Air travel in this day and age

My son Guy and I just completed a trip by air from the west coast of America to the northwestern coast of Africa. To do so, we had to take three different planes, had to change planes three different times.  We utilized two different airline companies.  We landed in three different countries.  It took us more than 36 hours from the time we left for the airport to the time we arrived at our destination.

We left the west coast of the USA at 10am on Saturday and arrived in Morocco at 3pm on Sunday. Not all of that was in the air.  8 hours of that is the time change. And then a bunch of the hours were in “layovers”.   Some of that time was in getting to the airport, going through security.  The time in the air was approximately 15 hours.

Layovers are the time one spends transferring from one plane to another in an intermediate airport. In our case, we had two.   One in Newark, New Jersey, and the other in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Newark layover was a reasonable 2 hours, but the Lisbon layover was over 5.5 hours.   Excruciatingly long.  This picture is of my son taking a little breather in the Lisbon airport.


The other component of air travel these days is your seat assignment. In our cases we both flew in coach class, not business or first class.  we wanted to fly in business or first because your “seats” in those classes go down into beds, not to mention the additional meal and drink service that you receive.

We specifically chose to fly United Airlines because both of us have Mileage Plus accounts with them, figuring that this would help us get “upgraded” from coach class to business class for at least one if not two of the legs of this trip. WRONG!

I am convinced that the mileage accounts with airlines in this day and age are worth almost nothing.

So, here is my Peterson Prescription for Flying in this day and age.

  1. Take the flight that is the most direct and/or cheapest regardless of airline. Forget accumulating miles as a reason to choose an airline.
  2. The exception to the above is Spirit Airlines or any of its imitators. They are outright awful. Never take them. Recently I paid extra for a seat in the front of the plane with extra leg room, only to find out that the seat did not recline. To find out, that not one seat in the entire airplane reclined. Holy cow!
  3. Pray that the person sitting next to you is a small, petite woman/man who will let you put your elbow on the arm rest between the two of you.
  4. Always get an aisle seat so that if you have to get up to relieve yourself you can.
  5. Bring food and drink with you. Assume that the airline will provide NOTHING.

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