A review of travel
At this point in my life I feel like I’ve traveled quite a bit – domestic and international, alone and with 1, 2, and 3 kids (with and wo husband) and a variety of different scenarios in general. All that said I think I have a fair expectation of what is normal, good, and bad in travel and yesterday I ran through a freak streak of ‘great’ on multiple spots.
First a rewind to the first day there. Our plan was to rent a midsize sedan so the 3 kids could fit in the back seat figuring we were never going more then 5 miles around town and if we did go further my sister had a minivan and one of ours could hop in with her. When I got to the rental place they had no cars….. um… that is your WHOLE JOB? I was not impressed. I was also polite and it paid off because they did have a mini van just in and clean and would I be willing to take that? Oh… I suppose… at the same rate of course. So I got a very nice upgrade for the inconvenience. I call that a win in travel land and I also secured that we could return it at a different airport – double win. However the REALLY IMPRESSIVE part was upon returning our rental car to the depot at JFK we pull into the return lanes and I get out to flag down the man to ask if it is a shuttle or a tram to the airport (makes a difference in how we handle the stroller) and he took one look in the car and said “Miss, we are just going to drive you over, get on back in”. They checked us in, gave us a receipt, and then I got in the back and we were chauffeured over to our terminal by the rental agent. I kinda felt like I should hug him because you hug the person who drops you off at the door. We decided on a $10 tip in lieu of hug. So I must notably note that in my 15 years of adult travel this was the absolute best surprise service I have ever encountered. Kudos to Hertz at JFK. That ride saved us probably 30min at least.
The next notable comparison is between Delta and SunCountry. I’ve flown both a few times in the past 6 months and while Delta has the name, SunCountry has a better handle on service. Last trip with Fiona I nearly missed the flight even though I was 2 hours early because of the epic and ever present line at the Delta counter. SunCountry is in the “General middle east/Indian” area of the terminal (Egyptair, Elal, Emirates, Kuwait Air, Air india, Pakistan international etc) area so there is 99% more security but also it is incredibly efficient and made to move a ton of people quickly. This is a big deal, the other side of the Delta terminal on Delta they have their ‘own’ security but it is only 3 machines, maybe 4 and the Middle East section has like 50. On top of there being so many lanes we get tapped for pre check and that makes it even more fast. We were in and out in under 5 min on the security lines. SunCountry also ‘gate’ checked our carryon’s right there so we had just our back packs. I’ve asked to check our carry on bags at every agent desk for years and this is the first time they did it and they actually even offered!
So between little to no traffic, the ride from the rental, the speed of check in lines and security we were at our gate 2 hours early…. That has its pro’s and cons but I really don’t like stress rushing with 3 kids so I’ll take it. We brought subway since we know the kids eat it and had a nice dinner at the gate in the big chairs with the charging spots.
The flight itself was fine, take off and landing on time and even a tad early. The guy in front of us had serious issues like he was a junkie coming down from something but harmless overall. Lars and I discussed the merits of this very late flight (9pm take off) and I’m not sure we would seek it out again because the kids didn’t sleep but they were decent on the plane but at the end of the rope at midnight when we landed… There is no decompression time with this because we were all up and at it this morning with school and work and grocery etc. There is no perfect flight I don’t think but this particular travel experience had some very very nice perks and for that I am happy with the the choices we made.