Points, Miles & Life

Travel adventures on this earthly pilgrimage

Category: Local (page 1 of 2)

Au Revoir, Pen Air: Humboldt is Again Stuck with ONE Airline

In a depressing move, PenAir notified our local Arcata-Eureka Airport that they will no longer be flying the ACV-PDX route. And they are dropping it fast. The last flight will be this coming Monday.

This leave us with just United Airlines as our only commercial option (yet again). Getting out from behind the redwood curtain just got a bit harder.

PenAir’s reason for leaving

It seems to be impossible for our area to keep a reasonable amount of commercial air service. My first guess when hearing the news was that the route wasn’t particularly profitable due to the rural nature of our area. The single flight I took on PenAir to Portland didn’t have that high of a load factor (SEE: The Pacific Northwest Stopover “Trick”). However, the United flights I’ve been on are almost always very full (and very expensive).

Turns out that the economics of the route had nothing to do with PenAir’s decision to axe it. The program director for the Humboldt County Aviation Division called the route “very successful”. So what is the problem?

Airlines need pilots

PenAir, like other regional airlines, is suffering from a pilot shortage. Horizon Air (another regional airline that flies under Alaska’s wing) had to cut some flights due to their pilot shortage in June. Pilots are retiring by the hundreds per week, and we can’t seem to fill the ranks with new talent fast enough.

PenAir actually cut all non-essential air service routes in the lower 48 states. This means you can still fly to Portland from Crescent City (an EAS airport) on PenAir, although for most of Humboldt County this is roughly a 2 hour drive north. Hardly ideal. Might as well drive to SFO.

Conclusion

This is sad news for Humboldt. I really liked the new little airline we acquired last year, and had hoped to fly them again. I’ll continue to hold out hope that we will pick up a new option. Three flights per day on United is hardly much of an option (plus they break guitars).

I want to add that if you’re young and considering a career, consider becoming a pilot. The investment isn’t all that much different than a moderately expensive university, but the demand for your skills will not be going away anytime soon. The world will need 637,000 new pilots by 2036 to fill the projected increase in air travel. North America will need 117,000 of those. Airline pilots make good wages, so the multi-year investment should be entirely worth it.

Join Me for a Second Travel Hacking Seminar!

Back in March I offered a free seminar to friends and family (SEE: Reserve a Seat at the First Humboldt Travel Hacking Seminar). A few people asked me if I would hold a second one, and the answer was “most likely yes.” Originally, I had hoped to plan a second one during early May. Although that window has now come and gone, I have now arranged it for early June. Here are the details:

  • Date: Monday, June 5, 2017
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (might run long…last time did)
  • Venue: Ferndale Pizza Company (607 Main Street, Ferndale)
  • Format: Presentation will run about 90 minutes, then Q&A (as well as some Q&A mixed in).
  • Other: Hopefully we’ll have refreshments like last time (cookies and coffee/water)!

The seminar is free, not because the info isn’t valuable, but I don’t want to charge for a starter-level event like this. I really enjoy helping people save money on travel!!

Please *do* RSVP via this link, if you’re planning on attending. Please feel free to contact me with any questions before the event.

Hope to see you all there!!

So close, yet so far

Last week my wife and I were returning from a wonderful 5 night getaway in Banff and Calgary, Alberta. Banff National Park is spectacular, even in shoulder season when there is lingering snow and cool temperatures (SEE: Banff, Alberta in 14 photos).

Our travel plans home included a midday non-stop flight to SFO out of Calgary on United, and then a 5.5 hour drive home back up the coast.

Flying 1,000 miles? No problem

Our flight was uneventful, and we landed in San Francisco just in time to catch the rush hour traffic headed north.

After fighting our way through Santa Rosa, the road finally opened up. We started counting down the final 3 hours of our drive, anticipating being home in our lovely apartment around 10:00 p.m.

Driving 270 miles? A bit more difficult

We got as far as Leggett, only to be stopped by a “Road Closed” sign. A CalTrans worker soon informed us that a problematic hillside had decided to fall into the road again, and 101 was completely closed. The road had just opened from the previous slide the day before. Shoulda figured it would slip again. *Sigh.* Back to Willits we’ll go.

Willits, the closest town to where we got turned around, is only about 100 miles from where we live. Because the road was closed at the worst pinch point possible, there was no easy to way to just drive around.

