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Properly planning for potentially perilous plane passage? (with Rail Reconsideration!)

AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened OptimistThe Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
edited March 2021 in Help / Advice Forum
I've talked in the past about how my bro is in the Navy. Well, he's got a shot at shore leave - which for opsec reasons I won't say more specifics about. We want to get him home, though, so we've decided to do something fun.

I'm going to fly out to his place, and then roadtrip back to our home with him (he's on his own to get back to base after the trip).

Thing is... I'm nearly 40 and have never handled my own travel planning like this. I mean, I can book hotels, but in terms of air fare I've always either had my family take care of it, or my work take care of it.

So how do I approach this? I have 3 main concerns in mind:

1. It needs to be somewhat affordable. I'm assuming a one-way ticket isn't terrible, but really I have no concept. And likely I'll need to buy 2 seats because I just don't fit in 1 coach/economy seat.
2. I need to make sure I can actually get to the airport decently. I have a local airport that I can fly out of, as well as potential bus and train options.... Heck, I might even be able to take a train out there. In fact, even as I type this, that becomes an intruiging option.
3. We live in the era of COVID. I haven't been vaccinated yet, and I need to protect myself and my family. I don't know how travel looks for this kind of thing.


So can anyone give me tips or pointers on where to head with this?

Edit: The more I look into this, the more rail travel would be awesome. Take the train up to Chicago Union Station, then take the Capital line and a couple others to my destination. It would take a couple days, but be super relaxing I think.

He/Him | "A boat is always safest in the harbor, but that’s not why we build boats." | "If you run, you gain one. If you move forward, you gain two." - Suletta Mercury, G-Witch
Athenor on

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    tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    1. This depends a lot on when you are leaving. For example I had to fly to NYC for work recently and did two one ways since I wasn't sure when I'd finish, flight out was $140 flight back was $500 but if I wanted to wait around a day would have been $300. Being flexible with arrival departure times and days can save you a lot, as can booking early. Be wary of late take offs with long layovers - you fly out of local at 8PM, land at hub at 10:30PM, fly out from hub at 630AM.

    I am not sure about the process for booking a 2nd seat for yourself, guessing this will require you to go through the airlines directly. But business / "first class" domestic can be surprisingly cheap to upgrade to, so I'd at least look at that, but what that is space wise depends on the airline and the plane.

    2. You are most likely going to go from your local to a hub somewhere-and which hub depends a lot of what airline you are flying. Are there any major airports near by? I know by me there are companies that run bus service to Ohare(about 80 miles) for people catching flights that don't want to leave a car, that are reasonably affordable. You can save money this way vs flying out of your local and getting a connection, and are more likely to get a direct flight.

    3. Get an actual N95 mask and wear it the whole time. Don't eat or drink on the flight. Airports are not super full right now, so if you need to grab a sandwich or a coffee in the terminal, it isn't impossible to find some space to do so then. Planes cycle out air pretty rapidly, so the risk isn't super high if everyone is masked.

    Make sure you have a valid ID, they pushed the REAL ID thing back a year, but since you mention busses and trains it doesn't sound like you drive.

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    AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    Oh, I drive. I'm in a small college town in Illinois, I need a car. :) I just have the option of a bus stop right outside of my apartment, an Amtrak that goes straight to Union station 10 minutes away, and multiple bus services to O'Hare. So I have options.

    He/Him | "A boat is always safest in the harbor, but that’s not why we build boats." | "If you run, you gain one. If you move forward, you gain two." - Suletta Mercury, G-Witch
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    tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Just FYI Union Station to Check-in is probably like 70 minutes or so of walking and riding the blue line.

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    RadiationRadiation Registered User regular
    edited March 2021
    I did train a while ago from St Louis to DC, and it wasn't too bad. Cost was a bit lower than airfare, but it did cost more time which didn't matter since I wasn't in a super big hurry. Trains aren't a bad way to travel, seats and what not are bigger with more room to stretch out. WIFI can be a bit spotty, so be prepared to not have internet on some portions of the thing. My phone worked in a good portion of places.
    Edit: Not sure on risk as it relates to airplanes. I know airplanes filter/move air more, but I'm not sure how much more. You'd be in the train a lot longer, and would need to eat, though there aren't as many people crammed in, and you have more space. You could go with one of the sleepers to help you isolate more if you need.

    Google.com/flights has helped me see the better days to fly in the past for cheaper airfare.

    Radiation on
    PSN: jfrofl
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    AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    Thanks. :) Yeah, thinking about it more and more, I could really make a proper vacation out of this. I know I have 2 transfer points mandated in the trip, one of which would be in DC. Now I'm getting delusions of like visiting the Smithsonian or something. Something I've always wanted to do but never have.

    He/Him | "A boat is always safest in the harbor, but that’s not why we build boats." | "If you run, you gain one. If you move forward, you gain two." - Suletta Mercury, G-Witch
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    HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    Radiation wrote: »
    I did train a while ago from St Louis to DC, and it wasn't too bad. Cost was a bit lower than airfare, but it did cost more time which didn't matter since I wasn't in a super big hurry. Trains aren't a bad way to travel, seats and what not are bigger with more room to stretch out. WIFI can be a bit spotty, so be prepared to not have internet on some portions of the thing. My phone worked in a good portion of places.
    Edit: Not sure on risk as it relates to airplanes. I know airplanes filter/move air more, but I'm not sure how much more. You'd be in the train a lot longer, and would need to eat, though there aren't as many people crammed in, and you have more space. You could go with one of the sleepers to help you isolate more if you need.

