)
So you can imagine how upset I am at discovering that our checked baggage is going to cost us an extra $100, $30 each for the first two bags and $40 for the third bag. Now, the overflow into a third bag is costing me extra money as well as inconvenience. Naturally, I look to see if there is a way I can avoid these baggage fees. Yes, I can join this club, but the per/person membership fee is over $100 and since I am not likely to fly United again any time soon, this isn’t worth it either. It appears that they got me – I’m stuck with the baggage fees. And so it now appears that the attractive air fare I found a few months ago is starting to look rather normal.
Back to the seating problem. Now that I have learned that I’m already looking at an extra $100 just to get my stuff to Anchorage, that Economy Plus package with the extra legroom is looking really unattractive – am I really supposed to double my flying costs just to travel moderately comfortable with all my ‘stuff’? This trip is already expensive, and I decide that I’m just going to suffer the Economy class legroom.
So I try to book seats. Lo and behold, while I’m dinking around learning that my baggage is unavoidably going to cost me an extra $100, I see that the two seats I had already picked for Joan and I were now gone – somebody had snatched them up while I was busy elsewhere. I look for two seats together because, well, I’d like to sit with my wife while traveling and the only two seats left together are in the very last row, right in front of the toilet. Terrific. Afraid that if I don’t grab them now, that I might wind up having to sit IN the toilet, I grab those last two seats.
We’re not even on the plane and I’m already a frazzled mess. Flying is so much fun.