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Friday morning I drive a client's car from Brookline, MA to Westminster, MD. Left at 7:45AM and make great time, crossing the Tappan Zee bridge in a little over 3 hours. Get onto the Garden State Parkway and cruise right down. I had one of our affiliate car services scheduled to pick me up at 4:30PM. But my progress is so good, I have them change it to 3:15PM. That was right when I was getting on the Jersey Turnpike at about noon.

Then the poop hits.

Over a 15 mile span, it was bumper to bumper. Took 70 minutes to get out of it. Speeds picked up as we passed the I-195 interchange to Philly. So I still hope to make it by 3:15PM. Cross the bridge into Delaware and BAM, merge congestion. Between that and more traffic hitting the tolls in Delaware, 4PM looked more viable. So we change it to that.

Getting to Westminster at 3:50PM, things go well from there. My driver was there and, after dropping off the car, we head out to BWI. Nice drive. I had hoped to try making a 4:30 flight but had a 6:30 booked. Knowing I wouldn't have a shot at the 4:30, I relax a little.

Get to the airport at 4:50PM. Walk in and look at the flight departing board. My 6:30 Air Tran was canceled. When I booked it on Thursday, I noticed it was only 40% full. Warning signs should have flashed in my head. But, there's a 5:30 that's delayed to 5:47. Let's try for it. So I get in line and get on the phone. I'm on hold for 10 minutes but finally get through. They say there is 3 seats available. But at the same time the agents were looking for people on the 6:30. When I said I was, they said to step aside and they'd get us on the 5:30. My HUGE blunder? I didn't continue booking on the phone.

So they take us to the side and then take a couple with a TON of luggage. They bicker for 10-15 minutes. I try to explain that I have carry on and that I can make the flight if they just check me in. They ignore my pleas. I get back on the phone with Air Tran and they say there are still seats but now they can't issue me a seat. Finally, at 5:25, they get to me. I'm insisting they give me a ticket for the 5:30, scheduled to leave at 5:47PM. They say it's full. I say I just talked to an agent on the phone and they say it's too late. I say let me try. They refuse me. So I instruct them that they get me a flight on a different airline.

They call Delta. The agent there quotes a price of $202. But they can't work the refunds and tickets between themselves. So I need to go purchase the ticket there. If I don't get this ticket or from another airline, I try standby for the last flight, an 8:30, or I get the first flight out on Saturday. I'll get a voucher for a free trip from Air Tran, but no hotel. So I go to Delta. When I mention the quoted $202, they look at me like I'm crazy. It's $488. My company is not going to pay that. So I break out the laptop and check farechase.com for my options.

Unless I make that 8:30 standby, there is no flights from BWI to BOS for less than $488. BUT, I can fly United from IAD(Dulles) at 9:40PM for $184. But now it's 6:15PM and I need to get to that airport. Nothing will get me there cheaply or quickly enough. Except for a rental car. So for $51 I get a nice rental and haul butt to IAD.

I get to IAD at 8:20PM. No traffic, I was lucky. Drop off the car and hop the shuttle. Then comes the Dulles experience. They drop us off at the curb. Then you have to walk 150 yards to the terminal, go upstairs to ticketing, walk to the far end to get to United, walk to the opposite end to get to security and then take a funky Jawa transporter looking pod to get to your concourse. Took 45 minutes to get from the car rental to my gate. Come to find out my ticket is for standby. I'm the last one on the plane.

So it's 10:30 and I'm about to pass out from dehydration. I had a coffee in the morning and a Diet Pepsi at noon when I gassed up. From then to the plane, I didn't stop with the changes and aggravation and improvising. I didn't even stop to get a drink anywhere. But at least I got back to Boston that night and slept in my own bed. But before I went to bed, I called Air Tran to cancel my seat for the morning flight. At the terminal, they said they would refund my credit card if I canceled. On the phone, they would only give me credit on a voucher.

So, in essence, I will be calling Air Tran because that voucher means NOTHING to me as I will never fly them. They had one flight cancel at BWI and they acted like the world was ending. They were flustered and treated us like garbage even when we were being understanding. These people would never have survived one day at JFK, ORD or DFW.

So I'd say Air Tran sucks the most, with New Jersey being second and Dulles a close third.

How's that for a long post? At least it was shorter than my day Friday.
 