    Google.com/flights has helped me see the better days to fly in the past for cheaper airfare.

    Airliners actually move/filter air more than most hospitals do because they have to. It's also why the humidity levels are so low on planes (air at cruising altitude is very dry).

    But yeah unless you're springing for at least business class you're almost guaranteed to be packed in like a sardine which is less than ideal.

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    BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    If you end up flying. It can be cheaper getting a return ticket and not using the one way than getting a one way ticket, not necessarily a thing but check it out.

    Bones heal, glory is forever.
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    AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    If you end up flying. It can be cheaper getting a return ticket and not using the one way than getting a one way ticket, not necessarily a thing but check it out.

    Wow, that would be.. kind of wild. :D It is sounding like my other brother might be doing the same thing (a reverse trip where he goes with Navy bro on the insane car ride and then travels back home) , so there is that thought too.

    He/Him | "A boat is always safest in the harbor, but that’s not why we build boats." | "If you run, you gain one. If you move forward, you gain two." - Suletta Mercury, G-Witch
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    ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator Mod Emeritus
    edited March 2021
    Passage

    You're welcome

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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    RadiationRadiation Registered User regular
    edited March 2021
    Athenor wrote: »
    Thanks. :) Yeah, thinking about it more and more, I could really make a proper vacation out of this. I know I have 2 transfer points mandated in the trip, one of which would be in DC. Now I'm getting delusions of like visiting the Smithsonian or something. Something I've always wanted to do but never have.

    Smithsonians have been closed except the outdoor gardens. https://www.si.edu/museums
    There's still some neat stuff to see/do, but most things are closed. The arboretum (https://www.usna.usda.gov/) is neat, capital botanical gardens are neat but I don't think they are open.
    Some of the monuments are quite nice. I like the FDR one, but walking around the different monuments can kill a decent chunk of time.

    Radiation on
    PSN: jfrofl
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    AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    edited March 2021
    That's a bummer, but that's why I said "Delusions."

    Though looking at the map, Union Station in DC is like 2 blocks from the capitol. That in and of itself is cool. I haven't been in that area in 20 years.


    Okay, back to the train idea...

    I am not sure if I'm reading things right... the price goes from about $200-250 for all coach throughout the whole trip, to $500 if I get a family bedroom, to $900 if I get the more private rooms. I am not seeing why the family bedroom is so much cheaper...

    Edit: Okay, I think I've pieced together somewhat of an itenerary, though it will cause me to have some pretty large layovers.

    The big hurdle, of course, is CHI to my destination. That said, there's another route that bypasses Washington that might work better, timing wise? It would be around $500 total, with about a 6 hour layover in Chicago but otherwise pretty comfy.

    Athenor on
    He/Him | "A boat is always safest in the harbor, but that’s not why we build boats." | "If you run, you gain one. If you move forward, you gain two." - Suletta Mercury, G-Witch
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    tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Athenor wrote: »
    That's a bummer, but that's why I said "Delusions."

    Though looking at the map, Union Station in DC is like 2 blocks from the capitol. That in and of itself is cool. I haven't been in that area in 20 years.


    Okay, back to the train idea...

    I am not sure if I'm reading things right... the price goes from about $200-250 for all coach throughout the whole trip, to $500 if I get a family bedroom, to $900 if I get the more private rooms. I am not seeing why the family bedroom is so much cheaper...

    The roomette is 6.5'x3.5' the Bedroom is 7.5'x6.5'

    Also, just as a counter point, google flights gives me UA 5290 on April 5th one way from ORD to Norfolk, VA (just guessing) for $89, non stop 2h6m flight duration.

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    AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    edited March 2021
    Yeaaaah. Looking at that, I can spend $500 for the experience of the train and relaxing for a couple days with a sleeper car (it's $150 or so for coach), or $150 or so to just get there at a much more reasonable timeframe. Though I'd again likely need to buy 2 tickets for a plane because of the legroom issue.

    Athenor on
    He/Him | "A boat is always safest in the harbor, but that’s not why we build boats." | "If you run, you gain one. If you move forward, you gain two." - Suletta Mercury, G-Witch
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    zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    From what I've read, airplanes are not known for being a covid vectors. I have employees who have done flying during this period, and it was fine.

    Actually. I just looked at some flights around the country through expedia. And business class is super affordable right now. Like one way 200-300 bucks. That's the way to go. 1 seat business class (there isn't really a difference between business class and first class). Some of the flights had first/business class for the first leg, then for the 50 minute-90 minute last leg it was economy, which is fine.

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    BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular
    Some of the airlines are blocking all middle seats, and some are blocking every other row, I think?

    So I don't think you would need two tickets because you aren't even allowed to buy two seats next togther.

    A quick Google says it's maybe only Delta that is still doing this

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    AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    Thanks everyone for your advice!

    I decided to treat myself. I'm taking a very scenic route through the Appalacians on an overnight sleeper car. Just gotta decide how long I want to spend in Chicago, in terms of riding the train early and killing time at Union Station, vs. finding a time that lines up better.

    He/Him | "A boat is always safest in the harbor, but that’s not why we build boats." | "If you run, you gain one. If you move forward, you gain two." - Suletta Mercury, G-Witch
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