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View Full Version : Now that I have retired would like to travel to a southern state to visit a friend......



MaggieSue
January 2nd, 2018, 12:57 PM
I have not been on an airplane in more than ten years. I need advice. What is your favorite air line. I will be traveling alone. Have many apprehensions but if I am ever going to do this now is the time. Please share your wisdom on traveling alone by plane. My first biggest concern is flying out of a major airport so I will not have to change flights. I will need someone to take me there, that I think I can do. Otherwise flying out of a smaller airport will require changing flights at a larger airport. Prefer not to do that. Please share.

auntstuff
January 2nd, 2018, 01:26 PM
If you have to change flights at a large airport, you can arrange in advance for an escort to get you through it.

Kgrammiecaz
January 2nd, 2018, 01:29 PM
I love Southwest, I fly alone more often than with someone. I have used Uber services to get to the airport and back home when my girls are not available. I hate changing planes, but have done it. It is not too bad if you have plenty of time between flights. But I do look for the non stops whenever possible.

Judy, USMC
January 2nd, 2018, 01:35 PM
Have many apprehensions ... flying out of a smaller airport will require changing flights at a larger airport. Prefer not to do that. Please share.

If you prefer not to change flights then fly out of the major airport. This, IMO, will probably lessen the apprehensions you already have. I've been driving to most of my destinations but when I flew it was always Southwest in the continental US. It is no frills but I've never had a bad experience ... and the fare was usually lower. Safe travel and enjoy your trip!

Debbie Watters
January 2nd, 2018, 01:40 PM
I have only flown a couple of times alone and have taken Southwest. Like Judy, USMC, stated, it is a no frills and usually lower fares airlines. I also have not had any bad experiences. Good luck and have a great visit with your friends!

Mom23
January 2nd, 2018, 01:50 PM
I try to fly Southwest. There are no assigned seats but I'm ok with that. Also, one large bag flies free, in addition to the small bag you can place in the overhead compartment. You can also have a small bag that will fit under the seat in front of you. I try to use packing cubes so I only have to take a carry on bag. I've packed for a week using packing cubes and it worked great. To calm your nerves try to get to the airport very early. I don't like to get in a long line and fret over making my flight. If I am alone I get to the airport three hours in advance. I don't mind sitting at the terminal and watching people. It's also a good time to get a good walk in before a flight.

I have found most people are more than willing to help with any questions you might have. If you are extremely worried you might want to talk to the people at flight checkin. They might let you pre-board before anyone else so you can get on board and settled before others board.

Good luck to you.

Squeaky
January 2nd, 2018, 01:55 PM
Everyone that travels alone had to do it their first time once. I've found that people in airports (other than the ones running or otherwise looking frazzled) tend to be kind and friendly and willing to help out.

Before you fly - Read what you can about TSA rules for packing your carry-on and/or checked luggage, restrictions, bag size/weight. Find an online map of the airport and see if you can locate your terminal, the restrooms, the gate areas, and the food areas if you need them. Check in for the flight as early as possible, and have your email address and phone number associated with your ticket so you can get updates.

When it's time to fly - Leave for and get to the airport early. Pack a lot of patience. Be prepared to ask for help from uniformed agents (of any airline, TSA, or Police). Have a pen and paper on your person in case you need to make notes after you've asked for help. When in doubt, ask again - nothing wrong with making sure you're in the right area or following the boarding procedures properly.

Most of all - ENJOY the voyage as much as the destination(s)! Kids are a wonder of excitement when they travel, but we somehow lose that along the way. Let this new thing be a fun thing and it'll be something you'll look forward to doing over and over again.

LauraP
January 2nd, 2018, 02:34 PM
Is taking Amtrak an option? The majority of my family use it to travel since we are at a place in our lives when we don't have to hurry. Being able to get up and walk from car to car is much easier on the body than just sitting and it's so nice to be able to watch the scenery and animals. We enjoy making the travel as much a part of the experience as the visiting.

Astatoo
January 2nd, 2018, 02:42 PM
If you have to change flights at a large airport, you can arrange in advance for an escort to get you through it.

I did this on my last trip since I am visually impaired and it worked great until I got to Atlanta, then I was just pointed in the right direction and told to follow the signs, not so easy when I couldn't see the signs, they were placed so high they were not visible, had to go a long way to catch next flight, thank goodness an elderly couple noticed my state of confusion and helped me. Good news was when I finally got to my gate, and checked in they felt sorry for me and up=graded to first class.

laura44
January 2nd, 2018, 03:07 PM
Southwest has always been good for me, also Virgin airlines.

azmotogirl
January 2nd, 2018, 03:19 PM
Where are you flying to/from? Maybe a friend can escort you on your trip....... I used to work for Southwest and my husband still does. If you have any friends with flight privileges they may be able to travel with you.....

chelea
January 2nd, 2018, 04:02 PM
My 2 favorite airlines are JetBlue and Southwest.
Southwest's boarding procedures are a little confusing but the gate agent will explain. With Southwest, you also need to remember to check-in online 24 hours before you fly to obtain a boarding position. The importance of being able to board early is the ability to secure space in an overhead compartment (and to sit together if you're traveling with someone). If you have a big carry-on and you're in the last group to board you stand a chance there will be no more overhead space available and the flight attendant will take your bag and gate-check it. If you're traveling alone and have a bag that will fit under your seat, none of that really matters. You can also pay $15 for early bird check-in where Southwest checks you in automatically 36 hours before the flight, so you're more apt to get a better seat and your choice of overhead space.

