I had to take the American Airlines flight from DFW to Austin last week. I would normally drive because it is only 3 hours but I had to fly this time as I am heading on to Boston from Austin. That led me to evaluate – “So is it worth it to fly 37 minutes or rather drive instead ?”
Arrival at DFW airport:
I arrived at DFW airport at about 12h30 on Saturday for my 14h30 flight. As I have said before I always plan to arrive 2 hours before flying as a precaution in case of traffic problems or delays at check-in or security. This experience was great. Priority check-in was just a few minutes and then bonus! No-one in the TSA-Pre line. From arriving at check-in to getting through security took me only about 5 minutes.
Off to the Capital One lounge:
Seeing as I was through so quickly my next move was naturally to catch the Sky Link train across to Terminal D and the Capital One lounge.
The lounge was rather busy today, Saturday at 12h45, so it took a moment to find a place to sit. Luckily I found a comfy seat at the window so I could sit and watch the planes taking off while drinking a cappuccino.
I am trying each of the cocktails on the menu, so today I had the BlueBonnet containing Lemon vodka, Apricot, Lemon sour, Texas wildflower honey, Butterfly tea float. A really interesting combination but it was rather sweet. Definitely tasty if you like a sweet drink, so I enjoyed it a lot.
Attached is a picture of my snacks on this visit. Always enjoyable to visit this lounge.
Boarding the aircraft:
I boarded the aircraft in Group 3 and sat at my normal seat at the window. American Airlines has 9 groups that passengers are divided into according to priority status and ticket price. My status gives me instant access to seating as soon as my ticket is booked so I am normally able to get a seat at the window near the front of the plane.
The safety card is its normal informative self, showing evacuation procedures and on board requirements.
I believe the seats near the front of the plane have enough leg room. I am 6 ft tall and am always comfortable on the 737.
Each seat has an electric plug which helps with laptops, tablets and phones.
The 37 minute flight:
The pilot did his pre-flight announcement and there it was. He announced that the flight would take 37 minutes and we would be flying at 20,000 feet. So no time for drinks to be served or a movie to be watched, just enough time to maybe watch one episode of a sitcom. The entertainment supplement listed all the movies that are available, maybe on a next flight I can find out about “A man called Otto”.
Before you knew it it was time to land. The landing was smooth and we trundled along to our gate. We walked up the ramp into the airport and at the gate I turned and saw that the plane would be boarding again in about 30 minutes for the return 37 minute flight to DFW airport. I could ask those passengers “So is it worth it to fly 37 minutes or rather drive instead?” too.
I wandered down the passage heading to the baggage area, passing the great chicken sandwich place on the left and the must-have barbecue place on the right. There is even a Joint chiropractic branch at Austin airport. Right at the end you go down a floor to the baggage area. There is an interesting display of guitar art on the carousels, all based on the importance of music to Austin.
We waited 15 to 20 minutes for our bags so that added to the flight duration.
Evaluation of the flight:
The American Airlines flight from DFW to Austin had only taken 37 minutes but I had spent 3 and a half hours from arriving at DFW to leaving Austin airport.
The positioning of the taxi, Lyft and Uber area at Austin airport does not help to make leaving smooth. You exit the main airport building, cross the busy streets, walk into the parking garage, go down a floor by elevator, then have more than 5 minutes walk through the garage, then cross the road to the next garage which has areas for each type of transport.
Whenever I work in San Antonio I normally drive, mainly so that I can stop in Lockhart – the barbecue capital of Texas. It is a 4 hour drive and that is similar to the time I would spend in the airports. So the 3 hour drive to Austin would have been easy. Of course I would also have had to pay $52 a night for 7 days for parking at our downtown hotel. The cost compared to the time saved makes it more difficult to decide.
There are positives and negatives associated with driving or flying so I will let you all make up your own minds about this flight.
So is it worth it to fly 37 minutes or rather drive instead ?
For an apples to apples comparison, you’d need to look at when you departed your house for your drive to the airport, and when you arrived at your hotel in Austin. I would bet the total flight time (incl the drive to the airport, security, lounge time, waiting to takeoff, etc), added up to 2 – 2.5 hours at least. Add in the variable of flight delays/issues, and I almost always drive. My personal threshold is right around 5-6 hour drives. Anything above that and I’ll consider flying. Anything less than that, and the likelihood of flight issues combined with… Read more »
I agree Colt, I also almost always drive. I also sometimes get a mileage allowance instead of the ticket expense so that also helps my decision.
I’m not sure when you usually do the DFW-SAT drive, but I live in SAT and drive to DFW every few months and stay off of I-35 as much as possible. The traffic is crazy, especially in the Austin-Round Rock area. It is usually a parking lot. When we do drive on I-35, we leave SAT around 0430 to make it through AUS before rush hour. I will take 281 now, it is longer, but a lot less stressful. And yes, I would fly the route over driving any day of the week, even with the extra time involved!!
Thank you for the comment Randy. Really clever of you leaving SAT so early. I normally try to be in Lockhart around lunch time, so leave DFW around 10.