Normally I book tickets way out. Well, at least a number of weeks in advance. When I fly I am spending my own money and do not have a corporate expense account (good for you if you can fly and let someone else pay). The bottom line is I pay close attention to the price of any trip I take and that goes for when I am spending cash or spending points.
This past week I popped down for the grand opening of the new Delta B Sky Club. I had booked tickets a while back but due to a number of circumstances I had to cancel my original tickets and book, to me, almost last minute. Prices out of my home town airport of SBN (less than an hour from my home) were just crazy for ~2 hour CRJ200 ride down to ATL and back. It was the same when from many of my fall back airports. But Chicago was still totally reasonable (thank you competition). But there is always a cost going to Chicago as you can see from the 6AM traffic situation.
Now the reason I have, in the past, really liked Chicago ORD is: 1) The price. 2) Mostly mainline jet a.k.a. no CRJ200s. 3) As a Diamond I almost always upgrade. 4) They have a Sky Club. 5) There are many choices of flights.
On this trip, on my cheap coach fare, I did upgrade each way. But there was a cost to this little drive to the windy city. The traffic was horrible. I made it to Chicago in record time and then drove 5-15 miles per hour from the city out to the airport. There were no wrecks is was just idiots merging badly that slowed it all down to a crawl. It took so long I almost missed my flight and it would have been the first time I had ever done this (due to my fault that is). I have been very close once before, but this time I thought for sure I would not make it.
I ran / walked up to the gate as the 1st class boarding had begun. I did not have breakfast in the Sky Club as I had planned and I could not park at a discount lot as I did not have time to shuttle. So I paid the $17/ day “economy” parking to tram to terminal quickly.
My return was much delayed due to first a mechanical issue with my jet and then followed by hours of ATC delays (not Delta’s fault). That did give me some time to have a bite at THE CLUB at ATL.
As well as an overly sweet sparkling wine for dessert. But had I not chosen to fly into Chicago I would have likely been home much sooner as ground holds are much less common to any of my Midwest airports nearby.
And then we had the ride home. Yes, I was in first. But when we landed after the long ATC delays we took 45 minutes to taxi to our gate. Yes, driving around on the tarmac in ORD took almost as long as the flight itself from ATL to ORD. Ugg.
So while I did pay 1/3 the price for my ticket, once you add back in gas, tolls and parking it was more like 50% of the price.
I know time is money and, when things work well, it does not really take that much longer for me to pop over to Chicago. But when things go wrong no amount of money is worth the savings and I am feeling done with ORD. I guess I would love your feedback. Is it worth it to you to save big sums of money on airline tickets if it means driving to an airport an hour or two away from home? – René