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Fly vs Drive: Break even point

FBGM

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Unless your spending a season out west you’re a moron to drive for a short trip

Flights are cheap and easy. You could take a Friday off work - round trip to SLC and ski 2-3 days and fly back and be at work Monday morning.
 

Bandit2941

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Shit, wish I would've waited to book. Booked a flight 4/4 to Denver leaving Scranton, an hour from home, for $480, it is now $200! Oh well, at least I'm using rewards points, so it isn't out of pocket. Now I just hope my trip isn't scrubbed due to the outbreak. Just checked prices for flying out of Binghamton, and for some reason it is $1,000. Hard to believe the difference is $800 from flying out of Scranton.

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Same thing with our 4/5-4/12 to Denver out of Albany on southwest. It was 30k points or $460. Now it’s 20k points or $315. Nice thing about southwest and using points is they return the points to you if you rebook. For my friends that paid cash they get a travel credit to be used within a year.
 

jimk

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FBGM, you are generally correct about the appropriateness of driving west only for longer trips. However, I personally do not like the kind of weekend trips you suggest, and always advise friends and family against them if they have a little extra vacation time. For those who are in great ski shape, never suffer altitude effects, and are age 27 those quickie western trips can work. But I see a lot of burnt cookies out west, particularly at high altitude Colorado resorts, who feel like crap due to altitude their first two days, have sore muscles on their third day, and then take a red eye flight and I'm sure feel even worse back home on Monday morning:lol:

A couple things I could add about all my drives from DC to CO/Rockies:
- I never did the drive for less than 5 ski days; e.g., drive Sat and Sun, ski M-F, drive Sat and Sun. And often those trips included another day for a rest day during the middle of the week.
- I often was accompanied by one or more family members who I was sponsoring, meaning it wasn't just a single air fare I was avoiding paying. This makes the gas costs vs. flight costs a little closer. Also, seems to me air fares a few years back were generally a little more expensive than in recent years compared to folks average incomes.
- Several of my short duration western drive trips occurred over Holiday periods when air fares were highest and some I decided to do on only a couple weeks notice when air fares can be higher when purchased two weeks before flight dates.
- About a dozen of my drives occurred before I bought my first 4wd vehicle in 2013. And I got away with minimal changes to my driving and vehicle habits or costs. Remember, I live in DC area most of the year.
- There has been only one trip that was moderately effected by snowy road closures. In early Jan of 2011 my son and I drove from DC area to SLC. Sharing the driving, We had planned to make it to SLC in two days, but got stopped in Rawlins, WY due to a closure of I80 because of blowing snow and low visibility. We planned to ski one day each at Snowbasin, Powder Mtn, Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird and Alta. Because we had our car we slid all those plans one day and were able to still hit all mtns, then we drove back to DC and returned one day later than originally planned. ALSO, that trip in 2011 was taken in my son's old 1992 Honda Accord with regular tires. (He bought snow tires for it the next winter:) )

From family of six roadtrip to Killington 2001. Little guy in this photo is PSIA L-3 at Snowbird now.


From family of six roadtrip to CO over Christmas Holidays 2003. This is with one of my daughters at Eldora.


With my son on the aforementioned 2011 trip to Utah.


Had a really nice nine day trip during Christmastime 2014, three ski days at Aspen and two powder days at Loveland:


From the 7000 mile, 3 week roadtrip in 2018, Sunshine Delirium Dive
sunshine delirium 4th.jpg

and Meet the Neighbors at Revy, he just came through that notch in upper center:
revy neighbors.jpg
 
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Bandit2941

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Here’s my take on the oil situation as a long time car guy.

The 3k oil change interval was invented back in the day when engines were much more inefficient and “dirtier” than they are now. Nowadays it’s a waste of money to change the oil that often.

My old car, 2006 Chevy, had the oil life monitoring system. I always changed the oil when it got between 5 and 10%. That was typically between 10 and 12k miles. I used synthetic oil and wix filters. I sold the car with 220k miles on it and it’s still going strong.

My new car, 16 Chevy, also has the oil life monitoring system. But it wants me to change the oil much more often, like around 6-7k miles. The reason for this appears to be that the engine is a 1.4 turbo that has direct injection, which means the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber like a diesel. With typical fuel injection, fuel is injected into the intake manifold where it mixes with incoming air. The fuel air mixture then cleans the intake valve on its way into the chamber. With the direct injected engines the intake charge is dry, so no cleaning of the intake valve. As the oil gets older it is more likely to cause deposits on the intake valve so direct injected engines should have the oil changed more frequently. https://www.aa1car.com/library/intake_valve_deposits_gdi_engines.htm

As far as Subarus, all of them 2010 and older are susceptible to head gasket and warping head issues. My machinist for my race car stuff mills Subaru heads often. In 2011 this was supposedly fixed, but my wife’s 2011 Legacy overheated one night and was low on coolant at only 160k miles. Suspecting a head gasket issue we topped off the coolant and traded it in right away on a new one so it’s the dealerships problem now. That car also got very rusty in only 5 or 6 years, both the body and underside. I believe the 2011 recommended 7500 mile oil change intervals in the manual.

