As some people know, Laura and I had been planning on taking advantage of her flight benefits and going to Brazil this summer. Apparently, airline employees can purchase tickets on carriers other than their own for deep discounts (basically for the tax on a regular fare, so two one way tickets to Brazil was in the $300 range).
Anyway, to execute this plan, we flew from Salt Lake City to JFK airport in New York City Thursday night. It was the first time I actually flew standby on Jet Blue (Laura’s employer) so I was pretty pleased.
My pleasure, however was short lived. First, our flight was delayed so we missed our first possible connection to Rio De Janeiro. Then, every single other flight was full. (When airline employees are flying on the cheap with other carriers they’re going standby and are on the bottom of the list.)
To make a long story short, we didn’t get a seat on any flights all day or night Friday. In fairness, there aren’t a lot of flights, but we were still stuck. We made the most of our time by going into Manhattan to see an urban planning exhibit at the MOMA, checking out a ghost subway station, and walking around a bit. (Unfortunately, because we were still trying to get on flights we didn’t have much time to actually sight see in New York or see any friends, so flying standby sort of screwed us in that regard as well.)
By Friday night we, we were realizing that Brazil was apparently very difficult to reach. And because I don’t get much time off from work at the newspaper, we were burning up precious days off.
So we made a decision to go somewhere else. Sometime around midnight we were sitting in the Jet Blue terminal at JFK and we made a list or everywhere in the world we wanted to go.
The list included all sorts of places: Scandinavia, Istanbul, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Poland, Eastern Europe, various south American cities, etc. We eliminated some places (Cambodia, Argentina) because we figured it would be a waste to visit them without doing any research. Others (Dubai) seemed too hot. And we couldn’t go anywhere that required a visa, of course. We also considered flying to Canada and taking a train across the country so we could stay in all the ultra grand rail hotels, or renting a car and doing a new England road trip.
After checking flight loads and our chances of actually reaching our destination, we settled on Spain. We were disappointed to give up on Brazil, but Spain was also a good alternative because it was one of the places we regrettably missed during our big Euro-Brazilian trip in 2010 (see all other posts on this blog). Another reason Spain worked well for us was because, due to our previous trip, we felt comfortable attempting to navigate things like public transit in a European city without much research or background; if we could show up and figure out Rome (not to mention more navigationally complex Brazilian cities) we should be able to do the same in Madrid.
Whether that actually happens, however, remains to be seen. As I write this, Laura and I are in the back of an Iberian Airlines jet (that is 90 percent filled with teenagers, by the way. It’s not a fun flight.)
We’re spending the flight reading travel books we bought earlier Friday in Union Square, and then we’re going to try to tackle the best of Spain in two weeks. If you’re interested, check back in the next few days to see how it’s going.
(Also, I wrote this post on my iPod Touch during a turbulent flight. Apologies for the typos.)