KarenC
January 2nd, 2018, 04:23 PM
While I see most responders favor Southwest, they are my least favorite. Why? Simply because I have to drive 1.5 hours to get to the airport. Many may not agree with me, because they have had some really bad news in 2017, but I prefer United. I am a low maintenance traveler using choosing my flights based on price and non-stop, if possible. United has a hub here in Houston, not far from my home, which gives me more choices. My least favorite is Spirit, because I feel they nickel and dime you with extra charges. So as you can see, choose the features most important to you first, and go from there. After your first flight, you will enjoy it more and be less fearful. Good luck and happy travels.

bubba
January 2nd, 2018, 04:57 PM
I prefer to fly Alaska Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines. I avoid Southwest at all cost, because if there were a crash, I would want them to know whose but was in the seats. I never, ever change my seats, except with MM. I've never been nervous about flying alone and have done it several times.

MaggieSue
January 2nd, 2018, 08:26 PM
Thank you all for the great advice!!! Makes me feel a little better hearing all of your good comments. Waiting to hear from my friend what dates will work for her and then I will book my flight. Does everyone book their flights on line and what app, or program do you use???

Claire Hallman
January 2nd, 2018, 08:56 PM
I often book online and only with the airline itself, not one of the wholesalers like Orbitz.

bubba
January 2nd, 2018, 10:28 PM
I book from wherever it is cheapest to do so. MM alerted me to a site I had not heard of before HIPMUNK.COM and they offer some pretty good deals.

Judy, USMC
January 2nd, 2018, 11:41 PM
With Southwest I always book direct. You have a guaranteed rate, a calendar that shows the rates on certain dates, the ability to change your flight on-line and if you want you can use the Special Offers tab to sign up to see what may be offered on limited dates.

Jean Sewing Machine
January 3rd, 2018, 12:09 AM
It all depends where you are flying from and going to. Southwest is great, but doesn't go everywhere. Think of where the airline you choose has its hub, that is probably where you will change planes. I love the Charolotte airport, there are comfy rocking chairs all over the terminal! Nice touch for weary travelers. Atlanta, home of Delta, is huge, but has an easy to use subway train to take you between terminals. I travel alone most of the time, it gets easier the more you do it.

dwil23
January 3rd, 2018, 04:05 AM
I also agree with Southwest. Just flew with them for the first time this summer and I love that not only do they have the best fares, but, they don't charge extra for your baggage the way other airlines do. I do not like to carry a lot of baggage with me and then heave it into the overhead bin, much easier to check it through. Which airport will you be flying into?

I would avoid Allegiant if at all possible, but they go to many destinations that others don't.

chelea
January 3rd, 2018, 01:30 PM
I book online with the airline. JetBlue and Southwest have very user-friendly websites. You could do it over the phone as well. Another consideration: if you book through a 3rd party and have an issue, it could be more difficult to rectify the problem vs. dealing with the airline directly.

grammaterry
January 3rd, 2018, 01:34 PM
I haven't flown for a while but it was usually alone. I hate traffic for driving around big airports. So I solved this problem by looking for an inexpensive hotel close to the airport that would allow me to leave my vehicle for the week I would be away and they would take me to the airport and come and get me. They usually didn't charge a fee for this service. I would tip the driver and quite frankly the hotel was less than the cost of airport parking. Once you are at the airport, the rest is a breeze.

MaggieSue
January 3rd, 2018, 05:41 PM
Grammaterry thank you for that, had not even given that any thought. That would take care of me having to find a ride and I could drive myself. Always good to be self sufficient!!! Great idea!!!

grammaterry
January 3rd, 2018, 06:27 PM
Oh you are so welcme. I have done this in Atlanta and Charlotte and it has taken so much stress off me. The hotels seem to be glad to get two nights stays, one coming one going, from me and I don't have the stress of trying to get to the airport and find parking and worry about being on time and walking my bag from the parking to the terminal.
Grammaterry thank you for that, had not even given that any thought. That would take care of me having to find a ride and I could drive myself. Always good to be self sufficient!!! Great idea!!!

