This past weekend, I tried a new way to travel to Philadelphia to see my younger daughter. Our small regional airport now offers twice daily, non-stop American Eagle Shuttle flights⎯and so far, for a reasonable price. The airport is ten minutes from my home, as opposed to an hour-plus drive to Logan in Boston or other regional airports. And the flight itself takes less than an hour, as opposed to a slightly longer flight from Boston or
a six-hour drive.
So, worth the experiment. The plane is small, as in one row of single seats on the left, and double seats on the right. Cozy, to say the least. There is also no room in the overhead compartments for regular wheeled carry-on luggage. But they offer you a valet check
for your bag.
This is a great option for me, because it means that you leave your bag at the end of the flight bridge before boarding and retrieve it on the tarmac in Philly (process is reversed for the return flight). It’s great because (a) I don’t have to hassle with asking someone to put my bag overhead since I can’t do it myself, (b) I don’t have to pay a baggage check fee and (c) retrieval is quick and easy (no waiting at the baggage claim conveyor belt and dragging my bag off before it moves away, also a challenge for my hands).
The other advantage of the small plane: being able to sit by myself in a single seat on the left. While I didn’t need to get up during the short flight, I could easily have done so. And I had the window, too. Best of both worlds.
Recently, when traveling alone, I’ve been stepping up to the gate counter when they ask for volunteers to place bags inside the plane because the flight is too full for everyone’s carry-ons to fit overhead. I get a free checked bag, and since the claim-check is given at the gate, there’s significantly less chance of my bag getting misplaced. I may have to wait at baggage claim to retrieve my carry-on, but it makes boarding and deplaning (who came up with that word?) much easier on my hands.
The only disadvantage of flying from my local airport is no TSA Pre-check. The airport is just too small. So I have to go through the rigamarole of shoes and liquids and all that. But since the airport is so small, there’s virtually no TSA line, and the agents are more patient and friendly. The same was actually true for my evening flight back from the shuttle terminal at Philadelphia International (though the TSA agents were gruffer). It takes me longer than most to put all my stuff in the bins and move it to the conveyor belt, so it’s nice to avoid all the pressure of hustling because others are waiting in line.
So, here’s to regional airports and shuttle flights! It’s not always an option, but if you can, there are some genuine advantages that ease some of the physical and mental stress of travel. Oh, and the flight was a breeze.