Cheapass airports drive me nuts

Aug 17 2007 Published by under Rant

I've only sampled a few outlets, so I can't say this definitively. However, the few electrical outlets I've sampled at the Nashville airport are not working.

I've read before at BoingBoing about Pay-per use electrical outlets at DFW.

I'm guessing (just guessing; again, I don't know, as I've only tested a few outlets) that some bean counter at BNA here pointed out "hey, we're spending $XXX on electricity every year for all those moochers in our airports charging up their laptops and cellphones while using the highly overpriced concourse Wireless they purchased and while waiting for all of their delayed planes! If we cut them off, we'll save this much money!"

Never mind that it's just one more data point in the increasingly large column I have that reads "drive whenever possible." I will definitely drive if any trip is under 6 hours, and almost certainly drive if the trip is under 8 hours. At 6 hours, you spend nearly as long waiting in airports and on the plane (about a 1-1.5 hour flight, probably) as you do driving, and you deal with all the aggravation of the War on Liquids and such, and there's a good chance you spend more time than you would have driving due to a delayed flight.

If the drive is 8 hours, I'm still very likely to drive rather than fly.

I'm wondering if I should make the cutoff 10 hours. Or, perhaps, anything that's less than a full day.

17 responses so far

  • Orac says:

    This is highly pertinent to me because my parents live about 10.5 hours away from where I live. My wife and I usually end up driving simply because we're usually going back around holidays and that way we can bring everything we need to bring. However, it's a long, painful drive. Flying is definitely usually easier for that distance.
    I'd tend to agree with a cut-off between 6-8 hours.

  • Paul Emmons says:

    Amen! However, once in awhile Americans still have another choice or two: Amtrak, Greyhound.
    At any rate, about twenty years ago, the opportunity knocked to move to an area in which I actually wanted to live, and I still like it here; so there's no need to travel very far very much. This is a relief, 'cuz the world seems to be getting bigger again.

  • Panya says:

    Paul: Sadly Amtrak + Nashville = NO.

  • Troublesome Frog says:

    I'll second Paul Emmons on this one (sort of). Amtrak is often a delightful way to travel, provided it's going where you're going and you don't care (at all) whether you arrive anywhere near the scheduled arrival time. Sadly, the way the track usage is structured, Amtrak makes the average airline look like as punctual as Old Faithful.

  • Eric Lund says:

    I also agree with a cutoff in the 6-8 hour range. I'm in New Hampshire. For anything this side of Philadelphia (about 7 hours), I'll drive (or use Amtrak--it's actually a viable option in the Northeast). If I'm going to Baltimore (about 9 hours driving), I'll fly (it helps that Southwest offers 11 daily flights on MHT-BWI). The only reason I ever fly from here to New York or Philadelphia is to change planes.
    Unfortunately, most of my relatives are on the west coast, so driving to visit Mom is not a practical option.

  • mollishka says:

    I've recently decided to drive whenever I visit my parents, who live about nine hours away. Spending an entire birthday on the tarmac in Detroit followed by a canceled flight and a rented car can do that.
    I don't know about the west coast, but east of the Mississipi, Amtrak is only good for travel between Boston and Washington, D.C. Anywhere else is painful, slow, takes longer than driving, and just about as expensive as flying.

  • mollishka says:

    Oh, and: yet another reason to go to Columbus! The CMH airport has free wireless, as well as working outlets, often next to nice tables with nice chairs.
    Of course, this comment has been held due to its malicious nature.

  • Brian says:

    Then drive. Nobody's forcing you to take a plane, but I'm guessing that you will still do so, because it is more convenient than the alternatives.
    I don't remember the last blog entry of yours I read where you weren't whining about something.

  • David Harmon says:

    Bruce Schneier has a lengthy interview with Kip Hawley, the head of the TSA. He actually starts off the interview by asking: "Can you please convince me there's not an Office for Annoying Air Travelers making this sort of stuff up?" The guy takes it pretty well....
    http://www.schneier.com/interview-hawley.html

  • writerdd says:

    I drive anything that's less than a full day. If I'm staying at the destination for a week or more, I'll spend one night each way in transit as well. I hate airports. I wish there was another way to get to Europe from the US. Boats take too long and are too expensive.

