Guest post, Nick, Some thoughts on preparedness and my recent travels

As most of you who read this are aware, I’ve been on vacation for the last 10 days. First a flight to northern rural NY to stay with relatives, then a day at Niagara Falls, then a car trip across Canada to Michigan, and some more staying with relatives.

Ten days away from home and stacked preps is stressful for me (and I’ll assume for any serious prepper). Add in the car travel cross country, the travel in ANOTHER country, the flights, and the fact my family is along for the trip, and we get a great big pile-o-stress for your humble commentor. On top of all that, add typical family dynamics and a very sick father (thankfully on the way to recovery) and you get a  BIG PILE….

Anyway, here are some observations, some things that went well, and what you might want to consider in a similar situation.

======

NB- I will travel, I will go places that are targets, and I will subject myself to crowds because I recognize the odds are slim, and my wife and I have a philosophical commitment to giving our kids as much of the sort of life we grew up with as possible within the current circumstances. Sitting home on top of my pile of preps, forted up in my castle, isn’t desirable or practical. YMMV.

So, with that out of the way, what’s a prepper to do? I’m traveling by air, and land, and crossing international borders. Can’t carry my usual defensive tools, either in NY or Canadia. Can (and did previously) in Michigan, but the logistics of shipping tools to MI just for the 4 days outweigh the benefits. Travel by air with defensive tools has its own logistical considerations that I’ve commented on previously. In any case, it wasn’t gonna happen on this trip. This DID free up space and weight in checked baggage…

Other than my normal air travel considerations, what was especially worrisome about this trip? Well, mostly the 8 hrs of driving across Canadia and Michigan. So, I packed the ‘trauma’ bag from my truck to carry with us. We’d have a car (SUV) the whole time from landing in NY to flying out of MI. The one thing I really didn’t want was to come across a wreck and be unable to help. (Given my personal history of coming up on wrecks shortly after they’ve happened, this isn’t at all far-fetched.) No fire extinguisher, but at least I’d have my big first aid kit.

Other considerations were being in places that could be terror targets, and being away from home if a major event happened. Increased vigilance, and carrying my ‘travel bag’ addressed both concerns, as much as I could. Normally we travel very lightly when going to parks or any other activity. This time, I kept my carryon backpack with me. This gave me a few more resources if there were any major issues.

I’ve been carrying the bag, mostly unchanged, on trips with the kids for several years. It’s an old but VERY sturdy targus laptop carrying book bag style backpack. It’s from the era of 14 pound notebooks and has heavy cordura, good padding and suspension on the straps, and lots of pockets and compartments. It isn’t at all “tactical” looking, other than being black.

On this trip, I pulled out some stuff I’ve been carrying unused for some time. Nothing life saving or critical, but it made a difference and kept minor issues minor.

The first real reach into my bag of tricks was when we were getting on a sightseeing boat, and I noticed an older couple with difficulties. He had the very thin skin of the elderly and was bleeding pretty steadily from a tear on his forearm where he’d bumped into something. She was trying to mop up and control the bleeding with a napkin. From my ‘blow out kit’ (small first aid bag, meant to treat one serious injury like a gun shot or serious bleeding injury) I took a couple of extra large bandaids. I gave them to the lady  and turned their issue into a non-issue for the 2 hour tour. I had more serious dressings if that didn’t do it, but when I checked back they were fine.

I pulled out a towel for my shivering wet child after doing the walking tour at Niagara. I’ve had the tightly rolled up micro fiber ‘super towel’ in my bag for a while. It makes a decent kid blanket, or towel. It’s lightweight, and rolls up into a package smaller than a coke can.  If you’ve got little kids, get a good towel.

I used the foot first aid, blister care on my little one. I’ve been carrying the blister aid, and moleskin packages for a while. Tough resealable envelopes, weigh nothing, slip in a pocket, and invaluable when you need them.  Again, not lifesaving, but quickly addressed the little one’s pain and kept us moving with only a short stop.

http://first-aid-product.com/brand-name-safety-products/adventure-medical-kits-amk/foot-care-healthifeet/footcare-adventure-medical-glacier-gel-blister-burn-dressings.html

The food bars, and lightweight rain coat came in handy too, as did the drinks.  My EDC knife and FLASHLIGHT got their normal daily workout.