Many of you who are locals understand the major issues we’ve had this winter, as 101 has seen multiple closures. When 101 is closed at Leggett, you only have 2 options:

  1. Take a local dirt and gravel road that is not intended for a large amount of traffic (and by all accounts has been brutalized this winter)
  2. Drive 7 hours around, which is over 3 times what the drive *should* take!

Because we drive a minivan and not a 4×4 pickup, the only reasonable option was the latter.

The long way home

We spent the night at the Super Duper Pooper 8 in Willits, basically just sleeping and showering.  The next morning we hit the road at 7:00, headed south to take Highway 20 over to I5. By a little after 9:00 we had reached the valley. An hour later we made a pit stop in Red Bluff before heading back over the mountains.

The last few hours were the worst, as we drove winding highway 36. The road has taken a beating this year, as so many people have had to drive around the closures on highway 101.

Finally, we arrived home a little after 1:00. I literally headed straight to the office and into a meeting, arriving at 1:30 on the dot.

Will this ever get better?

Honestly, this sort of thing has become par for the course when we travel. Some situation *always* seems to present itself that we have to work around.

I just have to resign myself to the fact that getting in and out of Humboldt will never be an easy proposition. Yet I still seem to convince myself that one of these times things will be different.

Header image courtesy of CalTrans. 

Tour and/or ride in vintage WWII planes in Humboldt this June!

Do you love aviation? Would you enjoy getting up close and personal with vintage aircraft? Then this event is for you.

The Collings Foundation is bringing the Wings of Freedom Tour to the Arcata-Eureka Airport over June 12 through 14, 2017. The tour features vintage aircraft, including a B24 Liberator and the renowned B17 “Flying Fortress” of World War II. A P-51C Mustang was also recently added to the lineup.

Tickets for the event cost $15 for adults and $5 for children (12 and under). Walk through tour times are as follows:

  • 6/12/2017 – 1:00 PM till 5:00 PM
  • 6/13/2017 – 9:00 AM till 5:00 PM
  • 6/14/2017 – 9:00 AM till 12:00 PM

No reservations are needed. The address of the event location puts it across the road from the airport.

You can also book a short flight in some the aircraft, but it is very pricey. A 30-minute flight in one of the bombers starts at $450 per person. A training flight in the Mustang will run you $2,200 to $3,200. But if you’re made of cash, you can reserve a flight spot by calling (978) 562-9182.

Info about the Sponsor

The Collings Foundation specializes in providing “living history” events that allow Americans to learn about our nation’s history through direct interaction with historical artifacts. To find out more about the Wings of Freedom Tour and the Collings Foundation, head to their website.

If I’m in town (and not in Costa Rica with my wife to adopt our kids), I definitely plan to go to this event.

H/T: Fly Humboldt

Points with a Crew SF Meetup Recap

Yesterday evening I met up with Dan Miller of Points with a Crew (PWaC) and a bunch of travel hackers from the Bay Area. The event was also promoted by Grant Thomas who also writes a BoardingArea blog, aptly named Travel with Grant.

We met at the Staybridge Suites in San Bruno, which is where Dan and his family are staying through tomorrow. They are enjoying SF today and will fly back home to Cincinnati early tomorrow morning.

The meetup was a great two hours. We talked miles and points, shared about upcoming trips, discussed reselling and credit card churning, and grumbled about the SF Bay Area MS scene (or difficulty thereof). A few people were pretty new to the travel hacking game, and it was great to give them suggestions on how to best earn or burn miles. There were nearly 20 people, and most stayed through 9:00 p.m. when my wife and I took off.

Some people were surprised that we had traveled that far just for the event. I realized later I forgot to explain to almost all of them that I write for PWaC. That probably would have helped them understand why we drove the 5 hours from Ferndale.

It was great to meet Dan, and great to meet some readers in the Bay Area. I’ve been writing for PWaC for 3.5 months now, so it was about time I got to meet the guy who recruited me.

The one bummer was that the two other writers, Sam and Sharon, were unable to attend. Sharon lives close on the peninsula, but she had other obligations. Sam is across the country in New York, so it was understandable he couldn’t make it.

Future meetups?

Dan has organized a few local meet-ups for Cincinnati folks, and I think he has done a couple others in the past. He has also spoken at a couple conferences, including Family Travel for Real Life. I’m actually hoping to go to that conference this year in May if the timing works out.

While I didn’t advertise this meet-up (thinking it’d be a bit far for many people), I’ll definitely advertise any events in the future.

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