Last week, I had a business trip to Indianapolis with one of my Hoboken-based team members. Trying to be a responsible manager, I decided against booking the direct flight (Continental EWR-IND $1200) and booked a flight on another airling with a connecting stop (US Air LGA-IND $400). Really, when you look at it from just a dollars and cents/sense perspective, it’s totally the right thing to do. I want my team to be able to take trips when they need to. Leaving some of the T&E budget for everyone else just makes sense.
Or does it? Time wise, a direct flight takes a little less than 2 hours each way, assuming minimal delays. The itinary with connections brought it in at about 4 hours. But that’s not the whole story. Having made this trip “9 ways to Sunday” and gifted with a little time in various airports waiting out delays, I’ve determined there is no really one ”best” way to get from here to there.
Pros – Well, duh, it’s a direct line between point A and B. Of course that’s a pro. 2 hour vs. 3+ in flying time alone, not to mention how much time the connections take. And, with 2 flights each way instead of 1, your odds of being delayed anywhere double.
Cons – The cost, as mentioned above. Plus, on Continental, the flights are on small Embraer jets – with a 1-2 configuration. People over 6 feet can’t stand straight up on the plane. It’s cramped beyond belief. I once took one of those jets to Savannah and our 2 hour delay on the tarmac brought on a panic attack of unprescented proportions.
Pros – Again, the cost. My whole trip to Indy last week cost less than just the airfare of the direct flight would have been. The ablity to be on a larger plane flying on US Air can’t be discounted.
Cons – Going to Indy, we took the US Air Shuttle from LGA to DCA. This was a full, real plane. A lovely trip. However, once we got to DCA, our connecting flight was delayed. It ended up being delayed for over 90 minutes. Therefore, we started our travels on the 7am flight and landed in Indy around noon. That’s 5 hours, when the direct flight would have gotten me there in 2 hours. If I am trying to maximize my time with the team in Indy, perhaps spending most of my day in transit isn’t the smartest option.
On the way home, we flew IND-PHI-LGA. I’d have to put the Philly airport as one big “con”. When you change planes on that route, you have to go out of Terminal F, which means taking a shuttle bus. As soon as our flight from Indy landed, I got notice that our flight was delayed. No problem, I thought, there are flights almost every half hour from PHL to LGA – we’ll just take another one. Easier said than done. It took 20 minutes to get from Terminal C to F. When we got to the gate for the earlier LGA flight, it was full and under weight restriction. Fine then, our flight was only delayed for 40 minutes. We’ll just go to our gate and wait. Well, don’t you know that it turned into another 90 minute delay. Plus, the flights between PHL and LGA are on prop planes. More roomy than you would think, yet smelly and bumpy. At that point, I just wanted to be back on the ground in NY, which I was 7 hours after leaving the Indy office to head for the airport, which is IMHO way too long for a trip that should have taken 4 hours, tops.
I have a trip to Indy coming up in late winter, and you know I will be thinking long and hard about what makes the most sense overall. Low fares are one thing, but my sanity doesn’t come cheap, and I lost what little I had last week. If only I remember what airport I left it in…