That covered us on the road, and while sightseeing, but what about getting home in the event of a big event?

 

The number one prep for that was that we had a rental car.  This gave us tremendous flexibility, and many more resources.   After much consideration and back and forth, I didn’t add any additional items to my normal travel bag, other than the big first aid bag.  I decided I had enough knives and didn’t need to add a Mora.  I was gonna add a water filter, but actually spaced out and didn’t throw it in.  FAIL.

What I did do was make sure there was a case of water in the SUV and enough ‘snack bars’ that we’d be able to move and keep moving if we had to.  For the first part of the trip, we’d be at a campground surrounded and supported by family, many of whom were camping and brought camping stuff.  Several of them are Eagle Scouts, and scout leaders, so I figured that was pretty well covered if we had to stay there.

For the second half of the trip, we’d be with family in Michigan.  This is somewhat far from home, but I’d considered it as a destination if bad things down here forced a move out of the area.  Unfortunately, it’s a ‘weekend’ house and not prepped.  That doesn’t mean it’s without resources… It has all the stuff a house in a wooded area by a lake, in a small town rural area has.  Fire pit and woodpile, axes, chainsaws, other tools (but no defensive tools), gas grill, well, etc.  What it doesn’t have is any real stored FOOD, or a gennie.

I wasn’t able to add a gennie or any gubs, but I did make a start on food.  I made a mad dash thru Home Depot and Walmart before we left, and bought a few things.  Granted it is not a well considered or comprehensive list, I feel much better now that I added this stuff.

From Home Depot, 2 at 12 gallon “Tough Totes” and a food safe 5 gallon bucket and lid.  These are mini versions of the heavy black bin with the waffled yellow lid.  I went with 2 smaller bins as being easier to move.  The bucket is for rice.

From Walmart, I hit the camping aisle, got a single burner butane stove, and 4 cans of butane.  2 packs of “Hot Hands” as there were no O2 absorbers.  Sawyer water filter.  Then off to the food aisles.  I was limited in time, and by what was there.  I got really lucky as this store stocked Keystone Meats.  So I grabbed a bunch of canned meat in various flavors, some canned veg, some canned soup, 3 liters UHT milk and 2 small cans of Nido powdered milk.  One liter peanut oil, one bottle soy sauce, big package of oatmeal, 2 big jars of peanut butter, nutella, and a can of pie filling rounded out the cans.  Added 20 pounds of rice and 5 packages of spaghetti.  The shortest storage life is the UHT milk.  The rest should be good for years stored in the basement.

At the house, the cans and all the rest went into the tubs.  The pasta and rice went into the bucket followed by the hot hands and the sealed lid.  I know O2 absorbers would be better, but the hot hands have to be better than nothing.  The bins went on a shelf, the burner and a couple of leftover 6 packs of soda went on top of the bins.  The bucket sits on the floor.

It’s not comprehensive, but it should provide food for a couple of weeks depending on how many of us are at the house, and what else is in the kitchen cabinets.  I’d like a more well-rounded and PLANNED larder, but it was the best I could do quickly with what was there.  All told, I spent about $250 USD with better than $70 spent on the filter, burner, and fuel.  I put it all together in about an hour, while family was at the beach, and it takes up very little space in the basement.  I feel a LOT better knowing there is some back up food there for any winter storm, tornado, or any other reason.

Maybe on my next trip there, I can find a used gennie at a yard sale and convince my relatives that it’s worth having.  The house is already wired for a gennie with an outdoor connection and transfer panel.  I’d love to get some other stuff stored there too, but family is resistant.  We’ll see, esp. as conditions in Chicongo deteriorate….

 

Anyway, that’s the report.  Nothing extraordinary, but preps and preparedness kept minor issues minor, quickly provided comfort and aid, and I got a small cache established at a possible bug out location (translating everything into prepper-speak.)

