Thursday, July 31, 2014

Why I Like to Travel by Car

Due to the size of our family, we normally drive everywhere on vacation.  I like being able to leave when we are ready, stop for food and bathroom breaks when necessary and get out and walk around when we are tired of sitting.

Madelyn's cheer team qualified for National Competition this year.  The competition took place in Las Vegas, about 1700 miles from where we live.  Mike needed to stay at home and install siding and Las Vegas isn't where I would want to take a family vacation, so we decided that I would fly out with Madelyn.  Katie decided to pay for her own ticket and came with us.

We purchased a package that included round trip air fare, car rental and hotel.  Travelocity was the company that we booked through in February.  Everything was paid for when we booked.  Mike didn't want to deal with Chicago traffic, so we left from a small local airport.  The original trip had a two hour lay over in Chicago.  Several months after booking, we learned that our second flight (that included dinner) had been changed and we now had a 4 hour lay over.  We were not informed that the new flight did not include food.

Madelyn, Katie, and I dragged our luggage (my wrist is healing, but I still have a 5# weight limit for lifting) from one side of the airport to the other.  By the time we reached the correct terminal, I was exhausted and my hand and wrist throbbed.  After paying over $10 for 24 Tylenol and $3 for a small bottle of water, we eventually managed to get seats in our area.  The flight was delayed.  Then the flight terminal was changed, so we dragged the luggage to the new terminal.  The United Airlines personal were friendly and helpful, but the lay overs seemed to be due to poor scheduling of planes and pilots. 

We managed to snag seats and waited, and waited, and waited,  Six and a half hours later we boarded the plane.  The flight was bumpy and dinner wasn't served.  We were given the option of purchasing 3 small slices of cheese and a few crackers for $8.  We passed on the crackers.  The flight had to circle Las Vegas airport for about half an hour before landing.  We were all tired and exhausted.  It was after midnight in Vegas and after 2 a.m. where we live.

The airplane landed in a terminal that required us to load a tram and ride to the main airport.  Then we stood in line for 20 minutes to catch a bus to the rental car area.  After dragging our luggage to the car rental place, we learned that the car that I paid for in February was not available.  They would not return my money because it was booked through Travelocity.  We left the Hertz dealer after a few choice words and waited in line at Budget.  Budget had no cars.  The other rental places were turning away people, except for Enterprise. 

I approached the counter and learned that one car was available.  The service rep. scanned my license and credit card, then told me that the car would cost $1600 for 5 days. I reeled in shock and asked about shorter rentals.   $700 for 2 days.  The rep asked where we were staying and produced a map.  I needed a car.  We were too far to walk or take a bus.  In desperation, I asked if they knew who much taxi fare would be approximately.  The service representative guessed about $80.

We left Enterprise and walked to the taxi stand.  The ride cost $50.  I called the main office for Hertz after we reached the hotel.  They could not help me because it was booked through Travelocity. They suggested that I call the manager.

In the morning at 6:00 a.m., I called the manager.  The call went to voice mail.  I left a message for the manager to call.  After waiting 2 hours, I called another taxi and we returned to the rental office.  The lines were huge.  Eventually, I was waited on and received an upgrade to a larger car, but wasn't refunded my one day's rental fee. 

By this time, we were starved.  We had planned to grab some food on our way to the hotel, but I was afraid of racking up a huge taxi fee, so we skipped dinner and breakfast. So 26 hours after we left, we were finally able to eat something.

Our return trip was much better, but didn't change my mind about air travel.  I would rather drive for 4 days than take a plane. 

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