Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Border Towns

In the travel business there is a growing list of cities that could easily be identified as "border" towns. That has nothing to do with crossing international borders or the like; no, it has more to do with the limit a given traveler is willing to consider as far as flying or driving to their final destination. When air travel was less of a hassle and, ironically, offered more flights to every dot on the map, that limit was usually a town within a three hour radius of their starting point. Take in the commute to the airport, security screening, boarding, flying landing and getting in to town again and that three hours comes out to be six in one hand, half a dozen in the other. The main deciding question was whether or not the traveler wanted to deal with traffic up and down the highway.

I was recently tasked to Monroe, Louisiana on business for my employer. Following the ridiculous fare the airlines wanted for the journey I opted to drive the 310 miles instead. I love to drive, managed to get a nice SUV for the trip and was able to take a co-worker for the same overall expense if I had bought the airline ticket instead. Since I still would have had to rent a car in Monroe upon arrival, the savings to the company were appreciable and the drive in both directions quite pleasant and relaxing.

There were no hassles with security screening. There were no questions regarding the size of gels, liquids and other toiletries. Even though I'm an elite member with my preferred airline which negates any baggage fees there still were no concerns about whether or not my luggage would arrive or if there was sufficient overhead space on the plane for my computer bag. Oh how the list could go on regarding the things I did NOT have to deal with at the airport, and Monroe from my hometown of Dallas, Texas is decidedly a commuter market, which makes the size of the planes and the available space even smaller!

I drove both ways, we left when we decided, stopped whenever we felt like it, which in this case was at Shreveport to see what the casinos there were all about and actually arrived at our destinations within a few minutes of our predicted time of day. My co-worker had a GPS which could predict elapsed time and the SUV, the GMC Acadia, had a stopwatch we could use to time the trip if we so chose. The car also came with XM radio while I brought along my iPod so we weren't short of music whenever the co-working wasn't napping and I alone in my thoughts while rolling down the highway.

American Airlines offers three flights each day between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Monroe with the longest elapsed time being only an hour and five minutes. Depending on the personal commute to and from DFW along with the expense of the plane ticket, I believe I've just joined the ranks of those who have increased their border zone from three hours' drive to five.

I don't travel that often but lucky for the airlines few of the cities I regularly visit are within that sphere; only Monroe.

Gotta go!


  1. American has such high fares out of their hubs, I bet a lot of people do this sort of thing.

  2. Even with Southwest here in the area they don't necessarily exert a lot of downward pressure on fares, especially to commuter markets they don't even serve!