 

Nick

 

(added- I also downloaded the appropriate maps for the driving part of the trip, as we’d be out of wireless data coverage, and studied the route first, in case the maps didn’t work.  Filled the gas tank long before empty too.  Avoided the cities in MI that are no-go zones after dark.  All the standard things for traveling by car…..)

 

This entry was posted in guest post - nick, prepping. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Guest post, Nick, Some thoughts on preparedness and my recent travels

  1. DadCooks says:

    Thanks @Nick. Prepping is not just for the end of the world.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Nice on-the-fly selection. Depending on just how much meat and other canned foods you bought, that should provide enough food for a full person-month or more.

  3. OFD says:

    Nice work again, Mr. Nick. Thanks.

    I was gonna ask a quick question about the house in MI but caught myself in time as it would violate your OPSEC. Never mind.

    At some point I’ll have to go up with wifey and evaluate the MIL cottage in northern Nouveau Brunswick, I guess. I doubt they’ve stored anything there and my own security concern is that stuff might get stolen, as one of our kayaks got stolen a couple of years ago, apparently. Not a huge expense item but it’s annoying to have happen in wicked rural seacoast Canada.

    ” I’d love to get some other stuff stored there too, but family is resistant. We’ll see, esp. as conditions in Chicongo deteriorate….”

    I know the feeling exactly. Let’s hope it’s not gonna be too late for your folks in Chicongo. Or mine down in MA, where the spouses don’t believe anything bad will ever happen and their storied and wunnerful lives of shopping, travel, entertainment and socializing will continue forever and ever, world without end, amen.

  4. Bill F. says:

    I travel about 10% for work and have developed a few simple personal rules:
    1. If there is time and the distance is reasonable – drive (distance is typically ~500 miles one way – but I stretched that to 1200 this summer)
    2. Wear business casual when flying. If there are foul ups, the agents will typically treat you better than the guy in the flip flops.
    3. Be polite! Don’t loose your temper from the time you enter the airport until you exit (easier said than done sometimes). If you are nice to the flight attendants it can pay off. Same with gate agents, which leads to rule 4.
    4. Ask the gate agent (when there is not a line at their station) if you can have an exit seat, or if you get stuck in the middle of a row of three, ask if they have something that is better. You usually get a better seat for free.
    5. TSA precheck is easy to get and well worth it if you travel more than a couple of times a year.
    6. If you get to the airport early and there is an earlier flight going to your destination, see if you can get a seat (even a middle 3 row). Always better to be at the next stop earlier (particularly if it is home).

    Of course, the last 2 rules are typically only effective when flying alone.

  5. Nick Flandrey says:

    There were 12 of the large keystone cans, or the equiv in smaller canned chicken. Couple of bacon flavor spam cans, couple of small canned hams, and 4 soups. The peanut butter was jumbo size, as big as the keystone cans. I figured that unlike at home, bigger cans were appropriate as there would typically be more people there. 3 giant dogs too, but I didn’t actually consider their needs as they aren’t mine. Everything needed to fit into the tubs for ‘political’ reasons. Someone there really hates clutter and disorder.

    I was really surprised to find all the Keystone meats- chicken, beef, ground beef, and pork. My local wallyworld doesn’t have any keystone at all. At ~$6/can they seemed well priced too.

    They also had giant cans of sweet sue chicken, but not the whole chicken in a can… The selection in general was limited but they had a wide range to choose from (ie. only the most popular soup flavors, but lots of canned stuff besides soup)

    n

    @OFD, you can always ask, I might answer or answer with general type….

  6. Nick Flandrey says:

    @BillF,

    Good strategies, although the exit and middle don’t work anymore, in my experience, because they’ve ‘monetized’ those things. You’re not gonna get exit unless you pay. AND, I stopped asking for exit on most flights because you are gonna get stuck with the BIG GUY as a seat mate. Better to be regular aisle than exit with someone overflowing onto you.

