Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving travel tips

The Thanksgiving holiday is the peak travel weekend of the year (in America. The rest of the world could give a rat’s ass about Thanksgiving.) So as a public service, here again are some travel tips:
Leave for the airport NOW. Especially if your flight is on Wednesday.

Bring no luggage. Wearing the same clothes for a week is a small price to pay.

Southwest has no reserved seating. Get in one of the latter groups boarding. You don’t want to be one of the first to sit then watch as fifty people glance at the empty seat next to you, then to you, and decide to sit somewhere else.

If you have children under the age of five tell your relatives one has an ear ache and make everyone come to YOU.

Those people in the Stand-By line – those are the same people who think they can get rich selling Amway products, and the Tooth Fairy really exists. Don’t fly Stand-By unless you like sleeping in airport terminals for five days.

If you rent from Hertz plan on a two hour wait just to get your car. Unless you’re one of their “preferred” customers in which case allow only one hour.

When rental car companies recommend you use premium gasoline put in regular. It’s cheaper, it’ll run just fine, and it’s not your car.

Before you pull off the road to a Chuck E. Cheese for lunch, remember their namesake is a rat.

Three words of advice if you’re driving a long distance: XM satellite radio. Especially if you’re crossing Texas and want to listen to Air America.

Air travelers: avoid O’Hare. Better to land in Dallas, even if your destination is Chicago.

If you’re dropping someone off at the airport don’t even think you’ll be able to stop. Have your travelers practice the tuck and roll from a moving car. The first couple of times they’ll bounce but by the fourth or fifth try they should have it down.

Watch the DVD of HOSTEL on your laptop. The bigger the screen, the better.

There’s more legroom in Exit rows. When the flight attendants ask if you are willing to help out in case of emergency just say yes. Like it’s going to make a big difference anyway if you crash.

There are NO bargains in the Sky Mall magazine.

When you’re stuck in St. Louis and all flights are grounded (and trust me, you WILL be), grab lunch at Mike Shannon’s.

If you’re flying on an airline that doesn’t have reserved seating never sit next to anyone whose already eating or reading Ann Coulter.

Before you fly to New York and have to negotiate JFK just remember – the parade is on TV. And it’s the same balloons as last year. The only difference is that the stars of NBC’s big new hit from last year, THANK GOD YOU'RE HERE won’t be there (thank God).

Never pay to see an in-flight movie starring Debra Messing.

Put a big strip of duct tape on your luggage so you’ll recognize it easily. And it makes a nice fashion statement.

If you’re flying with small children see if there’s such a thing as “Flintstones Valium”.

In-flight alcoholic beverages are expensive. Better to drink heavily at the airport before boarding.

And finally, watch PLANES, TRAINS, & AUTOMOBILES again and think of it as a “best” case scenario.

Happy trails to you all.

22 comments:

jbryant said...

Damn, what are those Flintstones vitamins made of -- ground beef?

I haven't flown in a couple of years -- are they still confiscating nail clippers, cuticle cutters, nose hair trimmers and the like? I never quite understood that. I can carry on a ballpoint pen, with which I can put out a flight attendant's eye if I want, but I have to hand over the nail clippers?

John said...

You also might want to pray for a newer 737 in the Southwest fleet, or don't plan to eat anything over Thanksgiving for the trip back, since the three-across seats in the older jets are designed to fit Amy Winehouse (post-addiction), Nicole Richie (pre-pregnancy), and Ann Coulter (pre- or post-gender reassignment). And if you are taking Southwest, it does allow you to go through Dallas Love and avoid D-FW, where the dash for a plane change can at times be roughly equivalent in distance to traversing the state of Deleware (you haven't lived until you've been on the stupid D-FW tram when the car doors don't line up right with the platform doors at your terminal station, forcing you to make another half-trip around the airport or a slog with luggage back from the next stop).

And as for JFK, travel light, so you can get your lone carry-on bag on the AirTrain to Jamaica and then on the LIRR or the E train to Manhattan. Still a pain in the tail section, but nothing compared to the ride up the Van Wyck during rush hour (5 a.m. to midnight).

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping my dental surgery on Monday develops complications so that I can avoid flying with the family to St. Louis to see old relatives. Pray for me.

Will Teullive said...

If you board and the flight attendant appears to be over seventy years-old, ask to see the pilot. If the pilot appears to be under twenty-five get yourself off the plane ASAP.

Veggie Gal said...

Funny post, funny comments. Nice work, everyone. Happy travels!

Zach said...

I'd sit next to someone eating Ann Coulter.

Christina said...

I always buy a Star or National Enquirer to read in snob class (biz class) - no one talks to me that way. Works like a charm. Try it sometime. It might not work in coach, or on Southwest. On Southwest, I skip the earphones attached the iPod and go straight for the ear muffs.

This is the punchline - I'm not even that good looking!

RAC said...

My only advice is to "flirt politely" with the good looking flight attendant in the front of the plane when boarding - I've been bumped into first class, given free drinks, and had two dates for three years straight. (It would have been three dates, but one of the flight attendants was male and I don't fly that way - no matter how many drinks he plied me with or how much he began to resemble Cameron Diaz. Cute dimples, though...)

The Book of Don said...

and if you're coming in from overseas remember never to stand behind either a Rastafarian or someone of swarthy complexion in the immigration line.

Anonymous said...

I like the duct tape suggestion. In the 80's, I'd put radio station bumper stickers on my suitcase to easily recognize it.

