Sunday, November 21, 2010

A holiday tradition: My 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 -- and with a few additions -- are some travel tips. I'll be flying to New York on Tuesday so next year I should have five or ten more tips learned the hard way. 

Leave for the airport NOW. Don't wait until the day of.

Bring no luggage. Wearing the same clothes for a week is a small price to pay. Plus, the airlines now charge you for check-in luggage AND blankets. Pretty soon pressurized air will also be extra.

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. Even in the last row.

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: Sirius/XM satellite radio. You can hear Jimmy Buffet on fifty different channels.

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 JBucks.

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

Before you fly to New York and have to negotiate JFK just remember – the parade is on TV. And it’s the same friggin' balloons as last year. The only difference is that the stars of NBC’s big new hit from last year, KATH & KIM, 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.


Cindy said...

A few good nuggets there... Especially avoid Chicago! My kid has an earache, everyone is coming to me and I've already got Planes, Trains and Automobiles queued up for Wednesday night. Hope everyone's holiday is enjoyable.

Ian said...

"Alibiography" = instant classic. Just watch Sarah Palin refutiate that....

lucifervandross said...

I sincerely tend to get sick every year around this time. I have missed so many thanks giving meals, but oddly enough, it's not one of my preferred holidays (though none of them are).

So even though I'm not going anywhere, thanks for the tips.

Nathan said...

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.

I've just had the same rental car for almost two months and the "change oil soon" light came on the day after I got it. What kind of schmuck changes the oil in a rental car?

In my defense, I did check to see if there was enough oil in there at one point. There was plenty and it was (mostly) the color you'd expect oil to be.

bevo said...

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

Why limit yourself to in-flight movies? Unless it is the entire DVD set of Ned and Stacy, never watch Debra Messing. The woman makes Tina Fey look funny by comparison.

Neither of these people could hold Carol Burnett's bra.

BigTed said...

Of course, airlines now charge up to $40 extra per leg for the privilege of sitting in an exit row.

They no longer care if you're able-bodied enough to help in an emergency, just that your credit card is in working order.

Cap'n Bob said...

Oddly enough, I did fly to New York at Thanksgiving around 1970. It was crowded as hell, of course, but I don't recall any special problems. For problems fly Alaska from San Jose or Continental from Chicago.

cbm said...

As a one-time frequent flyer, I agree with most of this list. The only thing I take issue with is Hertz. If you're a Hertz Gold Club member picking up a car is as simple as getting to the Hertz area, looking for your name on the board, walking to the indicated stall, getting in, and driving away. Somehow I'm still a Gold Club member, even though the company I was working for when I got it doesn't exist anymore. I can't believe that I just defended Hertz. What's the world coming to?

In the exit row, when asked the questions, I say something like "should we practice now?" It never fails to get a scowl.

YEKIMI said...

The only traveling I plan on doing is from my kitchen table to the couch to the bathroom and back again although the order may change sometimes.

chuckcd said...

Actually, I always watch the movie "Airplane!" when I am on the airplane, and I invite the person sitting next to me to watch also!

Grubber said...

Hi Ken,

I do enjoy your travel tips and a thought popped into my head. I would love to read your Thanksgiving Travel Tips for the year 2300.

I'm guessing since neither you or I will be around (Tallulah Moorehead will be as she's ageless) I was hoping you might be able to use your writerly powers and foresee some tips?


The Whistler said...

Actually, the best movie to watch on an airplane is "The High and the Mighty". John Wayne flying an airplane? That's scary in itself.

John said...

Ken, the airports have figured out the sneaky get-drunk-and-avoid-the-$5-to-$10-in-flight-charges, especially the chain restaurants on-site. Food's about the same price as at the regular chain locations. Drinks? About the same price as the lower grandstand level at Yankee Stadium, minus the ability to boo A-Rod live.

Also, flying into JFK, you can save about $45 on the trip into Manhattan by taking the Airtrain to Jamaica and then the LIRR or the subway to midtown (hey, if I'm cheap enough to fly Southwest, I'm, cheap enough to know about this). Not recommended for people either taking anything more than a three-day luggage bag or anyone arriving in New York during rush hour (where luggage carried onto the E train would suffer roughly the same indignities as Groucho's trunk in the stateroom scene from "A Night at the Opera")

Anonymous said...

Oh, John - how many times I've done the AirTrain to subway to midtown whilst shlepping 3 huge bags and then forgetting that my BFFs subway stop doesn't have elevators? Too many. So many I may be an idiot but I blame red eyes.

Ken - I always love these. Too funny.

Danielle Solzman said...

I'm trying to forget that Kath and Kim was eever on the air!

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Paul Duca said...

I happened to watch something on TV on the history of Thanksgiving, and it said the day before Turkey Day is NOT the busiest time of the year for air travel...not even in the top 25. #1 varies, but it's always a Friday in June, July or August.

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