Report on the Travel Companies of the 30 MLB Cities
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024) -After logging 65,000 miles from planes, trains, subways, Buses and other methods of transportation in one month, I am left with some thoughts about certain companies. I don’t believe in trashing a company based on one incident or a rogue employee, so I will leave the negativity for a future travel book. I will say that my four favorite travel companies helped me tremendously. I am not just saying this because they helped me out on my trip, I wrote about the same four companies in my book ‘The Fastest 30 Ballgames.’ I am also happy to say that these companies had no blame for the half of dozen mishaps that caused me cancellations or delays during the streak. The mishaps were a poorly executed plane de-boarding at IAH airport that cost a doubleheader attempt in Texas. The second plane issue was some sort of mechanical failure that the airline gave up after 30 minutes of trying only in San Diego. The worst blunder was having the seat belt of the first officer not close properly cause an hour delay. Other mishaps were a failure to understand car rental procedures right in Cleveland costing me an hour delay. But that wasn’t as egregious as a hotel chain overcharging me three separate time for a hotel booking even though I cancelled way in advance. All of these are about the average for the amount of traveling . The four companies that stood above the rest are: Southwest Airlines, Air Tran Airways, Best Western Hotel Chain and National Car Rental.
Southwest Airlines : Southwest were responsible for 18 of my 28 flights. They were the lifeline of the trip that I needed. When I had to change 5 flights after a night in San Diego, this airline did not have a change fees for me to alter my plans. Had it been other airlines that I needed to change with, we are talking about $750 worth of change fees. If I didn’t have the odd other airline mixed in here, I could have taken advantage of them also not having any baggage fees. This airline is moving light years ahead of the competition. It is a perfect approach for thee average traveler. They don’t have first class passengers. Everyone is assigned a general boarding letter and number. When your letter and number are called, you are able to board and pick up your own seat in the general seating. This process speeds up the boarding process exponentially. The gate waiting area of every Southwest area in all of the airports has been recently renovated and modernized. Each gate features electronic work station with all the amenities one needs for the modern traveler. I was even able to save two future flight coupons after cancelling two flights. I am able to redeem these on future flights(again with no extra fees.)
Air Tran Airways_: I only had 4 flights from this company but there are the most MLB friendly to fly on. Each flight carries free XM, which of course featured XM Baseball and the signature MLB Home Plate Station that talks baseball 24/7/365. Air Tran Airways is better suited for the Eastern Seaboard then the West based on strong hub airports like LGA, Atlanta and Milwaukee. The best part about Air Tran Airways are the planes are the newest with it being a relatively new airline still. The seats seem wider. They also have many non-stop flights without silly little layovers. Flights generally start at just about $100. This airline always gives deals the further in advance you can buy the ticket.
Best Western Hotels: I stayed in hotels with the Best Western if Ft. Lauderdale, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Cleveland and Dallas. The Plus Suites were amongst the most comfortable I have been in. The continental breakfasts were usually of the hot variety, thus meaning pancakes, sausages, scrambled eggs and hash browns. The business centers afforded me the opportunity to write catch up on the internet. Also, the centers all had printers which was ultra important for me to print off tickets I purchased on Stubhub or Ticket Master. I was even upgraded at two of the hotels when their was a small mishap at the time of check-in. I am all for customer service if they recognize a mistake by offering up compensation in return. The suite I stayed near the Tampa International Airport was the best room I have ever stayed in. It was only a shame I had to leave so soon. These hotels are always clean, the staff is always friendly and completely personable. They are also quick to contact you should anything change. I appreciate the effort these guys always put forth.
National Car Rental: I saved the best for last. I have rented from National Car Rental for the last two years consecutively at home. I rent cars for 365 days a year while working. The cars are always the newest out of any car rental. As an Executive Elite Member(you qualify with 25 rentals in a year or 85 days aggregate) I receive a free car rental for every 4 credits I come up with. This means I am able to receive a lot of free days in one year based on what I do. I am able to use the free car rentals at any of the US locations and save a pile of money on car rentals. National Car Rental is the only car rental company that really means ‘free car rental’ day.
They don’t pile a bunch of subsidiary taxes from each city that can equate to it being not so free anymore. They only charge the equivalent of a cleaning tax. Not only this. National Car Rental offers a waiver on a one way drop-fee. I used this option 8 different times on my baseball trip. These fees alone would have amounted to well over $1000. An example of this is I rented a car in Minnesota and dropped it off at O’ Hare Airport in Chicago for a grand total of $3.64. I was able to rent a car in Cleveland and drop it off in New York city for under $10. Not only this, these are cars that I picked out of the ‘Executive Selection’ Aisle at the airports. I picked any car off the lot I wanted to. This saves time and effort on your part. My profile is stored and I am out of each of these places in no time flat. The rental in Cleveland was a gorgeous Blue Dodge Charger with only 3800 Miles on it. This company always has last-minute weekend deals that can help you accrue this free days easier. For the Canadian readers here, you can even cash in Air Miles for free rental days with National/Alamo in the USA from 175-250 Air Miles. Look for future blogs with a complete list. If you are an American reader, you will also want to read this future blog as I will tell you how you can have a Canadian friend transfer their Air Miles to you for free days. So this was the resurrection of the Friday Travel Article series, please come back every week for more and don’t be afraid to tell your friends about it!
National Car Rental Executive Aisle Fleet-I love picking my own car!
***Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Douglas “Chuck” Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports. To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book please click here ***
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Posted on May 11, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged Air Miles, Air Tran Airways, Alamo, Atlanta, baseball road trip, Best Western Hotel, chicago, Chuck Booth, Cleveland, Dallas, executive elite status, executive selection, fastest thirty ballgames, Fort Lauderdale, iah, LGA, milwaukee, Minnesota, National Car Rental, new York, O hare airport, oakland, San Diego, Southwest Airlines, Tampa Bay, texas, xm radio. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.