    I used to fly extensively (almost 2x a week, most weeks of the year) for work. It’s a lot different than flying with family, and a lot more flexible. For anyone traveling for work, I’d add the rule of getting the first flight out in the morning- if things start to slip and back up, you will cascade down thru the system and still get out when others later in the day can’t. My boss used to insist on this.

    If you have some flexibility, look for a credit card with airline club membership. It usually also includes most of the frequent flyer perks. Those will cover the additional cost quickly and you get to use the lounges. Fer example, I get 2 free bags, and my companion does too. On most family trips this saves us $75-100 each way. Access to the free drinks and snacks, wifi, and MOST importantly the clean toilets in the lounge comes free if you look at it from that angle. Getting Premier Access and Pre-check is gravy….boarding early gets you access to the limited overhead space. Well worth it even if you only fly a few times a year.

    n

  7. Nick Flandrey says:

    BTW, holding a small child has worked once again to get me thru the metal detector instead of the naked scanner, without getting the anal probe. Although outbound they did tear my carryon apart and rescan all the electronics, at least I didn’t get my ‘nads squozen…

    n

  8. Greg Norton says:

    Wear business casual when flying. If there are foul ups, the agents will typically treat you better than the guy in the flip flops.

    Airline employees are required to wear business casual when flying on a free ticket. Somewhere at home I have the old AirTran’s policy sheet, “Too Fly To Fly” (I’m not kidding about the title). If you’re in khakis and a nice shirt, the employee’s instinctive response is that you might be an executive.

  9. Greg Norton says:

    I also downloaded the appropriate maps for the driving part of the trip, as we’d be out of wireless data coverage, and studied the route first, in case the maps didn’t work.

    I carry at least one Android device with cached maps as backup along with a paper map of the state.

    My favorite Android device for backup navigation is the Fire Phone. The upside of Amazon’s privacy invasion is that they will make sure that they know where you are at all times, and the GPS/GLONASS on the Fire Phone is excellent.

  10. Bill F. says:

    Nick, I still regularly get a free seat upgrade (Delta and AA) even though they charge for it if you select it ahead of time. The gate agent can easily do it if there is an open seat, and most will if you ask nicely. I have even had them comp me a “premium” seat. It is a risk that you will get “the big guy (gal)” as a neighbor, but that risk happens no matter what.

    Same with checked baggage. I will never check my bag at the ticket counter unless my bag is too big for carry on. If you get to the gate and the flight is full, and you have a bad boarding group, and you don’t want a hassle with trying to find an open overhead, gate check it which is always free.

    Definitely agree with you on getting the first flight in the morning. Equipment and crew are usually there and you have a lot more flexibility if things start going pear shaped.

    I agree on the credit cards – that can be a good deal if you fly the same airlines regularly.

  11. OFD says:

    Mrs. OFD has the TSA Pre-Check thing but it availed us nothing much when we flew out of Newark a couple of summers ago. Otherwise I guess it works OK for her. She also pays $500/year for the United Club thing and has found it to be well worth the dough. Place to hang out during two-hour layovers, have something decent to eat, catch up email and phone calls, etc. I was in one briefly and it was OK; I dislike crowds, and actually I’m not far off from Mr. SteveF in disliking people in general. Should be great fro my counseling career, haha. But that’s different; one on one I’m OK.

    Next time I fly with wife anywhere, I’m wearing loose khakis with only a comb and handkerchief in the pockets, plus my wallet and cell phone. No Leatherman Micra or knife or flashlight or any of that stuff. I’ll have that in the overhead bag and everything else for the cargo hold. If I’m bringing firepower, I’ll have all that taken care of as soon as I get there, and depending on what state we’re going to. Top it off with a nice shirt and sport coat and Bob’s yer uncle!

  12. Rolf Grunsky says:

    Either “Maps for Me” (maps.me) or “OSMAnd” will let you use GPS without any cell or wifi connection. I’ve used both on my tablets (no phone) in Toronto and Victoria. I was even able to use it on the flight to and from Victoria to track the flight across the continent.

