Monday, August 08, 2011

Flying the Friendly Skies...of Southwest?

I never post ahead of time when I have to travel; I'm neurotic that way. This last weekend, however, my family and I had to fly from Sacramento to Ontario, California, and I was not looking forward to the trip. There are just so many things that stink about air travel - parking, TSA agents getting familiar with body parts, long waits and delayed flights, crowded and uncomfortable planes, waiting for baggage, getting your rental car, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum - that I had no hopes for a good trip.

Still, as negative and nasty as I can be, I have to give credit where it is due. And based on this trip, a lot of credit is due. I'll take it in chronological order, rather than best to worst.

1) Sacramento "International" Airport - Parking in the garage across from the Southwest terminal was a snap. Second floor of the parking garage, easy to get to the terminal. Nice.
2) Southwest Airlines check in - I had checked in online the day before, so when I got to the counter, I just had to plug in the confirmation number, check my bags (which didn't cost extra - thanks SWA), and head to security. Very fast, very neat, and they got me on my way without a hitch.
3) TSA. read that right. The agents at the security checkpoint were professional and helpful. You know something? If you read the rules and cooperate, they appreciate it and things go quickly. It's the idiots who don't put their metal items in the bin or who whine and complain that make it bad for everyone. Yes, there are bad agents out there who seem to get a kick out of frisking babies, but on this trip, all was fast and professional. Nice job, folks.
4) Sac "International" food a point. Nice selection, but does anyone else feel completely gouged by the time you pay for a small snack? Ouch.
5) Southwest gate and flight. So easy. Boarded on time. Got my seat. Got my beverage. Arrived on time. Got off quickly. What more do you want?
6) Ontario baggage claim. 15 minutes and out of there. Nice.
7) Budget Car Rental at Ontario International. Got a great deal on my rental car. Ended up with a pristine Toyota Camry that drove great and was perfect for our needs. At the counter and away to my hotel in about 15 minutes total. Again...nice.
8) Hampton Inn - Even though they didn't particularly choose to be so close to our meeting place...3 minute drive? Fantastic. Room was clean, free breakfast was very nice. Only complaints: thin walls, peanut-sized swimming pool, exercise room with no weights. And yet, I was there to sleep. I wasn't there for a spa package.
9) Tokai Sushi in Corona, CA - All you can eat for $22. They didn't limit you to 2 pieces at a time, either. Good food, plenty of it, nice wait staff. Made for a fun evening, even if they did have to wheel me out because I ate too much.
10) Budget Rental returns: Took 10 minutes with a friendly staff member. On our way in a hurry. Only complaint is that the signs in Ontario leading you to the rental return area stink. Get better signage, city of Ontario. And make it fast!
11) Southwest check-in again. See above.
12) TSA - Again...see above.
13) Southwest gate and flight....see above. Even pushed away from gate five minutes early!
14) Sac "International" baggage claim. Crowded, but well-organized. We were out of there in a shot.

Thumbs down to:
1) Ontario airport food selection. A small bag of Jelly Bellies...$5. A slice of Round Table Pizza: $9. A bunch of restaurants closed at 6:30 p.m. Leaving my money in my wallet: priceless.

And a thumbs-down to one aspect of the trip in particular:
1) Sac "International" Parking fees: Okay, let's see if I can make this make sense. The fee is $15 daily along with hourly if not a full day. Arrived around 6 pm Thursday. Picked up car around 9 pm Sunday. That makes...3 full days and about 3 hours. That should be about $45 plus a little more. My cost: $60. Really?? Sixty bucks?? My flight cost around that much. Shame on you guys. That's a bit ridiculous.

All in all, it was a surprisingly easy trip. Kudos to the above agencies and companies for making it so.


Asia said...

i didn't even know we had an ontario

Adam said...

It ain't much...but it's there. Beautiful Assembly Hall in Norco, though.