The United States is a massive country and getting across it is no mean feat. There are many options for travellers in the US, but choosing the method of transportation is highly dependant on the overall goals of the traveller. There are four main types of travellers, and each of them has unique solutions to their travel needs.

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I was scheduled on a flight from Denver to IAD on July 22. Two hours before the flight was scheduled to take off, the flight was cancelled. I was already at the airport and needed to get home. The airline handed out a piece of paper that said passengers could either be refunded what they paid for their ticket or purchase a new one on another airline and would be reimbursed. I purchased a ticket on United Airlines for $572. I called customer service to tell them the number I put in was not working for my reimbursement. . The first customer service rep offered to give me a refund- I do not live in Denver so this did not help me get home. How it ended- I spent $562 of my money for a flight that was NOT cancelled due to weather. In 4-6 weeks the airline is supposed to reimburse me. In order to compensate me for having to wait a month to get my $562 back they gave me a $50 voucher. What? Why is it legal to make a customer pay over $500 of their own money and not pay them back for a month or longer? No hotel option was given and the flight was not cancelled due to weather.Please do not fly Frontier let them go out of business. That's what they deserve.
Our flight, #1567, was supposed to leave yesterday at 9:54am, nonstop from ATL to SJC. So we got up early and to ATL by 8am. The plane was delayed repeatedly, and all finally boarded after 4pm. They replaced one tire on the front landing gear before boarding. Then we sat on the tarmac for about an hour when they found another problem. At that point the flight was canceled.The Frontier policy for this situation would not cover an alternative flight on a different carrier without significant additional costs. So we booked the next available path on Frontier again. But this meant not one but two more nights before the trip, including a required stop in Denver. It was well after 8pm before ATL hotel vouchers were available, and no vouchers for meals etc. The next leg isn’t until after 9pm the next day, and Frontier customer service tells me that vouchers for the now required stay in Denver are at the discretion of the airport ticket agents - and Atlanta agents already said they can’t give vouchers for Denver. That means perhaps more forced costs on us, and definitely more wasted time. Frontier Airlines did not deliver what we paid for, and it is costing many people dearly.
We flew Delta from Springfield, MO to our connecting flight 1905 in Atlanta, GA, and then to our destination in Orlando, FL on July 5, 2018. We’ve had problems with Delta in the past but this experience was bad enough to where when we fly next year to Spokane, WA, I would rather change flights three times with another airline rather than give any more of my money to Delta.We’ve always been told to show up at the airport several hours before departure. When we showed up at the Delta check-in desk in Springfield, MO, there was no one at the counter at 3:55 AM. My wife looked for someone from Delta while I stayed with the bags. She found someone from Delta walking around the terminal & asked if she could send someone to the desk, as we were there and so were about 6 other people. She said she would but no one showed. A few minutes later, she knocked on a cipher-locked door that the employee disappeared behind earlier and someone answered & said they were in the middle of some sort of “debriefing”. By now, it was 4:25 and this person said the desk should’ve opened at 4 AM!! Apparently showing up at the airport when told is a waste of time since you have no employees there to help your CUSTOMERS anyway.Another problem we encountered was on the connecting flight from Atlanta, GA to Orlando FL. My wife and I decided to treat ourselves to flying First Class for the first time. This was for the entire trip to MO and home. Turns out, it was a WASTE of our money. Our flight attendant “Valerie” asked us if we wanted something to drink – I’d asked for orange juice, my wife asked for Sprite. We never received our drinks or another visit from Valerie, and frankly we shouldn’t have to beg her or remind her for what we ordered – especially when she was the one who asked us. Plus, we were “treated” to a screaming 3-year-old in the seats across from us. Anytime the pilot made an announcement – which cuts off the audio on the in-flight entertainment system – she’d scream (and I mean LITERALLY scream!) in protest, then cry. Not only did “Valerie” NOT try to intervene, she kept bringing the kid and her mother drinks. Would’ve been nice if we even got ONE drink. Can’t help but wonder that in today’s world if color had anything to do with it, as Valerie is African-American and so was the mother and her screaming kid. Plus we were watching Fox news, so I’m wondering if she had us figured for republicans and decided we weren’t worthy of her attention. The way things are in this country today, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.We paid for First Class expecting to be treated better than “comfort economy” or coach. As it turns out, we were treated worse. Besides the inexcusable service we received, we expected a quieter, more relaxing flight. Again, it was just the opposite. We were more aggravated and stressed when we landed than when we took off. I’d like to know WHY small children are allowed in First Class to begin with – why should people who pay a premium for better seating and overall treatment be subjected to a screaming child with a parent (AND flight attendant) who couldn’t care less??!!! I’ve heard numerous times about incidents where airlines actually DO something about unruly kids so they don’t disrupt others, but apparently Delta has no such policy or procedure in place for this.As I said, we will be travelling again next summer but switching planes 3 times is more appealing than flying Delta. We tried to give Delta “one more try” but what a mistake that was, especially since we wasted a LOT more money for the “First” Class experience. At this point, the thought of being dragged off of a United Airlines flight is more appealing than flying Delta again. We’re done since this is the worst in a series of problems we’ve had with them in several years.

