Notes to self: Travel

I just got back from Christmas with my family in New Mexico. (Lisbeth is due on Februry 5th, so she stayed in Denmark and had Christmas with her family.) This was the first time I’d had two stopovers, and I was a little surprised at how much difference that one stop makes the trip. I saved about $400 doing it this way, so that’s $200 each way… but I’m not sure it’s worth it.

It’s not really the layover that’s the problem. I don’t mind having time to stretch my legs, and if it’s no longer than three hours, the time isn’t really the issue. The problem is that each layover increases the chances of a missed, delayed or cancelled flight. Coming into I came very close to missing my flight in Houston. So that’s one lesson — saving some money can cause a missed flight. But I noticed a few other things about air travel on this trip.

For example, why do airlines board people from the back of the plane to the front? Boarding should be done by depth instead. People with window seats should board first, then people with middle seats, and aisle seats should be filled last. Boarding back to front causes a lot of trouble because it concentrates everyone into a specific part of the plane, a fact compounded by the fact that people are constantly having to get up and stand in the aisle in order to let people get to their seats. Boarding window-to-aisle would mean that once you sit down, you can stay seated and don’t occupy the aisle again.

Another thing I realized was that there’s a big difference between planes that seat eight people across vs. nine. SAS sits eight across, and that’s pretty nice because you never have to ask more than one person to get up when you need to get up. That’s because there are two seats, an aisle, four seats, another aisle, and then two seats. Even if you’re sitting on the inside in the center aisle, you’re still only one seat from an aisle. 

In contrast, Contintental uses nine seats across — three sets of three. So every passenger with a window seat has to displace two people to get to the aisle. That wouldn’t be a huge problem for a two hour flight, but for a ten hour flight — where people try to sleep and where it’s really important to stay hydrated and therefore there are multiple trips to the bathroom, it’s really annoying.

By the way, on the Continental flight, they gave us real metal silverware. This kind of makes me mad. In the years since 9/11, I’ve lost hundreds of dollars worth of tiny little keychain tools and screwdrivers in the name of security, all of which were less dangerous than metal butter knives or a metal fork.

But maybe the real lesson here is that layovers give me way too much time to think…

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