    Just download the maps for the area you’re interested in and you’re good to go. It will work anywhere in the world where you can get GPS signal. The coverage for Southern Ontario seems to be good. I’ve used the Toronto maps when I’m going to an area I’m not familiar with. They were invaluable in Victoria.

  13. Nick Flandrey says:

    No micra as it will be confiscated unless it’s the airplane model that doesn’t have blades…

    n

    And if I were writing a “how to fly” guide, I’d add some of the following-

    Wear natural fiber outer layers for their resistance to melting.

    Keep everything you would absolutely need if stranded in a strange city ON YOUR BODY. If you have to evacuate, you will not be grabbing your bag. This means cargo pants for me, but a small flat bag in a cross body carry might work. Flashlight, phone, keys, and wallet at a minimum. Better is leave your keys in the car and use the keyless entry if you have it.

    Try to fly the same airline and build up miles, but if you aren’t gonna get status, buy it with a connected credit card. Save miles for upgrades. They are a lot more powerful/bang for buck on upgrades for long flights, than they are for a $250 domestic ticket.

    Get there EARLY. This gives you time for security. Time to deal with the extra scrutiny. Stay loose. NEVER let them know you are running late. DON”T be running late.

    The airline club is worth it if you fly more than once or twice a year, esp if you fly with family, and esp if it comes due to a credit card. It may be cheaper to pay the annual fee on a card with membership than buying the club membership outright. This is true for United, and used to be true for Platinum American Express.

    If the gate check in desk isn’t busy, it never hurts to go up and compliment the agent. This is true at the service center too. It’s gotta be sincere, but that’s not usually hard. Forex- “can I help you?” “Nope, just wanted to say you did a great job dealing with that customer” or “When I was flying out, and you guys were swamped with delays, I didn’t get a chance to tell you what a great job you did…” This has never failed to get me perks, even after I beg off… Again, has to be true and sincere.

    If you didn’t get to board early in the process and the flight is full with business travelers, you’re not gonna get overhead space, just gate check your bag. Saves a lot of time and hassle, and won’t cost money. I’ve ALWAYS checked bags. I can’t think of more than one or two flights where I didn’t. I’ve always had carryons too.

    The airlines are really good at getting your bag to you. You should still have a change of shirt, and underwear in your carryon. You can get toiletries at the hotel, and almost all have them for free if you ask.

    Never buy a charger again- just ask at your hotel if they have a “found” charger box to replace the one you “left at your last hotel.”

    Take a photo of all your checked bags. This will help if you lose them. Make sure your name is on the outside and the inside. Ladies might want to use a tag with a flap over the address or a business address if worried about creepers…

    Take a photo of the column in the parking garage where you parked. ONE WITH A LOCATION ON IT!! Or take a photo of the elevator. You don’t know how many times this has saved me. (Level 5, Purple, column 623)

    Finally, if you are gonna do a lot of traveling, get all the affinity programs, miles and points, figure out where you can double dip, and keep track of them. They do add up to real money, and it’s a small compensation for spending your life traveling but it helps.

    nick

    ADDED- small scissors with blunt tips are allowed. That means trauma shears. They’ll cut a penny in half and are the closest thing to a knife you can travel with.

    Your ‘tackticool’ strike pen will be confiscated. I can buy as many as I’d like at the surplus store in Austin. A mechanical pencil from the right maker will be 90% of a tactical pen, and won’t get confiscated.

  14. Nick Flandrey says:

    @Rolf, thanks for the links, I was trying to remember map.me but ended up just D/Ling the needed google maps. My wife did too on her ipad and iphone and everything just worked as usual.

    It would be worth it to have offline maps for any bug out plan, or even local recovery. Given how dependent local public safety is on the internet and smartphones, there’s a big emphasis on getting that back up quickly, but it is often overloaded during any big event.