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Transportation for Every Type of Traveller

The United States is a massive country and getting across it is no mean feat. There are many options for travellers in the US, but choosing the method of transportation is highly dependant on the overall goals of the traveller. There are four main types of travellers, and each of them has unique solutions to their travel needs.

How to Decide which Type of Traveller you Are

Before taking a trip, it is important to know which kind of traveller you are. Depending on the goals of your trip, your travel needs and options will change.

Figure Out the Basics

  1. Decide what your goal is. Are you travelling for leisure, for business, or for another reason?
  2. Where are you going? Are you travelling to a neighboring region, a city in another state, or to an international destination?
  3. Be realistic about your timeline. Do you have the time to take a road trip, or do you need to get to your end location as soon as possible?
  4. Plan your budget. Creating a budget involves deciding three major things:

  • The amount of money you will need for travel arrangements.
  • The amount of money you can comfortably budget on activities.
  • The amount of money you can spend on spontaneous choices.

The Most Common Types of Travellers and their Modes of Transport

The vacationer: Often the vacationer does not have a strict timeline to work with, depending on the goals of the vacation. If you are travelling for the joy of travelling, you might consider taking some of the more novel modes of transportation.

  • Taking a speed train is fun. Commercial passenger trains often have dining cars, sleeping rooms, and comfy seats. Depending on how long you will be on the train, you can take advantage of all of these amenities. Watching the great American scenery fly by from the window of a train car is a thing of beauty.
  • Bus travel is an experience. Riding a bus for long distances will introduce you to interesting people. Bus riders tend to be on limitless time frames and don’t mind stopping often to load and unload passengers. There are express busses across country, but more regional busses will stop off at numerous stations, giving riders a chance to visit places they likely would never go otherwise.
  • Cruising across the water is like being on a floating hotel. River boats and ocean cruises are popular methods of travel for vacationers. Travelling by boat offers resort amenities, all you can eat buffets, and stop at exotic destinations.
  • Driving offers flexibility. Travellers looking to see the country and move around at their own pace will love a road trip. Usually, road-trippers take their personal vehicles, load up their belongings, get some great road tunes and snacks and put the pedal to the metal. This method requires mapping out a loose itinerary to keep drivers on track.

The business traveller: People who travel for business are on tight timeframes and have very specific destinations in mind. Generally, they are seeking the most convenient form of transportation.

  • Air travel is the quickest and most economic way of covering large distances.
  • The automobile is the most reliable means of travelling from place to place, and getting around once a traveller arrives. For shorter business trips, driving might be the best way to get from a to b. Since most places in the US are automobile dependant, travellers will need a car to get around their destination, anyway.
  • For some business trips, speed trains are possible. Railway connectivity is low in the US, but major cities on the East Coast still have direct trains.

The one way-tripper: These travellers are moving from place to place. In general, they move themselves and their stuff.

  • Moving trucks are not the best ride, but they are the best way to move things. For people moving to a new city, renting a moving truck and driving it is a popular, cost effective choice.
  • Fly the people, ship the stuff. There are moving services that will deliver customer’s belongings for them. Usually, the person moving will have to be there for the truck loading, and then will meet the movers at the final destination for unloading. This option works well if a person needs to arrive as soon as possible for a new job or other obligation.
  • Sometimes, leaving the stuff behind is the only option. In these cases, bus travel, car travel, and air travel are equally viable, depending on the time table the traveller is working with.

The international traveller: Travellers who are leaving the country have options, depending on where they are going. No matter the reason for the trip, travellers with international destinations will be limited to a few modes of transport.