MaggieSue
January 3rd, 2018, 07:09 PM
Grammaterry, I have been doing some on line research, trying to find a close hotel. Once I find one that is close I will call to see if that is possible. Thanks again!!!

jjkaiser
January 3rd, 2018, 10:34 PM
Carry on luggage has restrictions on how many ounces you are allowed to bring of hand and suntan lotion, shampoo, etc. If you are checking your luggage you can take full size bottles with no problem. Also don't be alarmed or overwhelmed when you arrive and get in line at the ticket counter. Every time I fly, even if I have a 6:00 a.m. flight I just cannot believe how crowded the airports are. It's like wall to wall people. When boarding, most airlines overbook and ask for volunteers to take a later flight in exchange for a free ticket. Don't be worried, this is routine, and you will still be allowed to board the plane. Bring something to eat. They will feed you, supposedly, but in my opinion a one ounce bag of peanuts or pretzels will only make you realize how hungry you are and remind you of how long it will probably be before your next meal. Have a safe trip and let us know how it goes.

snippet
January 3rd, 2018, 11:44 PM
I don't know where you are going, but consider taking a train. It's so much more relaxing than flying, but you'll need more time to travel. I really enjoy the train.

MaggieSue
January 4th, 2018, 10:11 PM
Here is an update, after much research the cost of driving to a hotel and parking there and leaving my car was almost as expensive as taking a more local flight to the larger airport. So I opted to take local to larger airport and vice versa. Took me quit a while to book my flight as I did not realize that they were offering two different larger airports on return flights and I did not have the filter checked that I only wanted the dates I selected and the date kept changing. Oh my!!! But mission accomplished. 6 weeks until my vacation!!!!
All of your support has been so helpful, thank you!

bubba
January 4th, 2018, 10:49 PM
So....where are you going??

MaggieSue
January 5th, 2018, 07:54 PM
I am going to Tampa, Florida by was of Minneapolis from Central Wisconsin. I am hoping for some sunshine, not much of that here and this below zero weather is getting old.

kaydee
January 5th, 2018, 11:15 PM
I am going to Tampa, Florida by was of Minneapolis from Central Wisconsin. I am hoping for some sunshine, not much of that here and this below zero weather is getting old.

Delta? We fly Delta most often and are happy with it. If you have a long layover here in Minneapolis, you will find plenty of shopping, dining, and seating available at MSP. I like our airport. One of my favorities. (I assume you are flying into and out of the main terminal. Terminal 1. The other terminal is very sparse. )

MaggieSue
January 12th, 2018, 10:26 PM
Yes I am flying Delta and on the way home I will be laying over three hours in Minneapolis, glad to hear about the shops!!!

RockinLou
January 14th, 2018, 11:02 AM
Enjoy the trip- I was going to say Delta is my favorite and it all depends on routing. We prefer flying from Milwaukee over Madison, but with a 3 hour layover, you should be in good shape. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it, the Delta staff have always been great with us. I don't recommend Spirit, so I'm glad you aren't flying with them, they are the pits!!

MaggieSue
January 14th, 2018, 12:22 PM
RockinLou, or anyone do you take the insurance offered?

Claire Hallman
January 14th, 2018, 01:55 PM
RockinLou, or anyone do you take the insurance offered?
It depends, I usually buy travel insurance if I book a trip well in advance, specially an expensive cruise that I have to fly to get there. If I am booking just a plane fare within the US in the near future then I do not.
I would consider what would happen if I had to cancel, would it wreck your finances terribly?

RockinLou
January 15th, 2018, 01:51 PM
RockinLou, or anyone do you take the insurance offered?

I compare the cost for the more flexible airfare which allows rebooking with the insurance. If I have a whole big package, like our recent trip to Disney/Universal, I did insurance on the whole trip.

Often, however, we just fly at the cheapest possible rate and keep our fingers crossed... while knowing that if something goes awry that we'd foot a hefty bill. Domestic travel in the US, I'm not sure that I'd worry too much if you don't have a resort stay wrapped up into the trip too.

MaggieSue
February 8th, 2018, 03:39 PM
One more question for flying. Do you use small bags to put your clothes in, in suitcase? I have some that came with my case but if they have to look in your suitcase it would take longer to open them and sort through the clothes? I did reach out to the airline and requested an escort, that was a great suggestion.

bubba
February 8th, 2018, 05:23 PM
One more question for flying. Do you use small bags to put your clothes in, in suitcase? I have some that came with my case but if they have to look in your suitcase it would take longer to open them and sort through the clothes? I did reach out to the airline and requested an escort, that was a great suggestion.

If you don't want to pay extra and can get all your clothes in a carry on, do it! That is what we did last time we went to Hawaii and it worked great! Most airlines charge at least $25 per checked bag.

You are allowed a carry on and a tote/purse. I normally take the carry on, the tote and a crossbody bag and they have never said anything. You can always tuck the purse into the tote if you have to!

Patty J
February 9th, 2018, 04:37 PM
To answer your question--Yes, I pack my clothes in ziplock 2 gallon or 2 1/2 gallon bags. Keeps them from getting too wrinkled and I can pack 2-3 outfits in one bag. The TSA if they do go through your stuff, I haven't noticed that the bags were disturbed. Also then they can just feel the bags up and not mess around with opening them. Have a safe trip.