So there I was in California on business for the last time in 2010 that also included a weeklong visit to Phoenix, Arizona. This after having already been on the golden coast for a week and all within days of the Christmas holidays. I prayed to every god known to man that this trip would end quickly because I was due on the East Coast for the family festivities!
The issue with this trip was how to get between our offices in Los Angeles and the ones in Phoenix. Where most of you are automatically saying "fly, silly!" I chose to drive the 400 miles instead. My rationale seemed fairly straightforward at the time, starting with the rental car. I typically use Hertz and saw that the one-way rental between my pick-up in California and the drop-off in Arizona was not that much more than renting a car for a week at each location. The other consideration was in saving the airfare for myself and the co-worker I was traveling with even after filling the topping off the tank before leaving and filling it once again after we'd arrived.
Further, having previously written about the backwardness of checking in two hours ahead of a one hour flight I figured I'd be at the outskirts of Phoenix at roughly the same time any scheduled flight would have arrived from Los Angeles. Here's how I saw the flying option playing out:
a. Leave for the airport at 12 Noon for a 3PM flight out of either LAX or Burbank to Phoenix from our offices in the Valley. ALWAYS plan an hour to get to LAX from anywhere in LA, minimum.
We left the offices at exactly 12 Noon to begin our drive down The 215 towards Pasadena.
b. Arrive at the car rental agency at 1PM, turn in the car and take the shuttle to the terminal.
c. Arrive at the check-in counter at 1:30PM and check-in, including one large suitcase for two weeks worth of clothing. My computer case and camera bag are my two carry-ons.
We'd driven 80 miles to merge with The 10 for the haul through the desert to Phoenix.
d. After making it through security there is roughly an hour before the flight with boarding to begin 30 minutes prior to departure. In this day and age of carry-on space, there is a reason to be there as early as possible. Oh, and though I'm a premium customer on American, they don't fly the route. It would have been either Southwest or USAirways, neither of whom hardly know I exist.
e. IF the departure is on time at 3PM, we arrive in Phoenix at about 5PM after the time change, maybe 5:15 after some generous schedule padding by the airlines.
Roaring down the road past Indio and Blythe we crossed in to Arizona along the lines of 6ish.
f. Collecting luggage again takes until at least 5:30 or 5:45 after the flight has landed followed by the shuttle bus to the car rental counter just outside the west end of the runways.
g. The car is picked up and the hotel maybe 20 minutes away in Tempe, even in the thick of Phoenix afternoon rush hour. If we had flown we'd be checked in at the hotel by 6:30 at the latest.
As it happened we pulled in to the Arizona capital about an hour after that and went straight to dinner. Relaxed, comfortable from the smooth ride and the generous front seats of our Toyota Camry as compared to the convenience of an hour and fifteen minutes in coach.
No bags to check and possibly lose, no long lines at security to deal with and possibly be strip-searched in to the bargain, no cramped seats, lack of carry-on space, delayed flights or overworked and possibly surly crews. We got there when we got there with all of our stuff in the trunk where we put it.
I'd do it again in a minute, even to Tucson!