Travel Lessons

I've travelled a bit. Not as much as a lot of people, but more than most people I know. But I learned quite a bit on our recent family trip to New York City and northern New York state. Here's a few of the lessons I learned.

  • New York City isn't scary, even with kids.
    I had been leary of travelling to and around NYC (abbreviated for laziness, not coolness) but it's not bad at all. Even with the kids we got around everywhere we needed to go quickly and easily and with no hassles besides too much walking until we got the gumption to take the subways. We were in the Times Square / Theater District area which is very well lit and full of other people at all hours.

  • If anybody ever tells you to visit Newark, New Jersey you should immediately punch them in the head as hard as you can.
    I've never been to such a craphole of a city. Sorry if you live there but you should leave immediately. It's like a whole city made of those city blocks you see where the buildings are all shuttered and the billboards haven't been changed since they put up the 'Try New Coke!' signs. And as my brother-in-law put it, it's as if they designed the streets by sneezing on a piece of paper and connecting the dots. Bleh.

  • People suck, and they hate middle seats.
    Delta Airlines, in their infinite wisdom, decided to put me 20 rows away from Kim and the kids. I asked the woman with the seat that rightfully should have been mine next to my family if she'd mind switching and she said fine, until she learned that I had a middle seat. Then she refused. She couldn't have been more than 5 and a half feet tall and in no way needed more legroom than I do at 6 feet but as she explained to the flight attendent "I just don't want a middle seat" as if that was an explanation. So I switched and finally was able to move Kim and Allison's seats up to mine, tying up the whole plane just so that idiot wouldn't have to have a middle seat.

  • Rental car companies will screw you if you're prepared.
    If you make a car reservation ahead of time, the rental company charges you more than if you walk up and get a car with no reservation. And not a little more, a lot. Like almost 100% more. We had an ordeal with Avis about their not-written-down-anywhere policy of requiring a corporate ID if you use a corporate discount. We didn't have an id. Not that we forgot it, we were never given one. In the course of trying to get them to honor the discount, the lady said she'd just give us the walkup rate, which was almost 50% of the reserved rate. My brother-in-law and I were so taken aback by this we questioned her on it to the point where she probably would have liked to just kick us out and not rent the car to us. They basically figure that if you're consciencious you either really need the car for something specific or you're a corporation. In either case they feel perfectly alright with totally screwing you. If it was a little more to plan ahead, maybe I'd understand. If you do a walk-up rental, you're helping them out by renting a car they wouldn't have rented otherwise so they give a discount. But they take advantage of your need or corporate pocketbook to an absolutely absurd degree and all it does is make me want to find a way of putting in a reservation under one name, cancelling it the same day and walking in to rent the car under another name.

  • Southwest values old people and children. Delta Airlines values rich people and VIPs.
    I'm used to flying Southwest. Both because I'm cheap and because they do a heck of a job. There are reasons beyond price why Southwest is the only profitable carrier and has been profitable for literally years in a row while the others are in bankrupcy. When boarding starts for Southwest they let people with kids, the disabled, and the elderly get on first. Delta lets their VIPs on first, with first class next and everybody else afterward in some kind of seemingly random class system. Right there tells what each carrier's values are. If Southwest had assigned seating, I'd guess that based on the values I see, Southwest would not split up families on every leg of a flight. Delta knew we were all together and we had a baby but still, I got a seat on the other end of the plane despite buying our tickets fairly far in advance. And the attendents don't care even a little bit. I understand that not everybody can be in the seat they want but it's insane to put two parents with two small kids, one of whom isn't even 1 year old yet, in different seats. I'll never fly Delta again.


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