2009-03-01

Planes and automobiles, OR V6 >> jet engine

Yesterday I had a chance to stage my own version of the car v. jet plane race.

I was out of town for a little vacation, and the flight to my destination went pretty well: departed and arrived on time, and what else can you expect from an airline nowadays anyway?

The flight back turned out to be somewhat of an adventure.

I got to the airport early, only to discover that my evening flight was canceled, the later flight was full, and that I was scheduled to fly back to RDU the next morning.

Seeing that I was less than thrilled over the prospect of spending close to 18 hours at a cheap airport hotel, the dude at the customer service desk said that he could put me on a flight to Charlotte and I could drive home from there.

The way I drive, the drive to Charlotte is about 2 hours, so I enthusiastically agreed. On top of getting me on my way home, the customer service guy gave me a complimentary upgrade to business class, because that was the last open seat on the plane. The flight was leaving in about 40 minutes, and arrived in Charlotte still before dark.

In-flight I enjoyed the spacious seats, snacks, and a gin-and-tonic. Even had a little nap. The seats didn't recline far enough to get past the first nodding-off stage, so I would wake up each time from the feeling of my head dropping to my chest.

Once in Charlotte, I went to the first staffed car rental counter and the nice lady set me up with a car. I requested that she give me the a "standard" car, with real-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive if RWD is not an option. The smaller, the better. And no SUVs please if at all possible!

She nodded and handed me a contract for a one-way rental of a Chevy Trailblazer.

Wow. Speaking of exceeding customer expectations...

I took the shuttle to the rental parking lot, and asked the agents there to give me something else. From the shuttle taking me there I saw a Mustang, being close to the most interesting car they had on the lot. "I CAN HAZ STANG PLZ?"

The gentleman obliged, and a few minutes later, I was cruising down the highway in a red Mustang. It had a slushbox transmission of course, and no iPod interface, but it had a V6 engine and cruise control, and it was small enough that I knew where I was on the road, and that was just alright with me for the next two hours.

In the end, I arrived at the RDU airport just an hour later than my original canceled flight would have, before the later flight on the same day would have even taken off, and certainly before the next-day flight.

Not bad for a V6, huh?