When Sharon and I fly, we’re usually sitting somewhere in the back half of the airplane because I’m too cheap to pay for a better seat and we have no status to allow us to get the better seat assignments. There was the one exception this year when I paid way too many miles for a last-minute seat on a Delta flight and ended up getting upgraded to a Comfort Plus seat, but that was just a lucky break. However there was one flight this year where I knew we were going to get a better seat, unless it was taken away from us. The flight home from New York on the Monday after Thanksgiving on American Airlines.
Last December, when we were putting up Christmas decorations at the house, Sharon and I were talking about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Despite living in the area for most of our lives, I had never been to see the parade and Sharon last went to see it when she was three. We had a crazy idea that this would be the year we’d head to New York in November.
The first thing I needed to check was if I could get the time off of work over the holiday. Amazingly, space was there so I put in for the time off and it was quickly approved. Then it hit me. I’d need to make hotel and flight reservations during one of the busiest travel times of the year. The one thing working for me was that I had plenty of notice and I smartly took the Monday after the holiday off so we didn’t need to fly home on Sunday.
I’m always up for a challenge, so I started looking to see what was available (and for how much).
When you check in for a flight, either by printing a boarding pass on your computer or by using a mobile device, you’re provided with a boarding group. This lets you know when you’ll be getting on the plane. Getting group 3 on one airline might be great but could be terrible for another airline.
Regardless of that number, just know you’re not getting on the plane when the boarding process starts unless you’re a super elite frequent flyer or a disabled passenger in a wheelchair. The passengers with some sort of loyalty with the airline or one of their partners and the passengers who paid for first class will go next. Why not stay seated until your group (or at least the one right before it is called) cause you’re gonna have a long wait just to have your ticket scanned and all you’re going to is stand on the jet bridge for a while before getting on the plane.
Just be patient and don’t be like the people in this video from JetBlue
I think it’s time we realize there is no such thing as a low cost carrier/airline in the US anymore. The change happened so gradually it’s tough to tell when it actually happened, but make no mistake it did happen. Per Wikipedia, the term LCC originated within the airline industry referring to airlines with a lower operating cost structure than their competitors.
There used to be several low cost carriers. AirTran, People Express (Note from Sharon: Oh, how I LOVED People Express. They used to sell Rachel’s Brownies for 50c apiece and they were the best brownies I ever had!) and Midway Air all sprung up to compete against the major airlines and in response the airlines launched micro-brands like Song and TED. Over time these airlines either went out of business, have been re-absorbed into the parent company or were gobbled up by the larger airlines. The only two U.S.-based airlines left that originally fit into the LCC category are Southwest and JetBlue.
I swear, I think I must have an invisible sign over my head that says, “Attention American Airline employees: make sure her bag will fit in the overhead” that only turns visible in the presence of said American Airline employees. Because once again, I was stopped before boarding my flight by a surly faced woman in an American Airlines uniform, telling me that my bag was going to be too big to fit in the compartment above me. It never happens with Delta employees. Not Frontier ones, either. And not Southwest or JetBlue – and I’ve been on all those brands of planes since the last time this happened.
Anyway, if you’ve been read our blog long enough, or just surmised it from the previous paragraph, you’ll know that I’ve been down this road before and I know my bag will fit because I purposely bought a bag that airline crew members get, precisely because it always fits. Meanwhile, she started this challenge when I was working on 4.5 hours of sleep and my coffee hadn’t really kicked in yet, so my manners were pretty much out the window.