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Flying to Mexico

Flying to Mexico

Mexican fruit stand

Mexican fruit stand

There is more than one way to skin a cat.  But after years of traveling between Guadalajara and New York, I like flying in Delta.  (December 2009 note–There is still good information here, but everything has gone up.  My last two trips I have flown Continental, which has been less expensive than Delta.  Coco went from $100 round trip, which was an inconvenience, to $250 a round trip, which is a robbery.  365Mexico will have more to say about the state of travel as time goes by).

August 4, 2007

I have traveled from Upstate New York to Mexico by train (classy), bus (economical), and car (looooong).  But in my 15 years of going back and forth, I’ve usually traveled by plane.

Economics is always a factor in our travel plans.  The bus and train may be a little cheaper (or not—you have to check), but once you figure in some food and the effects of traveling overland for three and a half days non-stop, sleeping in your seat, flying is almost always the way to go.  I learned the hard way, on a $69 Anywhere We Go Greyhound special from Utica to San Diego.   Gruesome.

In trying to save a dime I’ve also combined modes of travel.  Once I got a good deal on a flight from San Antonio to Syracuse.  No matter that we live more than 1000 miles from San Antonio.  I took an overnight bus to the boarder, crossed on foot the next afternoon and bought a Greyhound ticket to San Antonio (the ticket lady didn’t speak Spanish and people in line had to translate for her), getting into San Antonio at almost dark.  I dragged all my luggage onto a city bus and rode to the airport, where I would fly out at 7 the next morning.  No money for a US hotel of course—I sat up all night in the deserted airport talking to a Mexican kid who had crossed without papers and who expected to fly (his first time) to Michigan in the morning.  Needless to say, I was a bit wilted on arrival.

Another time the cheapest route was to fly to Miami, spend the night there, and come up to New York and finally Utica on the train.  It was a pleasant ride.

Then there was the year the cheapest flight was Guadalajara-Mexico City-Cancun-Washington-New York City-Syracuse.  I didn’t know if it was a plane or an elevator.

Those were the days when you depended on a travel agent to get you the best flight—and I don’t think they tried very hard.  Thank goodness for Internet searches and electronic tickets.

One of the first things I learned once I could actually look up the ticket prices for myself and try different dates and airports was that Syracuse is incredibly expensive to fly into.  I suppose not too many people go there—or to Upstate New York, for that matter.  Our Utica airport closed a few years back (read “The Sweetest Arrival” for a description of the Utica airport).

So that’s why I started going to Newark.  EWR is very conveniently located to New York City, but you don’t have to go through the city to get to the rest of the world, (read: Upstate New York).  A few times I have flown in and rented a car to drive home (expensive) or stayed the night at the airport Howard Johnson’s (less than $100 a night, a subway ride from Manhattan) and taken the bus or the train the next day.

Lately I’ve been traveling more with Coco, so buses and trains are out (why, Amtrak?).  Thank goodness for our wonderful friend Bill who lives in New Jersey and has picked us up and shuttled us around more times than we can count.  We may never be able to repay people like Bill who are unfailingly gracious and kind to us, but we always try to pass on his good deeds to someone else when we have the chance, and to try to emulate his old school, gentlemanly ways.

My brother travels for work and can sometimes give me a ride Upstate or, on the return leg, back to the city.  On other trips Bill has driven me all the way to Utica, or up to Albany, where Mom and Rich pick me up.

It’s a long, complicated trip, but I just can’t pay the extra $300 tariff to get to Syracuse.  Plus by flying into Newark I almost always have a day free in New York City, to sightsee and recharge my batteries.

Over the years I have flown American, United, ATA, and Delta.  Delta is my favorite, hands down.  The last three flights I have paid less than $500 round trip, taxes and fees included.  Before traveling Delta I usually paid $600-$800.  I will be flying Delta to New York on Tuesday, and to my delight the round trip ticket was $365, the lowest I have ever paid.

Delta has been very nice to Coco—she travels in the cabin with me, underneath the seat.  Actually, once you pay for a dog in the cabin and go through the detector, no one even notices you are carrying an animal aboard.  It is a little irritating that Delta charges $50 each way for a pet, and the cage counts as a carry on, so you basically can’t carry on anything else (except a “personal item like a purse or, in my case, a laptop).  Since they provide absolutely no extra service, the airline is basically charging you $100 round trip for one of your carry on bags.  Coco only weighs 5 pounds.

On the other hand, other airlines charge more—usually $80 or $90 one way (check to be sure, I’m speaking from memory here), and some only ship pets in cargo.  Plus Delta is convenient for us because there is only one stop, in Atlanta, and it flies into Newark instead of LaGuardia or Kennedy (both of which are out of the way for us).

Frank Bruni in the New York Times recently gave a poor rating to the food Delta serves in first class overseas flights, but after starving on long runs on airlines that only served pretzels, I am always delighted to get a hot breakfast between here and Atlanta.  It isn’t fancy, but it ain’t bad, either.  I’ll take yours, Frank.

I fly this week.  I keep reading about higher prices and more crowded planes, with lots of delays.  I beat the ticket price.  I’ll let you know what I think of the trip.

Dan and Omar

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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.