I headed up to South Dakota to visit my grandson. I had to fly and lately flying has not been a pleasant experience. But on this trip it actually wasn't too bad.
I researched prices and finally found a flight out of Salt Lake that went through Grand Junction and Denver before it hit Sioux Falls. It was well over $400. As always the direct flight was over $600.
So I looked into starting the flight in Grand Junction to cut off one leg of the flight. It actually saved me over $200 dollars. The drive was only slightly longer and so much less zooy than heading into the big city.
I arrived in Grand Junction at 11 a.m. for a 1:15 p.m. flight and parked in the back of the parking lot. It took me five minutes to walk into the airport and get to screening. Nice change there. Once I got through the screeners (who actually smiled at me and called be by name), I was at my gate.
I hoped it was my gate since it had no flight numbers or times on the board, just a list of the city "Denver" repeated six times. I was very early and they were boarding another flight to Denver and I overheard another lady asking if she could take the earlier flight. They seemed OK so I stepped up and asked too. In a heart beat they gave me a new boarding pass and sent me on my way and they were smiling.
I now had plenty of time to eat while waiting for my connection in Denver. No rushing to figure things out, just relaxed time spent getting to my destination.
Flying back was equally as nice. Sioux Falls airport is almost as small. My flight did not have a gate listed by it on their board so I just walked to the end of the terminal and there it was. The terminal was only seven gates long.
As I sat waiting, the airline check in person came over and gave me a luggage tag without my needing to ask. I engaged in a small book club like discussion with several fellow passengers as we waited. Each of us giving a review of our books we were in the middle of and comparing favorite authors.
Boarding was quick and painless. They took our carry-ons and checked them at the gate. The airline stated I would have had to pay at least $15 dollars to check my luggage at time of ticketing. This was free.
At each stop they were prompt to get our bags back in our hands in the jet way. Again I had plenty of time to easily get a bite to eat before making my connection in Denver.
We went out on the tarmac to board the plane from Denver to Grand Junction. The elderly women right ahead of me in line turned to me and ask "Is this one of those prop planes?" I smiled and pointed up at the winged prop just over our heads. I assured her I thought we would be okay and she climbed the stairs and found her seat.
I found myself seated next to a very nice women from Grand Junction who showed me pictures of her son attending West Point. She was returning from a visit with him.
We arrived in Grand Junction ahead of schedule and I was off the plane with luggage in hand in less than five minutes. Only another five minutes expired before I was finished in the bathroom, out of the terminal and seated in my car ready for the drive home.
Despite still having to take off my shoes to walk through the metal detector and not take any liquids in my carry-on, it was almost a throwback to flying in my earlier days.
I know we can never go back to that more relaxed days of flying, but for this trip, it was sure a treat. And it cost me less, too.