A Few Reasons to Fly This Summer

Debating a trip this summer? Not sure whether to fly or drive? Check out this out. Some of these reasons to get off the couch and fly are excellent. Some are admittedly odd. All are fun.

1. Flying is fast

Some food for thought.

  • Normal walking pace: About 3 miles in an hour (depending on size, stride)
  • Covered wagons: It could take six months to cross the country (of course, if you’re interested in this mode of transport, finding a covered wagon might take longer than your journey – and you have to factor in oxen costs)
  • Horseback: 8-10 mph trotting, maybe 30 mph for galloping (though California Chrome is probably much faster)
  • Autos: You may find yourself zipping along the interstate at 80 mph but watch out for speed traps
  • Trains: About half of Amtrak’s trains can operate at 100 mph (or more) but of course, not all the time so a cross-country trip involves days not hours
  • Planes: Boeing says its new 737s can reach cruising speeds of up to 590 mph

2. Flying is safe

The National Safety Council – which amasses some pretty grim statistics – says your chance of dying in a car accident over a lifetime is 1 in 492; your chance of this in a plane is 1 in 8,357 (and this includes space accidents too).

3. Flying allows you to take a lot of stuff

No, you can’t take as much as you could fit in a car but flyers can arguably bring more than a backpacker can carry and two airlines give you at least 50 pounds of checked-baggage for free (JetBlue and Southwest).

4. Flying is educational

Perhaps you’ll learn about different cultures. Perhaps you’ll learn about unusual management techniques as you watch the TSA and gate agents put you through your paces. Perhaps you’ll learn something about psychology as you try to figure out who buys all those crazy gadgets in the SkyMall catalog – and why.

5. Flying is fun

You just never know when fellow passengers or crew members will dance in the aisles, or maybe you’ll get to witness an unruly passenger going nuts on a plane (actually, we hope not, but a global airline trade group says such incidents are now a “significant problem”). Or maybe you’ll pull out an electronic device to watch an entertaining movie in peace.

6. Flying can still be a deal

Look at this admittedly imperfect comparison of flying vs. driving which shows that, at least at times, flying can be cheaper.

This week, we saw a flight from Los Angeles to New York for $330 (round-trip in September). That’s a driving distance of 2,787. Now, let’s be generous and say your car gets 40 miles to the gallon which means you’ll need 69 gallons of gas for the drive, and let’s say you pay $4.00 per gallon (you will in Los Angeles!) for a total of $276 in gas. Here’s the tally so far:

  • Cross-country airline tickets: $330
  • Cross-country by automobile: $276

But not so fast! If driving solo, you’ll probably need two nights in a motel, so let’s say $50 per night ($100 total) so now flying is cheaper. And while you can do without food on a five-hour flight, that’s won’t work on a three-day drive so factor in meals. Yes, we know, this doesn’t include airport parking costs (have a friend take you) or baggage fees (use a carry-on), but we said this wasn’t a perfect comparison. And it is plausible.

Now get out there and have a good time – no matter how you travel to your vacation spot.

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Published: June 5, 2014