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Well... sorry for learning the hard way, but in the summer time, the NJ Turnpike is the most heavily travelled road in the whole damn country, Fridays being the absolute worst time to be on there. Exit 8A is a trouble spot because the road merges from 5 lanes to three. 7A to 6 is horrible due to Six Flags, Trenton, and PA Turnpike traffic and exit 4 (or 3, I can't quite remember) can get dicey because it then goes from 3 lanes to 2. Usually around exit 6 or 7 it's easier to hop off and grab 295. Summertime is also a bear for the Delaware Memorial Bridge, being one of two bridges in the country the carries both an Interstate Highway (295) and a US Highway (40). I love where I live but I hate the summertime because 40 runs right through my town, it's nothing but a sea of Delaware and Maryland tags (hello??? you have beaches in your own states ya know!) and is a real headache. But from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to 95 south is an absolute mess, especially during rush hour and more so on a Friday. Had you taken 9, to 293, to 141, down Kirkwood Highway past Newark back on to 95 you could have shaved as much as 20-30 minutes off your trip (assuming you didn't hit too many red lights). Needless to say, welcome to my world in the summertime... although I rarely travel the turnpike and try to avoid Delaware at all costs. Either way... I can hardly wait for September!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Well... sorry for learning the hard way, but in the summer time, the NJ Turnpike is the most heavily travelled road in the whole damn country, Fridays being the absolute worst time to be on there. Exit 8A is a trouble spot because the road merges from 5 lanes to three. 7A to 6 is horrible due to Six Flags, Trenton, and PA Turnpike traffic and exit 4 (or 3, I can't quite remember) can get dicey because it then goes from 3 lanes to 2. Usually around exit 6 or 7 it's easier to hop off and grab 295. Summertime is also a bear for the Delaware Memorial Bridge, being one of two bridges in the country the carries both an Interstate Highway (295) and a US Highway (40). I love where I live but I hate the summertime because 40 runs right through my town, it's nothing but a sea of Delaware and Maryland tags (hello??? you have beaches in your own states ya know!) and is a real headache. But from the Delaware Memorial Bridge to 95 south is an absolute mess, especially during rush hour and more so on a Friday. Had you taken 9, to 293, to 141, down Kirkwood Highway past Newark back on to 95 you could have shaved as much as 20-30 minutes off your trip (assuming you didn't hit too many red lights). Needless to say, welcome to my world in the summertime... although I rarely travel the turnpike and try to avoid Delaware at all costs. Either way... I can hardly wait for September!
Well, I knew that Jersey traffic sucks. I got stuck back in June, heading to VIR, and it took me about 4 1/2 hours to get from the Tappan Zee to Harrisburg, mainly due to NY/NJ traffic.

I made it a point to try to leave early Friday morning so I could get through the NY/Philly corridor by noon. Like Cape Cod traffic, I guess you can never get there early enough.

I didn't look well enough at the map the night before. What I should have done was avoid the area completely and taken I-84 all the way out to Scranton and take I-81 to Harrisburg to I-83 towards Westminster. I never seem to fully realize that Harrisburg is almost due north of Baltimore.
 

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NJ is pretty nice once you get the hell out of NYC metro.
Right, I grew up in Upstate NY and it is real nice up there. I don't mind the City, but when you say NY that is what everyone thinks which of course is not the case.

I have flown on Air Tran once, lets just say that will be the last time they get my money.
 

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Look at the bright side of New Jersey. At least you can get off the Turn Pike and probably find a pretty good Diner or at least a good Sub sandwich!

I don't know, but for me that pretty much trumps -35 degrees F!
 

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Says the guy who lives in Missouri. Jersey sucks plain and simple. It didn't get the name of the arm pit of the country by accident.
Bucks County used to be nice, but be honest, these days how to you tell the difference between Bucks County and New Jersey?
 

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Never flown air tran, now I will avoid them completely.

Sounds like it would have been quicker to just jump in a rental car and drive home.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Never flown air tran, now I will avoid them completely.

Sounds like it would have been quicker to just jump in a rental car and drive home.
Yeah, I thought about that after the fact. But I would've had to drive to Boston and then get a ride back to my car at the client's mother's house. And then drive home. It would've been 2AM and driving ALL day when I wasn't really ready for it. I do have a friend in NYC where I could've stayed for the night, but eh. I don't know how much a rental car would've cost to drop it out of state.

But bottom line was I should've done everything over the phone, including checking the flight beforehand. I've made too many good moves and changes on the fly, over the phone, in the past, to nt have done it in this case...
 

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Makes sense.

Lesson learned...

One thing experiences like this have taught me is the more painful the experience the more likely I will remember next time it happens.

Just glad to hear it (kind of) worked out for you and you made it home.
 

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I'd like to go to South Jersey, if for nothing more than to meet what seems like half of the members on here.
 
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