On the race cars we get about 7.5 miles per oil change or about 30 burnouts and quarter mile passes :grin:

3D83A9FB-A20D-4BB1-8582-A95C41202F0F.jpeg
 

Cornhead

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Same thing with our 4/5-4/12 to Denver out of Albany on southwest. It was 30k points or $460. Now it’s 20k points or $315. Nice thing about southwest and using points is they return the points to you if you rebook. For my friends that paid cash they get a travel credit to be used within a year.
Perhaps I should contact Chase, I used their rewards points to book the flight. I called United today, they told me yes I can cancel, $200 penalty. His first question was what class ticket, economy, of course. I'm tempted to call back and say first class, if he says yes, I can cancel with no penalty, hang up, upgrade my reservation to first class, cancel, and book another economy flight. As it sits now, price has increased slightly to $236, so I could save $50 by canceling and rebooking. I wonder if my flight will even happen a month from now.

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jimk

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There's a reality behind the hypothetical question.

Having canned the Tahoe trip due to lack of snow, I had been busy putting together a 10 day trip to Colorado. Flying of course.

Then 2 days ago, my office had asked all staff to "work from home if practical", without specified for how long. At first, I didn't take it seriously. I thought it's just panic speaking. I'll enjoy a day or two of not having to come into the office. But now it looks like this thing is for real. (I couldn't leave before this anyway, other obligation, which is now discharged)

So, where's "home" for a skier?

I could just fly out for 10 days. Hopefully by then, the virus scare will be over. And I got 10 days free vacation. (my work is fairly independent. I can do 80% of it after the lift closes).

But I don't think it'll be over that soon. It can last anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. Hence the happy dilemma of driving vs flying. It could potentially last for more than 4 weeks. In which case, driving would be far more economical. But most importantly, driving will give me the flexibility to come back when this thing is over, without having to guess when to fly back.

My 2nd worry is flight options will be limited as fewer and fewer people travel. If I fly, I would only buy outbound ticket. I'm pretty sure the return leg will be cheap. Instead of gambling on a round trip ticket and hoping the return leg will still be operating in 10 days or 2 week time.

If I have to come back in 2 weeks, I lose a bit of money and quite a lot of time. 3 weeks, break even in cost and still lose time. But by then, I'm not sure I even care about the 4 days I lose on the road. The freedom of having a mini-vacation without taking vacation time is worth it.

Oh yes, I have to bring my work computer with me to work efficiently. Though that's a very light weight laptop. So not a burden even if I have to lug it onto a plane.

I think you are talking yourself into driving. You know you want to:lol:


Or in case you travel with a large quiver:
 

JimG.

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I think you are talking yourself into driving. You know you want to:lol:


Or in case you travel with a large quiver:

Applause for jimk.

For driving out west and for your (dream) auto choices!
 

bdfreetuna

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The 3k oil change interval was invented back in the day when engines were much more inefficient and “dirtier” than they are now.

I agree up until a certain point and you mention the direct injection issue next.

My new car, 16 Chevy, also has the oil life monitoring system. But it wants me to change the oil much more often, like around 6-7k miles. The reason for this appears to be that the engine is a 1.4 turbo that has direct injection, which means the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber like a diesel. With typical fuel injection, fuel is injected into the intake manifold where it mixes with incoming air. The fuel air mixture then cleans the intake valve on its way into the chamber. With the direct injected engines the intake charge is dry, so no cleaning of the intake valve. As the oil gets older it is more likely to cause deposits on the intake valve so direct injected engines should have the oil changed more frequently.

Add a turbo to direct injection and you have a platform a lot more dependent on quality oil than port injected naturally aspirated. So it seems to me the "hey day" for using crap oil and long OCI was 90's into mid 2000s before these trade-offs were introduced (or for turbos just introduced more widely).

As far as Subarus, all of them 2010 and older are susceptible to head gasket and warping head issues. My machinist for my race car stuff mills Subaru heads often. In 2011 this was supposedly fixed, but my wife’s 2011 Legacy overheated one night and was low on coolant at only 160k miles. Suspecting a head gasket issue we topped off the coolant and traded it in right away on a new one so it’s the dealerships problem now. That car also got very rusty in only 5 or 6 years, both the body and underside. I believe the 2011 recommended 7500 mile oil change intervals in the manual.