    In the US there is a plan to build out wireless data nationwide coverage JUST for public safety response. We’ll see. It’s got some hams worried they’ll become unneeded. Oh well, they better up their skills.

    n

  15. Nick Flandrey says:

    @BillF,

    Well, I’m surprised, but glad for you. I rarely travel alone anymore so my situation is different from what it was, and I try to avoid both of those airlines so they may still be nicer than United. United would charge for the air on board if they thought they could. Unfortunately, they ate Continental, and I live in a United hub city. I won’t fly Southwest, and none of the others are viable choices either.

    I’ve got about 750K lifetime air miles, with about 500K on continental/united with the rest mainly between AA and Delta, with smatterings at others. It’s worth it to concentrate on one or two airlines, even if it does commit you to them. I’d have loved for Continental to have eaten UA, but unfortunately it’s easier to lower your standards and coarsen your attitude than to raise them. I think the UA/Continental merger will go down in business history with Compaq/HP for culture clash, and possibly AOL/TimeWarner for negative effects on customers. But Ol Jeff C avoided prosecution and got his big ol retirement check, so he’s sitting pretty. Too bad for the Continental employees, and customers.

    n

  16. OFD says:

    For public safety/security alerts to your email/phones, etc., check out Code Red. I just downloaded it but it was a real hassle with iTunes, per usual. Very annoying. Also for checking on overhead air traffic, FlightRadar24. Wife thinks it’s the bees knees.

  17. Miles_Teg says:

    ” I won’t fly Southwest…”

    Why not?

  18. MrAtoz says:

    MrsAtoz flies Southwest enough to get an annual Companion Pass. The Companion flies for free. We get $10K+ of free flights, easily. That’s why we LUV Southwest. Some elitists avoid SW because it is open seating. You sit with the riff raff. There’s nothing like some fat dude’s roll of blubber flopping on you for several hours.

    I posted before, we got into the Admirals Club by showing our milspec retired ID. The clerk said thanks for your service, enjoy the club. She has a Platinum Amex so we get access to their clubs, too.

  19. OFD says:

    Frankly I don’t see why MrAtoz can’t just commandeer an Apache and ferry the two of them around the country for the various gigs. Plus, we’d rent it out from him plus his flying service; win-win, amirite? I’ll even pull the door gunner duty when he flies over Mordor and Babylon-on-the-Hudson.

  20. JimL says:

    “the big guy”.

    I am that big guy. At marathon weight I was 225. I’m now a bit bigger, but not really “fat”. Getting ready for another marathon, but will probably run at 250. You do NOT want me to sit next to you if it can be helped. I should have played sports ball.

    I look for the aisle seat, the exit seat, and the middle seat in the back of the plane. It’s not much, but anything to make it work. After years of running, getting stuck in one position for 2-5 hours in flight just sucks. I’ll gladly pay for the upgrade if it’s available. Occasionally, I am just moved there. I make it a point to pay attention & nod at appropriate times. Yes, i can handle the exit door…

  21. Dennis says:

    @Mr. Nick – great post! I’m headed to a mountain retreat for Thanksgiving with family later this year; driving and staying for a week. Will be interesting as no one else is prepper-minded…

    I’m struggling to find downloadable/printable maps for the city I work in. Trying to set up multiple routes to get home (22 miles one-way drive) as most go through pretty rough neighborhoods (heavy on the “hoods”). I’ve downloaded bits and pieces from Google but end up with not enough detail like street names, one-way info, etc. to be useable.
    Any suggestions?

  22. Miles_Teg says:

    On my recent flight to Melbourne and back I had an asile seat, with someone in the window seat and a vacant seat between us. Yes, I was pleased.

    What irritated me was being ‘randomly’ selected in both directions for explosive screening. Perhaps I should have worn a burka.

  23. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m old enough to remember when ticket agents automatically seated me at the emergency exit because as a guy in my 20’s or 30’s and at 6’4″ and 240 pounds they assumed I’d be good to have at the emergency door if anything happened.

