The Last Commute

*Friday 7/17*pc-commute533

Today begins my last commute to and from Denver.  I’m on the last flight out today and come back to Seattle on the first flight Monday morning.  At that point I’ll be “going home” to Seattle.

I must say that overall the 3 months of commuting was quite easy and there’s a part of me that will even miss it.  I enjoyed the routine and the private hours it gave me both to work (Monday mornings) and to unwind (Friday evenings).  I’ve blogged, I’ve listened to music, I’ve read, I’ve planned and strategized, I’ve comforted kids and even made a few friends.  Frankly I’ve never really had this kind of focused time, perhaps it’s the lack of TV and Internet or maybe just the fact that I can’t get up and go anywhere, but it’s been productive and kinda fun.

Also the OCD side of me will miss the brutal efficiency of the process.  Over 3 months I’ve honed it from a 7+ hour door to door (office to house) event down to an average of 5.5 hrs.  I know the most direct routes from here to there, the best parking places, the best seats on the bus, the shortest security lines, the right clothes to wear that won’t set off the alarms (belt buckles and metal watches will kill you every time), the places to sit on the plane.  I know where to eat (and when).  I have my carry-on down to a bare minimum size and weight and have all the things I need in the most accessible spots.  It’s like a giant travel system and I’ve optimized the hell out of it.  I love high-speed walking through the airport knowing exactly what’s next and how to carve a minute or two out of it.

Yeah, I know, you’re thinking I’m sick, and maybe I am just a little, but who among us isn’t, just a little?

So today is the beginning of the end of that chapter of my life.  I have 3 more trips back to Colorado to finish a class I’m in.  One trip each of Sept, Oct, and Nov.  After that I’ll just be another holiday traveler moving his family from point A to point B a few times a year, with loads of suit cases and carry-ons and 3 other people’s anxieties to manage.

Here are my travel tips for anyone who makes this run:


  • Fly Alaska Airlines when you can, they are fantastic.   Be sure to enjoy a nice Jones Soda rather than the more common brands.
  • Southwest is your next best bet.  They are fun and have customer service that’s right there with Alaska’s
  • Use the busses in Seattle (until light rail is online in Nov 2009).
  • Wear headphones, especially on the busses, it keeps the crazies quiet.
  • On Alaska, get yourself a seat in row 6, even if it’s the middle seat.  Row 6 is a bulkhead seat, which means you can use your laptop without fear of the reclining seat in front of you.  It has under-seat storage as well as overhead, so that’s a big bonus.  But best of all, row 6 boards right after first class, with all the Premier members and it is SUPER fast to get off the plane at the end of the flight.  I used it every single week (except that one time I gave it up to the nervous flyer woman).


  • Never use the busses in Denver.  RTD blows.  Just park in long-term parking for $5 per day and suffer the ignominy of poor public transport
  • Never use the public restrooms in SeaTac, anywhere, they are all nasty and almost NEVER have soap.  You’ll have to go before you leave for the airport or wait to use the can in your flying can.
  • Never use SeaTac’s “experienced traveler” security line unless you are in fact an experienced traveler.  You don’t want to draw the dirty glares of the business travelers who don’t want your fumbling in their line.  BTW, DIA please add this to your security areas, it’s so freaking smart.

Tips for Denver

  • Park in long term parking (Pikes Peak lot), row C4.  You can always get a spot, you walk right to the bus and it’s next stop is the airport (5 minutes from picking you up).  When you come back don’t ride the bus around the lot, just get off at the first stop (D1) and walk up the isle to C4, you’ll save 15 minutes easy
  • When you get to the airport get off at the United stop (the 1st one) no matter what airline you’re flying.  It’s way faster to walk thru the terminal than to ride the bus around while people exit at each stop.  If you don’t have checked bags then take a hard right from the bus and walk along the south windows of the terminal, it’ll take you straight to security without winding around at all.  VERY quick.
  • If the 1st security screening area looks full, just hoof-it at high speed to the north and go to the 2nd area.  It’s always a shorter line, but a longer walk, so don’t bother unless the 1st line is long.  If the 2nd line is dodgy you can then truck over the walkway to the A-gate security, which is fastest of all but a loooong walk from where you got off the bus.
  • Never eat in the main terminal, you’ll just end up getting hosed by unpredictable security lines.  Go through security and eat when you get out to the concourses.
  • When you get to the concourse if all you want is a snack or a juice (or most especially a bathroom) don’t bother hitting the places in the center.  Truck out to your gate, there are restrooms and snack places at each end of the concourses that have WAY shorter lines.
  • Sit on the port side of the plane when flying to Seattle, you’ll be on the Rainier view side!

Tips for Seattle

  • Ride the 194 bus, NOT the 174 which is much slower and, um, more… scenic
  • There is a great food court *after* security in the center of the main concourse (between B and C).  Eat there, not out near the planes (opposite of Denver, but this is because SeaTac put their good shops and food BEHIND security, this is key!
  • Avoid the bathrooms, they are sketchy.  In fact the restroom in the plane is a way better way to go, at least you’ll have soap and someone will have wiped it down in the last month.
  • SeaTac security is way faster than DIAs, perhaps because it’s a smaller airport or perhaps because they have their shit together, I don’t know.  But go to the southern most security point, it’s the fastest one by far.
  • Sit on the starboard side of the plane when flying to Denver, you’ll be on the Rainier view side!


~ by brianherman on July 20, 2009.

4 Responses to “The Last Commute”

  1. Brian – Thanks for all the tips. You aren’t sick, ha, cause I’d do the same thing. 🙂

  2. Thanks for these awesome tips! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks RTD’s skyride sucks!

  3. Interesting read Brian!

    Though not weekly I do travel to Denver allot. I use the same car parking space at Heathrow, Same flight BA 219, the same seat 16H ( extra leg room and no one in front ). In Denver the BA staff all know me know ( sad I know… ). I stay in the same hotel and eat steak when I arrive 🙂

  4. […] Today begins my last commute to and from Denver.  I’m on the last flight out today and come back to Seattle on the first flight Monday morning.  At that point I’ll be “going home” to Seattle.  I must say that overall the 3 months of commuting was quite easy and there’s a part of me that will even miss it.  In fact… I’m gonna go blog about that. […]

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