I do not know when Frequent Flyer programs began, but I vaguely recall in the early 1980’s joining one. I do not think that this airline exists any longer. At that time, I believed that the concept was to generate loyal customers by rewarding them with occasional free flights. Furthermore, more air travel promoted this form of transportation as well the tourism business in general. Now, earning “miles” has become so separated from actually traveling, that we generate them by purchase a certain brand of toothpaste from a certain drug store chain with extra miles during certain slow-season periods. I guess we do use toothpaste while on vacation, so this all makes sense.
For this trip, when we began to work on reservations, I realized that I had enough frequent flyer miles on one of my credit cards for airline tickets. I thought that we should investigate exchanging some miles for flights across country, rather than more magazine subscriptions, which I do not have time read. We found the dates and destinations, with a minor charge for the second ticket, and then some processing fees. It still added up to some savings, which we have devoted to some interesting sounding tours in the canyon country we will visit in a week or so. Click. The airline notified us of a few schedule changes over the past couple of months, as they jockied the flight times to fill up as many seats as possible. No problem, as long as we arrived on the correct day and approximate time. Fortunately, they left enough time to spend some money in the Salt Lake City airport (TCBY indulgence).
As we were traveling from BWI, early in the morning, we arranged to drive to a Park and Fly affiliated hotel after work Thursday. In addition to being 15 minutes from the airport, the cost of the hotel room is about the same as the cost of long-term parking for a couple of weeks. We just pick up our car when we land and collect our luggage after the trip. The room was comfortable and we could even open the window for some fresh air at night. That also let the planes fly through the room as they approached the landing strip just a couple of miles away. Fortunately, we are early rises, as we did not quite set the alarm clock correctly to wake us as 4:15. Well trained bladders got us going and on the shuttle van with full travel mugs of coffee in 20 minutes.
The airline check in system was not as awake as we were. At 5:15 a.m., the line was curving just about to the doors. After about 5 minutes, we worked our way up the electronic check in section to be told that, since we had printed our boarding passes the day before, we belonged in the bag check line instead. We spent about 45 minutes in that line, parked, as all the 6 and 6:30 a.m. flight folks got waved up to the counters in front of us with 7 a.m. flights. We could be self-righteous about arriving early to wait on those who slugged in at the last moment to get reward by cutting in line. Our mugs of coffee drained.
Security moved smartly, as all the 6 & 6:30 travelers had zipped through while we waited to check our bags. The TSA gentleman greeted us cheerfully through the ID check. The scanner security thanked me for putting my jacket on the belt (now 3 people behind my shoes, etc.). My backpack got pulled for inspection of a suspicious object. I did not joke or converse with this officer. Suspicious objects require serious attention. He bypassed the maps, books, lumbar back support pillows, baby carrots. He wondered about the PB’nJ sandwiches. Hmmm. What’s the white stuff in the salsa jar. Goat cheese. Try to keep a straight face and explain goat cheese without going into extraneous detail. Swabs, wipes, 3 passes through some specialty scanner. Yes, it’s goat cheese. Nothing more. He let me through this time… Guess, they do not find many travelers with large jars of goat cheese in their lunch boxes. Our nephew in Reno will be forever grateful to the scanner allowing his goat cheese to make it to Reno.