Air Travel in Smaller Planes Not Too Bad

Flew to Washignton State from California and back recently on Horizon Airlines, an affiliate of Alaska Airlines.

Horizon uses compact turboprops instead of full-blown jets. They are nimble, not as noisy or cramped as you might think, and the flight process was smooth from reservation to end of the trip.

Getting a seat is best done by consulting a great overall site, Kayak.com, which will search for you for the cheapest possible seat. From California to, say, Portland, Seattle or Spokane, Horizon always seems to be the best bet. In April, I booked a one-way to Spokane for about $125 and the return flight was $132.

Booking two one-ways has a bunch of advantages. First, it enables you to change that return flight if you have to. Second, it seems cheaper in some cases. The cheapest round trip I could find was $325.

Web check-in is fabulous. When you arrive at the airport, in this case Sacramento, you don’t have to mess with the long baggage check-in line. Instead, you enter the reservation number on your ticket into one of the terminals located right there at Alaska Airline, then deposit your bags in the Web Check-in Line, which is almost always vacant!

Airlines like using the Internet because it’s cheaper for them, and Alaska-Horizon passes that savings on down.

The Horizon turboprops definitely have a problem with turbulence, moreso than bigger jets, but seem to slice through it effectively enough, and the frame seems solid enough for a rough bashing without safety issues in the air.

Some stops are a necessary evil. For example, ny Sacramento-Spokane flight stopped in Boise, ID, and my return flight stopped in Portland. No big deal, fairly big savings and convenience.

Beats traveling by car and paying $3 a gallon for a 2,000-mile round trip.�¯�¿�½

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