Run… or Wait Forever?

Most of the past week I spent at the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, New York, not only attending panels, but also meeting with my editors, and my publisher, as well as being a panelist and giving a reading. It’s also one of the few times in the year when I can meet with other professionals in the field, given that my home town has exactly one other professional in the field, and she’s an artist who specializes in dragons, something that hasn’t exactly been a staple in in my fantasy. It’s also why there wasn’t a post last Friday.

More and more, however, I get tired of the same pattern in air travel. While occasionally I do get decent flight connections, more often than not, my connections fall into one of two patterns. Either I have to almost run, if not sprint, to make them, or I spend hours waiting for the next flight. On the flight out from Cedar City, a half hour before the flight was due to take off, the temperature dropped below freezing, and it started to snow. The plane was already a few minutes behind schedule, but when the de-icing time was added, when we reached Salt Lake, the airline was already boarding my flight to Detroit – two concourses away. I hurried and made it, but it wouldn’t even have been a problem if the scheduled time between flights had been even fifty minutes, rather than thirty five. Then when I got to Detroit, I had a four hour layover before the flight to Albany took off. I finally arrived in Saratoga Springs at 11:15 p.m.

On the return leg, my flight from Albany was delayed, and the gate agents told me I’d likely miss the flight from Detroit to Salt Lake. The pilot and ground crew made heroic efforts, and once more a great deal of hustle sufficed to get me aboard with even a few minutes to spare… so that I could wait for almost three hours in Salt Lake for my last flight home.

Now… these connections weren’t made in search of the least expensive fares. They were the only connections possible that would get me from Cedar City to Albany in one day, one very long day. I realize that creating airline schedules is a near-impossibility, but…

I really am getting tired of either worrying about whether I’ll make connections [because a few times I haven’t] or spending endless hours waiting, all of which are reasons why I don’t travel as much as I once did.

4 thoughts on “Run… or Wait Forever?”

  1. steve says:

    Your comments remind me of Louis CK 2012 comedy tour when he said, “Here’s the thing, people say there are delays on flights. Delays, really? New York to California in 5 hours. That used to take 30 years. And a bunch of you would die on the way there. And have a baby. You’d be a whole different group of people by the time you got there. Now you watch a movie and you take a $#@! and you’re home.” I just watched it again and laughed and laughed.

  2. Robert The Addled says:

    A recent travel spot on CBS 880 (an AM station out of NYC) indicated that various airports have minimum connection times that are supposed to be followed, and often with a DIFFERENT time for your luggage to make the connection. Oh – and by the way – the time to ensure the luggage connector for London (an example in the news clip) is half an hour longer than the time to make your flight.

    The last few times I’ve flown, the ENJOYABLE trips were the ones with ridiculous layovers (2-4 hours) in a major hub (such as Chicago).

    Every trip without long layovers has had random cancellations, gates that change twice while running to connect, and missing luggage (which REALLY matters when catching a 2 week cruise….).

  3. D Archerd says:

    While sympathetic to your travel problems, they are somewhat self-inflicted inasmuch as you choose to live in Cedar City, UT, a lovely town in a spectacularly beautiful part of the country, but also fairly isolated and with no good airline connections to anywhere except Salt Lake City. What they say about commuting (“The farther you live from your job, the more you’d better love either your home or your job.”) applies similarly to the tradeoffs one makes in choosing where to live. If airline travel is odious, one can always minimize the hassle by residing in a major airline hub city like Chicago or Houston, but that’s another set of trade-offs, isn’t it?

    For my part, I love long airport layovers. They constitute one of the few times I can enjoy complete “down time” with nothing to do but have a drink or two and read a book.

    1. You’re right on two out of three counts. You’re wrong on the other. We didn’t exactly make a completely free choice of Cedar City. It was driven by occupational necessity. There have only been a handful of jobs for lyric sopranos who are opera directors over the past 20 years — anywhere! And since my wife’s previous university cut all full-time non-tenure track jobs right after we got married, and that included my wife’s position, and since writers are portable… we’re in Cedar City.

      As I’ve noted often before, not all choices are as “free” as they seem. At that time, I wasn’t well known or best-selling, and we needed two incomes. Going quickly broke in New Hampshire wasn’t a responsible choice.

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