08 March 2006

Travel Tip 102 - US Domestic Travel

I learnt a lesson the hard way thrice during my current US trip, which I think I ought to share with everybody and hope that one will never have to go through the same "hassle" that I did.

While we all know that we have to arrive earlier for international flights than domestic, it must be added that we also have to arrive earlier at the departure gate prior to boarding.

I have, on 3 consecutive occasions, gotten myself into a situation where I arrived at the gate after everybody has boarded the plane. What essentially happened is that by the time I got to my seat, my overhead stowage space has been taken up by somebody else. Yes, even if you are traveling in First Class... well, for US domestic flights anyway. The problem is less on international routes as the equipment in use are often the bigger birds. However, on US domestic routes, we travel more often than not in DC-9s, 757s, 737s, Airbus 320 or even CRJs. This is where you need to play the game or risk getting into all sorts of inconveniences.

The law of the jungle in US air travel is that "Possession Is Nine-tenths Of The Law". You snooze. You lose. If you are lucky, you just need to walk further down the aisle and find an empty overhead space somewhere behind and chuck your bag there. The real problem will arise when it is time to get off the plane. Everybody will be standing in the aisle, facing the exit and waiting impatiently to get off the plane, while the unfortunate you would have to weave in and out among these folks to get to your bag, which incidentally also set you back by a few rows, even further away from the exit. While one may say that one could simply just sit back and relax while waiting for the plane to clear before going for your carry-on luggage. Well, my naive friend, not so if you have a very tight connection schedule. Any delay getting off the plane may see you sprinting from one terminal to another just so that you don't miss the connection. Do we need to travel like that?

As bad as it sound, that is the lesser of the two evil coz in the event of really no space, you may be forced to check-in your luggage at curb-side. Heaven forbid! I bid your fragile and valuable belongings like your laptop good luck. In most cases, you have to take out the laptop and that is assuming you don't have to fumble and spilling your luggage getting the bladdy thing out, in front of a live audience.

Yes my dear, you have just become the inflight entertainment clown.

So tip of the day is to be there early at the gate, even if you are traveling in First/Business Class. Do not wait for the PA announcements in the First/Business Class lounge to call. It would be too late. Manage your own time. Go buy a watch or something. It would be trickier if you are traveling in Economy class as there would be more passengers. Use every opportunity to pre-board i.e. if you are and Elite status frequent flyer, use it to your fullest advantage.

Bon voyage and fly safe.

- Voxeros

1. aloe left...
Tuesday, 7 March 2006 10:20 am
er... I missed the flight twice even though I was around the boarding area cos Never Hear the Announcement!! In fact, they din have an announcement... wah liew!! Heng got other flights to the same area... ROFL!

2. mht left...
Tuesday, 7 March 2006 11:02 am
such is the situation where 'kiasuism' put you in good stead.
i dunno about US domestic flights, ch1na domestic flights are nightmarish too!

3. kim left...
Tuesday, 7 March 2006 10:29 pm
Ya, in this kinda situation, you must 发扬光大 the Singaporean spirit of kiasuism! Don't care about throw face.

mht: Ya lo! Ch1na's trains are terrible too. If Singaporeans are deemed kiasu, they are worse.

4. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 8 March 2006 6:52 am :: 
Anna: Perhaps you had your earphones plugged in?
There are a few factors, other than no announcements, that we can hear the PA.
1) It was such an old airport that the PA speakers crapped out.
2) The airport is big but the volume of the speakers were not acoustically adjusted accordingly i.e. too soft or too muffled.
3) And in the case of HK's Chap Lap Kok airport, it's the slurring of the announcing gate agents due to the fact that she is too embarrassed about her English that she tries to get away by mumbling her way through.

mht: Ch1na domestic flight will not need my Tip 102 coz nobody queues up to board the flight. Even if you are in First Class, unless you are game for a rugby scrum, you are not going to be any way near the front.

kIm: Kiasuism is not a trait of a nationality but more of a race. Ch1nese have the kiasu DNA in them. Period.

5. aloe left...
Wednesday, 8 March 2006 9:51 am
*bish* No, I did not have earphones on... -_-"' At a foreign airport, of course you will keep your ears open for these announcements la! Mentally reminded oneself to listen for the announcements but boh leh! Their timing also not accurate de. Keep changing or flight delayed or cancel flight etc. Planted ourselves right beside the booth for the 3rd flight... Now that I recall, think the 1st flight was cancelled, missed the 2nd and got onto the 3rd. hiaz...
Sorry, not only Ch1ne5e have the kiasuism trait. It's actually the entire human race. The only diff is the amount of that kia5u DNA u have in u...

6. akk left...
Wednesday, 8 March 2006 9:59 am
anna is absolutely right. it's the degree, not whether u have or not, hehehe...

7. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 8 March 2006 11:36 am :: 
Anna: Flight cancellations are quite common and it pays if you are their frequent flyer as you will get priority over other passengers when it comes to rerouting.

Akk: You're probably right. Humans are all kiasu, one way or the other.

8. Lynne left...
Wednesday, 8 March 2006 11:39 am
Me always suay suay miss the "Elite" status one, damn unlucky! :(
Come to US neber contact me??!?!!

9. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 8 March 2006 12:44 pm ::
Lynne: You probably need 2 long haul flights per year to hit at least Silver Elite on the same airline.
Aiyah. I was only in MSP for like what? 4 hours? You neber gib me your fone lumber, how I contact you?

10. Pam left...
Wednesday, 8 March 2006 8:32 pm
hey, sorry haven't chatted for a long time - been really really busy, it's getting to rather ridiculous proportions. hope you get the right flights re our earlier IM. let me know if i can help. p

11. JayWalk left...
Wednesday, 8 March 2006 9:11 pm ::
Pam: Thanks for your input on the travel stuff. Have decided to just book every thing here one shot from HK.

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