Cutting it Close Only Works if the Airport is 30 Min Away or Less

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I was in the North Carolina mountains for a memorial service this weekend and I wanted to stay as long as possible (in fact I changed my flight). But it was Memorial Day so I figured I should give myself a little extra time to make the 2 1/2 hour drive back to the Greenville Airport.

Some times I’ve made it in as little as 2 hours and 15 minutes, so I figured if I gave myself 3 hours that should be sufficient for any possible delays. Thus I left a little before 3PM for my 7PM flight.

I hit my fair share of “sunday drivers” but then got behind two separate school buses. Not ideal, but I had built in the extra time so I was doing ok. Google Maps was showing several accidents on I-85, but I was hoping they’d have cleared by the time I got there.

Then 15 minutes later as I was winding through the Sumter Forest, I came to a stop. The two lane highway was completely shut down for an overturned vehicle. 20 minutes later (with no cell phone service) I was contemplating the probability I could change my flight again.

Fortunately the road reopened soon after and I was attempting to make up time with only an hour and45 til my flight boarded (and I was an hour out). I checked Google Maps on my phone and saw only one accident remained. 10 minutes later the status had been updated to “People on the road at MM 51.” Yikes!

A little while later I checked again…

I85 accidents

Ack! What kind of accident was this!?

Fortunately it had cleared by the time I went through and I also got a call from United letting me know my flight was delayed by 50 minutes. Phew. Maybe I’d have time to make a quick stop for food. A few minutes later United called back, flight only delayed by 15 minutes now. Ack!

I did make it, but the stress wasn’t worth staying an extra 15 minutes. Planning to arrive at the airport only an hour ahead of time works if the airport is only 20-30 minutes away, but with a 2 1/2 hour drive I was cutting it too close.

What’s the closest you’ve cut it for a flight?


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.


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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


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