  24. Ray Thompson says:

    What irritated me was being ‘randomly’ selected in both directions for explosive screening

    I get that all the time and am used to it although still don’t like it. I put everything that is in my pockets and my belt in my carry on before I get to security. Saves time as I know I am going to get screened. Once when leaving Norway I was taking aside to a private area and asked to strip to my underwear. They also took my passport aside and very carefully scrutinized the document, as in the use of special lights and a magnifying glass. All I can figure is that my name matches someone on the nefarious list.

    someone in the window seat and a vacant seat between us

    On our last flight home from Scotland I paid extra for extra legroom. Chose seats with extended room in from and in back to avoid seat kickers. Plane was full last time I checked. At some point they changed the aircraft to a 747 and the plane was 25% empty. No one in front of us, no one in back of us, and empty middle seat.

    When I prep for a flight I have enough in my carry on to last a couple of days. All my required medicine is in the carry on. Extra battery charge pack for the phone. Two FLASHLIGHTS. Copy of my passport. Couple of bandaids. A few dollars hidden in a compartment (TSA likes to steal so I hide it). A copy of my medical information and emergency contact information. Some powdered drink mix packets. And some gummi bears.

  25. DadCooks says:

    And some gummi bears.

    Gummi like bears and other creatures are a very popular delivery vessel for many illegal drugs these days. Might raise suspicion.

  26. Ray Thompson says:

    Gummi like bears and other creatures are a very popular delivery vessel for many illegal drugs these days

    I did not know that. Maybe that is why one trip back from Europe I raised a few eyebrows in customs when I was carrying 8 kilos of Gummi Bears in my luggage. Got asked a couple questions about why so much. They let me through.

  27. Greg Norton says:

    Some elitists avoid SW because it is open seating. You sit with the riff raff. There’s nothing like some fat dude’s roll of blubber flopping on you for several hours.

    My problem with Southwest and the open seating is that they pretend that there is actually enough room in the last row of a 737 for three seats on each side. AirTran used to be a reasonable alternative with reserved seating in and out of Atlanta … until Southwest bought them.

  28. OFD says:

    The couple of times now I’ve flown with my wife, she’s gotten me an aisle or exit seat even if she has to sit somewhere else. I’ll bring a cane next time and hobble to the plane; it won’t be an act, either. Maybe they’ll take pity on me. Disabled old veteran, lol. Good tip from Mr. Ray; I wanna go through with empty pockets and no belt. Stuff it all in the carry-on. They won’t let me take it if the plane goes down? Probably moot at that point, amirite?

  29. Nick Flandrey says:

    I skip Southwest because they don’t spend enough on maintenance, their planes get more duty cycles (and the subsequent metal fatigue) than other airlines, and yes, I like knowing where I’m going to sit. I also don’t like 3 or 4 stops on the way from one coast to the other.

    I flew them way more than I liked when I was living and working in Cali. My wife still flies them inside TX. I just don’t.

    WRT the TSA, I’ve talked about it before, but I get singled out for extra attention every time. EXCEPT these last couple of times when I carried a small child thru the checkpoint. That has saved me the pat down, but not the bag search.

    I also empty my pockets into my carryon before the checkpoint. This includes a couple of tissues or any folded paper. I will be searched, and they will ask “Do you have ANYTHING in your pockets.” They get upset when you have stuff, even if it’s innocuous. [while I don’t mind upsetting them, I also do want to get to my plane eventually.] All the stuff goes back into pockets after clearing thru.

    n

  30. Ray Thompson says:

    I skip Southwest

    When I worked for EDS at the San Antonio (eventually closed) I used to fly to Dallas a couple times a week. Had a ticket book. Got to the airport, pulled out a ticket, got on a plane to Love Field. Basically a flying bus. Manifest consisted of saying your name into a tape recorder. Open seating, no reserves, no boarding order, just get on the “bus”. Tolerable for a 45 minute flight. Best option available by far. That is in the early 80’s before TSA and all the other crap.

    I’ll bring a cane next time and hobble to the plane

    I used my VA disability card to get early boarding. When they ask for people needing assistance I go to the gate and show my card stating I am a disabled veteran. I can’t carry my retractable aluminum walking/hiking stick because TSA thinks I could club my way into the cockpit.

    Have tried to use that VA card a couple of times to get a better seat. Did not work. Not even close.