  • Car travel to Canada or Mexico: For US travellers looking to visit the other North American countries, it is possible to drive across the border.
  • Airplane travel will get travellers to the most places. Since the US takes up most of its continent, travelling internationally generally entails leaving that continent. The best way to traverse oceans is via airplane.
  • Ocean Cruises are available for some locations. These cruises are part of the vacation though, so travellers who are looking to visit a specific city internationally will not find these appropriate.

How to Compare Means of Transport

If taking a trip, it is important to look at the options. Make sure you compare transport companies, as well as general transport methods.

  • The most common method of travel is airline travel, mostly due to the cost and time efficiency that airplanes offer. Airlines also offer high connectivity of destinations.
  • Bus travel offers regional routes at lower cost, but is of limited usefulness for cross country trips. Cross country bus trips can take anywhere from 20 to 36 hours one way, and don’t offer much in the way of savings over air travel. Regional travel, on the other hand, can be as low as $15 dollars one way, from major city to city.
  • Train connectivity is low in the US, but trains offer novelty. Train travel from major city to major city can be cost effective and relaxing. Some major metropolitan areas have local trains and commuter rail services, which are widely used.
  • Cruise liners are reserved for special vacation circumstances. Cruises are more like travelling hotels than they are modes of transport.
  • There are regional ferries in coastal and river areas that ease local travel conditions. For travel to island destinations, sometimes this is the only method. Ferries are often cheaper than small flights, and don’t take much longer depending on the destination. An added bonus is that passengers will be able to drink in the sea air from the ferry deck.
  • Ridesharing and taxi services are great for people who don’t own cars, but need to get around. Very few US cities are “walkable” and many of them lack reliable and regular public transportation. Calling a rideshare or cab is a great alternative to renting a car.
  • Auto rentals are for travellers who don’t own their own car locally, or at all, but still need to flexibly get around. Having the ability to drive wherever and whenever is desired is a huge bonus.

How to Save on Booking Travel Tickets

Once you have decided what kind of traveller you are and which form of transport best fits your needs, it is time to book tickets.

  1. Third party travel booking websites offer flights, car rentals and hotel bookings from a variety of vendors. Usually, you can use these sites to compare and book your tickets.
  2. Professional travel agencies offer another level of service. If you are feeling overwhelmed by making your own plans, you can have an agent create an itinerary and book your tickets for you. Check out some of the travel company reviews to narrow down the best travel company for your trip.
  3. Vendor specific websites for bus, train, and airplane tickets are another option. Travellers can go straight to the source for the clearest offering of tickets a specific vendor has. It might be worth comparing for the best reviewed airlines in the business.

Travel Deals

  1. Always rate shop. Most of the time, you will be able to find different itineraries with similar timeframes. WIth a little internet sleuthing, you should be able to find the lowest price for the schedule that closest meets your needs. There are often cheap flight deals offered by major airlines.
  2. If you can handle it, travel when most people don’t. Taking flights and busses overnight tends to be cheaper, because those tickets are less in demand.
  3. Travel miles rewards cards are a good way of accruing deals on travel. If you can get a credit card that offers travel reward points, try using it to pay for your monthly incidentals. Pay off the balance each month to avoid paying interest, and rack up the travel miles.
  4. If you have time, waiting for a bus promotion could be worth it. Sometimes, bus companies offer cheap bus ticket deals, like “Get to Any City for $69.00.” The catch is, of course, that these tickets are rarely direct or express.
  5. Train companies often offer enticing travel packages, in an effort to boost customers. For a novel and affordable experience, consider looking into some of the deals offered by major train operators.

What Consumers Are Saying about Travel Companies

Each method of transportation has its issues. Some common transport company complaints across all ticketed travel methods are:

  • Baggage problems
  • Customer service complaints
  • Seating issues
  • Cramped and crowded conditions
  • Delayed service and missed connections
  • Refused boarding of support animals
  • Hidden fees

Some common consumers’ praise comes in the areas of:

  • Reliability
  • Connectivity to a wide range of areas
  • Ease of booking
  • Scheduling options
  • Entertainment options like WiFi, in transit movies, and radio.

The best airlines and the best bus services are measured by how well they address each of these. Reading transport company reviews before purchasing a ticket can help offer insight on which company to choose.

Travellers will need to decide what their overall goals of taking their trip are. Once they know what kind of traveller they are, figuring out which mode of transportation to take becomes a breeze. Vacationers, business travellers, and one-way trippers all have different needs, and therefore different options for making their trips a success. No matter what, a traveller who prepares themselves by doing their research and creating a reasonable itinerary, budget, and travel plan is sure to have a great trip.