Will Bueché

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Chronicles of the frightened traveler: prelude

Posted in Personal by Will on Tuesday, September 27th, 2005 ~ 1am

Oh, my God. The chronicles of the frightened traveler continue. Looking at how I may fly to Albuquerque at the end of next month, I learn that there are no direct flights from Boston to Albuquerque. Apparently, there just aren’t, like there simply aren’t. All the flights seem to be two or more flights, and while that may be possible, the kicker is that most – by far most – all involve leaving the one aircraft and then getting onboard another one.

Here is my problem. As a frightened traveler, I don’t have confidence that if I get off of the first airliner that I will get on board the second one. It seems more likely I’ll be curled up in a fetal ball in some Texas airport lavatory sucking my thumb, than managing to get myself onto a second aircraft.

So really, my limit is finding a two-part flight that involves staying on the same plane. This may be possible, but it appears to be rare. Indeed, out of one sample day I typed in, out of about 78 flights only one had people remaining on the same plane, so “rare” is the correct word. And when they are so rare, chances are strong that they won’t be the cheapie flights – that one flight, which goes to Atlanta, Georgia first (odd) – is $377.

There are ones for almost half that available if I am willing to leave the one plane and then go to another. Maybe it isn’t so bad, as long as it is the same airline. If each airline just has one little auditorium sized room where all their planes touch noses, that wouldn’t be impossible. But that’s a level of uncertainty that the websites don’t say. They don’t show pictures, they don’t try to show you exactly what you will expect. For all I know I’d have to walk across a mile of corridor to find the next gate. And again, the concern that jelly can’t walk.

This makes me wonder whether I should re-consider the possibility of simply driving out there. True, it is a billion miles, and I have never driven on a highway in many, many years (more than ten), and even then I’d never driven anywhere further than say, a half hour away. I think the longest drive I ever did, aside from one time I got lost and wound up in Boston’s Chinatown, was driving from the suburbs to a Toys R Us at the Burlington Mall back when Playmates Toys was making Star Trek the Next Generation action figures, and that was the nearest mall I knew of at the time (this must have been the 1980s) was half hour down a highway. And even then I didn’t really use the highway, I used the local roads that ran sort of parallel to the highway.

I stopped using the highway, incidentally, because I don’t like the way you can’t turn left or right when you want to. You’re forced to stay in a straight line until there is an exit. For someone like me, who has issues about loss of control, that’s a very unfriendly environment.

What this means is, if I were to drive, this would be a new experience for me. It’s been more than ten or fifteen years so maybe I could do it and do it in an entirely new way, with no worries. That could happen, for all I know.

On the plus side, no changing flights. I could pull over and puke any time I wanted to, and chances are I wouldn’t need to. I would however have to deal with hotels, which I do not do. Hotels smell like chemicals. It’s hard to explain, but hotels feel lifeless. Disconcerting. I’d rather sleep in my car, but of course that isn’t really possible or legal. Even if it were legal, chances are I’d be shot while sleeping and my car and posessions stolen.

Oh I don’t know. A few days of driving (mapquest says it takes about 38 hours to drive from Boston to Albuquerque, but that means nonstop. Realistically, that means…oh I don’t know, maybe most of a week. Say 5 days and nights. 5 hotels, say a hundred bucks a pop, it’s essentially half as expensive as flying (when one considers flying involves a $377 flight plus a thousand bucks plus to have one’s car shipped over, or about $1,500 total).

What I expect will happen is I will find a cheap flight that has one change (from one plane to another) on the same airline, with under an hour of waiting in between the two so I will not have enough time to panic and decide to wander away in the middle of hillbilly Texas. I say Texas because it seems most flights go from Boston to Houston. I don’t much like the idea of being in a redneck state even at an airport, but that’s probably irrelevant.

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