    Another trick to get a free checked bag is to put in some sort of medical device. Airlines have to carry medical devices at no charge. Put a blood pressure cuff in your suitcase and indicate the suitcase carries medical equipment and the bag flies for free. Also works for a second checked bag.

  31. MrAtoz says:

    I also don’t like 3 or 4 stops on the way from one coast to the other.

    That’s a good point. MrsAtoz will only fly non-stop on SW, unless it is the only way. Then she’ll book another airline. The SW 800 series planes have more leg room. My knees have a solid two inches of room sitting up.

    Our summer intern is currently on an 18 day jog with MrsAtoz. Coast to coast and in between. We’ll save about $5K on the intern’s fare alone. I’ll be back on the Companion Pass in Sep. Not looking forward to all the travel.

    BTW, Apaches are real gas hogs, Mr. OFD. It’d probably be parked most of the time. We could just sit on the ground, fire up the Longbow and pick off fleeing SJW cockroaches.

  32. Nightraker says:

    They have yet to complain about my Zebra f-701 stainless pen, a tactical substitute.

    I flew to the Bay Area of SF for an indefinite stay (lasted 5 months) couple years ago. Stripped myself of sharps and hit Home Depot for a razor knife, folding knife and cheap leatherman when I got there.

    Flew the cattle car Spirit Air with a roller bag in the overhead and a nifty Red Oxx carry on gadget bag. The gadget bag got a thorough going over on a 2nd trip after the news revealed 95% bomb detection failure rate. 😛 The largish Maxpedition cargo pocket tool/repair kit got the most attention to make sure the vice grips, adjustable wrench and multi-driver were less than 7 inches. Kindle size tablet, batteries, HDD, cords, chargers, camera, etc. Commercial boo-boo 1st aid in a Alok bag plus smallish pillbox with vitamins, pink pills, aspirin, fizzy stomach pills, toothpicks and cotton balls sailed thru. Similarly sized sewing kit w. needles worked, too. 2x Cliff bars and 2x airline sized Jim Beam, no comment. Coupla FLASHLIGHTs.

    The lock pick set did raise an eyebrow, but I said I worked in Facility Management as a Handy Dude which seemed to satisfy.

    Spare shorts and socks, 1 each various zip lock, garbage and HD grocery bag, empty 1/2 liter thermos, tiny binocs, spare glasses in case, memo pad and pen, mechanix gloves, mini bic lighter wrapped w electrical tape, a few zip ties, travel towel, bandana, shop towel. EMT scissors. Spork. Pen sized WD40 and Tide stain treater. Small compass.

    No parachute or spare joystick. 🙂

  33. OFD says:

    “All the stuff goes back into pockets after clearing thru”

    You have to do that on the plane, amirite, ’cause you’re now boarding after that checkpoint?

    “Apaches are real gas hogs, Mr. OFD…”

    No problemo, senor; gas cards provided free of charge from all the “alt-right” organizations. What about Blackhawks? That’s all new stuff to me, see; my thing was Hueys and C-130 gunships. Couple times up in observation prop jobs for boffo laffs. Got around pretty good for a very lowly machine gunner (attrition, one way or another).

  34. JimL says:

    C-130 is STILL around. I can’t see them retiring.

    OTOH, the C141, which I jumped from a few times, has been retired. Seems the Hercules has stood the test of time.

  35. MrAtoz says:

    OTOH, the C141, which I jumped from a few times, has been retired.

    Three of my five “cherry” jumps were from the C141. The other two were C130. They had a C123 we tried, but it broke down on the taxiway.

    No problemo, senor; gas cards provided free of charge from all the “alt-right” organizations. What about Blackhawks?

    I’ll focus on the aircraft, you focus on the shooster guns and roaches.

  36. lynn says:

    And some gummi bears.

    Gummi like bears and other creatures are a very popular delivery vessel for many illegal drugs these days. Might raise suspicion.

    And just another effect from The War of Drugs ™ on honest citizens.

    We were born free !

Comments are closed.