  • Harv says:

    wow, 9 hours is a short drive. My husband and I have our cut-off at 14 hours.
    My parents would drive 4 kids in a station wagon 14 hours one way to my grandparents in TN. Lots of good memories of those drives. 🙂

  • Rob Knop says:

    The point about being able to bring all your stuff is an important one. My wife and I have a couple of times done a day-and-a-half drive to visit her parents, for (a) the convenience of having a car when we're there (it's middle-of-nowhere Minnesota), and (b) to bring lots of stuff with us.
    I don't remember the last blog entry of yours I read where you weren't whining about something.
    Brian -- allow me to recommend, if it bugs you so much, that you stop reading my blog.
    -Rob

  • Melissa G says:

    My son wants to go to Branson. To see the Lawrence Welk Reunion Show. He is such a mutant.
    But yes, we will be making that nine hour drive instead of flying.

  • To me its about reducing wasted time, not total time. That and I just hate driving. Pre-9/11, my drive-time cutoff was 3 hours. It's maybe 4 now, but that's it. You couldn't get me to drive 9 hours at gunpoint.
    I don't care how inefficient an airport is, I can still occupy myself with a book, computer, or video game (at worst). So even if I spend more time flying than driving, I still don't waste as much time. When I drive, it's 100% time I'll never get back. And this from someone who once spent the most miserable day and a half of his life stuck in the Cairo airport, an olfactory nirvana if ever there was one, especially at 3 a.m.

  • Rob Knop says:

    Yeah, I appreciate the argument. But driving to me doesn't feel so much like wasted time. I realize this is entirely subjected "fooling myself," but sitting in a car making progress down the road just feels more productive than sitting in an airport terminal idling. And, yeah, I'm on the net in an airport terminal right now, and I read books, and all of that.
    The other problem is my overdeveloped sense of personal space.... Airplane coach class is deeply uncomfortable for me, not so much because of the cramped conditions (although that's part of it), but because if there isn't an empty seat next to me (which there usually isn't), I just feel too constrained. Car seats are more comfortable (unless I'm stuck in a back seat with two other people!).
    Also, for long car rides, I listen to books on tape and books on CD. I discovered that back in grad school; the mind-numbing drive on I-5 between the Bay Area and LA was made bearable via books on tape. As noted above, one can more easily haul more stuff (including 5oz liquid bottles!) in a car, and there's a *lot* less hassle and standing in line.
    Plus, it's probably cheaper.
    My cutoff is definitely no less than 6, and probably no less than 8 hours, in all but the most exceptional of circumstances.
    The other thing to take into account is the difficulty and expense of parking on the other end, of course.
    -Rob

  • Lum says:

    Yes and yes and yes. I'm a middle-aged Caucasian female, and I look it. Since 9/11, I've made about 30 flights. I'm not a frequent flyer--3 or 4 per year--and I've been pulled out of line and searched 11 times, including the security dweebs at Midway wanting to disembowel a collectors item puppet (that I wanted to carry on) because it "had metal in it." I've been held over at DFW overnight three times and in Atlanta twice. My flights have been punctual four times since I started keeping track in 1999. My luggage has been lost twice. We've joked about my bad travel juju, it's so awful.
    Just a couple of weeks ago, I drove from Jackson, MS, to Chicago, IL, because I couldn't take it anymore. It took me about 14 hours, but I stopped a lot, had a nice lunch, etc. It was worth the extra time I had to take. It was worth the gas. Totally worth it, so, if a trip will take me two days to drive, I'll fly.

  • "If the drive is 8 hours, I'm still very likely to drive rather than fly."
    This is the wonderful thing about a free-market economy. You drive instead of flying b/c you do not like the situation at the airport. Demand for the airline product goes down, so they are forced to make their product more attractive (thru price cuts or better service) to avoid a decreased profit. Perfect. Free-market economics prevails again.