The Minstrel Boy said...

ahh, ken, as a musician i have been on my share of flights. on southwest (chosen because of their stellar on time record) allow me to impart one of my favorite little tricks. board early and put a book or some other small item in the seat next to you. when the beautiful girl, traveling alone is searching for a place to sit, simply pick up the item. 8 out of 10 times she will sit right there. really.

NYLouOC said...

THE best place to fly out of on the night before turkey day is Las Vegas. Seriously. Flew home out of there last year, and McCarren was emptier than most writers rooms are today. The TSA people were actually HAPPY to see someone.

Here's a trick if you do NOT want a specific bag to have a TSA love note in it: I have two TSA approved locks, one with the little dot that changes from green to red when they open it, and one that does not - CONSISTENTLY the one bag that has the alert button never gets searched, while the one that does not have this feature almost ALWAYS does - I learned this from someone who likes to carry small amounts of certain substances with him when traveling.

Use an unusual bag, if you can. I am a softball umpire, and I use my gear bag as luggage - its durable, a snap to find on the carousel, as it sticks out like a sore thumb from the 5 million Samsonite/American Tourister lookalikes.

If you know someone that has an old safety vest, tear that up into strips, and wrap a piece around the handle - its bigger than a ribbon, and is instantly visible.

I try and fly Continental whenever I can - it may be a couple of more bucks, but they feed you, and the crews are pros and non bitter.

Another tip is to go to FlightAware.com to get a handle on the REAL record of your flight's on time performance. The discussion forums are also a good place to ask questions that a pro might answer in a straight forward manner.

Stoic said...

"...You don’t want to be one of the first to sit then watch as fifty people glance at the empty seat next to you, then to you, and decide to sit somewhere else."

What do you mean? I look for rows were someone is sitting in the window seat, take the aisle seat and puff my self up and lean into the middle seat to discourage people from sitting next to me. It helps when you scowl, too.

Mike McCann said...

A couple of rebuttals here...

>>If you rent from Hertz plan on a two hour wait just to get your car. Unless you’re one of their “preferred” customers in which case allow only one hour.>>

In 25 years of renting cars, usually from airports in Florida, I always go with Avis. Prompt, cooperative and generally happy counter staff. And their GM cars all come with XM. Rarely does it take more than 15 minutes from when I get on their bus to when I'm driving away in my rental.

>>When you’re stuck in St. Louis and all flights are grounded (and trust me, you WILL be), grab lunch at Mike Shannon’s.>>

KEN... of all people... you should have remembered that Lambert Field is the home of the first airport-located CHEERS bar (the one with the mechanical Norm and Cliff).

MM

Ken Levine said...

The CHEERS in-airport bars are yet another way Paramount makes money and writers do not, so still... go to Mike Shannon's.

Jake Hollywood said...

Or I have my staff pack everything I need, have them lug it out to my private helicopter, climb on board and fly from my Malibu beach house to a waiting jet (which has patiently waited for me as I took my sweeting time getting there) and a seat in first class. Then I'll fly to Lake Como (or some such place), relax in my private estate and enjoy the holiday season with family and friends.

Ummmmmm...

Wait a minute.

I can't do any of that stuff, I'm just some schmuck with an Underwood.

What the hell was I thinking?

Oh, well. It's back to the picket line for me.

Geoduck said...

I look for rows were someone is sitting in the window seat, take the aisle seat and puff my self up and lean into the middle seat to discourage people from sitting next to me. It helps when you scowl, too.

There's a simpler method. Dangle a piece of string from your lips and smile. If by some chance a good potential seatmate comes along, you can just suck it in..

Scott said...

forget the duct tape. the best thing is bright flourescent hot pink plastic threading. it can be seen from miles and no one wants to take it.

Mary Stella said...

Before you pull off the road to a Chuck E. Cheese for lunch, remember their namesake is a rat.

What adults in their right minds would ever voluntarily go to a Chuck E. Cheese for lunch? Nobody over the age of 12 ever really wants to go to the Cheese. The rest of us are forced to when it's the only place that the 5 year old wants for his/her birthday party.

In my case, it was an 18 month-old's belated one year birthday party. Like the toddler is ever going to remember this party. She suffered sensory overload the entire time. Nothing like a poufy pink party dress smeared with cake icing, cardboard and glitter tiara, and a dazed, shell-shocked expression to say, "My birffday."

timmie said...

"Bring" no luggage? Shouldn't that be "take" no luggage? Geez, Ken, you're a writer. Get your grammar on...

jim treacher said...

Isn't driving through Texas punishment enough already? Air America on top of it, sheer masochism.

Anonymous said...

Boy I tell ya the writers get no respect.... especially the ones who make up the exit strategies on the evacuation cards in the seat pocket... and what about residuals when a plane goes down? Oh I tell ya, there is just no justice! The good news is that once in a while, you just might get lucky and find a half eaten sandwich in the seat pocket if you are still hungry. And the kids... oh boy, kicking my seat all the way home... why I told the kid to knock it off, and he told me his dad didn't like me either, and was actually the one doing it.. oh geez! Then there was that time this lady came and asked me if I wanted to join the mile high club with her.. ho I tell ya I told her ,"ma'am, you look just like my wife, and she slaps me and says "yeah, well who do you think paid me to come over here?" Man I tell ya... its rough out there...!

Best wishes Ken, Gary Betcher