I believe all 2.5L NA are susceptible to the same potential failure even with updating the part # on the gasket to a supposedly more durable material. That probably includes up to current day models although they're too new to see failures.

None of the turbo engines either 2.0 2.2 or 2.5(USDM WRX STI LGT FXT 2005+) suffered head gasket problems on a regular basis. It still happens but pretty rare and usually won't occur at all even on high mileage models. The 3.0L and 3.6L H6 never had much of an issue with it either.

The thing about the new WRX 2.0 and probably 2.4 direct injection -- you gotta walnut blast the valves every 50k miles to keep it running right. Stupid. This is why the smarter manufacturers do direct/port dual injection now.
 

abc

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I think you are talking yourself into driving. You know you want to:lol:
Of course I want to drive. Just looking for justifications.

At first, I worried about return flights got canceled and I’m left in a lurch. But then I realize I can just buy a one way ticket and still have the flexibility.

But I would meed to rent a car, which on the other hand is getting really cheap by the day...

The only justification I could thinks of is really just my guess that this thing will last for more than 2 weeks, at which point the time spend driving starts to make sense...

I could be wrong. But the penalty is not that high...
 

Edd

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If you’re looking for justifications to avoid airplanes, then dodging the Coronavirus Petri dish may help.


Sent from my iPad using AlpineZone
 

JimG.

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Of course I want to drive. Just looking for justifications.

At first, I worried about return flights got canceled and I’m left in a lurch. But then I realize I can just buy a one way ticket and still have the flexibility.

But I would meed to rent a car, which on the other hand is getting really cheap by the day...

The only justification I could thinks of is really just my guess that this thing will last for more than 2 weeks, at which point the time spend driving starts to make sense...

I could be wrong. But the penalty is not that high...

I think you can be sure this is not going to resolve in 2 weeks. The ramping up of infection rates has just started. Folks should be happy if there is a vaccine developed before next winter.

That said, the panic fomented by humanity in general is disappointing. We like to scare the shit out of each other and I just don't buy into it. The folks dying from coronavirus are those who are sick already, very old or very young. They could just as easily die from influenza which on average 20,000 Americans die from every year.

But rationality isn't part of the equation anymore so there is no guarantee your flights won't be cancelled or you quarantined. With the "chicken little" attitude that everything is a guaranteed disaster, I would not risk flying anywhere. I would drive.

Which unfortunately does not preclude you getting quarantined in your hotel. Good luck.
 

mister moose

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Dont planes have pretty solid HVAC to begin with? I would think the biggest contagion is your chair handles & seatback table.
Not sure what you mean by 'solid'. It's bleed air (which is warm) and AC. I was referring to micro-droplets in the air, but sure, you can get it from a surface that has been infected in the last few hours also.
 

bdfreetuna

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The ramping up of infection rates has just started | Folks should be happy if there is a vaccine developed before next winter.

I think we're going to find out eventually a lot of the population caught the virus, in many cases already, and thought it was a regular cold or maybe an unusual cold. Since it is so mild in most people and resembles cold, vast majority of cases go unreported and people recover easily and normally. But that means it's already been spread. Cat's out of the bag on this one.

Whatever was happening in Wuhan where there were rooms full of people having seizures at the same time and people dropping dead on the sidewalk -- seems to be another factor in play. That's not happening elsewhere.
 

JimG.

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I think we're going to find out eventually a lot of the population caught the virus, in many cases already, and thought it was a regular cold or maybe an unusual cold. Since it is so mild in most people and resembles cold, vast majority of cases go unreported and people recover easily and normally. But that means it's already been spread. Cat's out of the bag on this one.

Whatever was happening in Wuhan where there were rooms full of people having seizures at the same time and people dropping dead on the sidewalk -- seems to be another factor in play. That's not happening elsewhere.

I agree with this. Many people already got infected and recovered and are not reflected in the stats.
 

abc

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The virus won’t get resolved in 2 weeks. Maybe not even in 2 months. But I wonder how long the panic and the resulting chaos will last though.

Not to make light of the issue. Several thousand dead in one city within a month, that is a lot! The rest of the world is spared that horror partly thanks to the quarantine.

Im not too concerned about catching the virus on a plane. But I do worry about being quarantined if a passenger is found to be sick. (I’m not staying in hotel once I arrive at Colorado. Have a place to crash)
 
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JimG.

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Im not too concerned about catching the virus on a plane. But I do worry about being quarantined if a passenger is found to be sick. (I’m not staying in hotel once I arrive at Colorado. Have a place to crash)

I would not risk the flight myself for the quarantine risk you mention.

Other than that, all you need now is the Porsche or Corvette and you're good.
 
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