Monday, 24 March 2008

Never Jam Today

The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today.
Lewis Carroll

Trying to connect to my train next month is proving a maddening exercise.

The most logical solution would be to travel south-east for five hours and catch it at the closest station, in Montana. To do this, I would have to catch a bus to Seattle, then Butte, then Billings, then some form of donkey cart. The path resembles getting out of a car through the exhaust pipe.

My next option is to travel east within Canada, then south to Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota. This involves three buses, three provinces, and more than 24 hours' travel--before I even get to the Canadian-U.S. border.
This is all made more complicated by Greyhound Bus staff being bamboozled by the crossing of borders. Despite 80% of the Canadian population living within 100 miles of America, facilitating the trip seems beyond the imagination of many. (Of the staff at the video store, only half have ever been to America, and only two have been more than once. One went for business conferences, the other travelled with a carnival.)

The final option is to fly. U.S. airlines operate a byzantine system of connecting flights, whereby a two-stop, 18-hour trip is half the price of a direct flight. Even if you know for a fact that a direct flight exists, you often may only use it to connect to other places.
Thus, Minneapolis direct costs $368, while connecting in Minneapolis to get to Las Vegas costs $184.
It gets worse. You can connect to Chicago via Pittsburgh, and to Pittsburgh via Chicago, but flying direct on the same flight costs $200 more than either.
Airlines realise that customers realise this, and apply strict penalties to people trying to jump ship between flights. While it's difficult to imagine being forced on to a flight to Vegas at gunpoint, I certainly wouldn't be able to get through Customs at a connecting airport, even on a 8-hour layover.

The irony of all this is that I may end up going to Vegas to save money.

1 comment:

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