The process of flying home from Oberlin can be wonderful and stressful at the same time. The wonderful part is that you get to come home to family, friends, and loved ones after your flight lands. The stressful part, however, acts as a really irritating roadblock between you and your home. This part includes scheduling your flight, packing your bags, and checking in for the flight. That's not even including the fact that you have to find a ride to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport from Oberlin, since the airport is a little over thirty minutes away from campus. There is a lot of anxiety that comes with that, but I promise you that there is a way to make it through this process. Since I find joy in helping fellow Obies figure out these types of things, I'm going to "put you up on game," as I say to my friends. In other words, I'm going to guide you through this process to ensure nothing but success for your flights home in the future. Here are a few tips I can give you so that you fly home from Oberlin with satisfaction:
TIP NUMBER ONE: Start to look for your tickets early.
Now, this may be the most difficult part of the entire flight process, especially if you're actually paying for your flight. Ideally, you want to get your tickets a month before the scheduled flight. Even if somebody else is paying for your flight, that same idea still applies to them. There is a reason why I said "ideally," though. Unfortunately, "ideally" doesn't equate to "most realistic." It may be difficult to find a decent and affordable flight time that early. Sometimes, you may find a cheaper flight closer to the day your flight is scheduled on. Other times, you just might find that perfect flight a month or two early. It all depends on what timing is best for you. That is why I say that looking for your tickets early is the best strategy, because you are giving yourself a much better opportunity to find affordable tickets somewhere. If you wait until the last minute to find tickets, you may run out of options. That would be unfortunate. Give yourself a better shot and start ticket shopping early!
TIP NUMBER TWO: Pay attention to the shuttle dates and times.
Oh, man. I learned this lesson the HARD way. If you did not know, Oberlin uses a shuttle bus and a shuttle van to transport students from Oberlin to the Cleveland airport. The shuttle costs fifteen dollars, and it does a decent job of getting students to and from both locations in about thirty minutes. What I DIDN'T know was that the shuttle only ran on Sunday, Monday, Friday, and Saturday. Another important thing to note is that I assumed the shuttle would treat Thanksgiving as a holiday break. If it was treated as such, the shuttle would have run every day before the break started on Wednesday. This past Thanksgiving break, I had a flight scheduled on a Tuesday. I assumed all was well, because the shuttle was on holiday break, right? Sike. It turned out that I was very wrong. The shuttle was on its regular schedule, which meant that it didn't run on Tuesdays. I did not learn about this until a couple days prior. I was walking through the mailroom and saw the shuttle sign, which showed all the days it ran. I did not go into panic mode, but I did feel a little nervous. Luckily, though, my coach drove me to the airport. I got really lucky that time, but I may not be as fortunate in the future.
It is also essential to make sure you check the times. Time management is everything when it comes to planning your transportation, especially if the times the shuttle provides do not correspond well with the flight departure time. If you have an evening flight, you may have to be at the airport for a while. This is because the shuttle does not run late, unless you pay extra money. Paying extra is not worth it based on my experiences, but if you feel it is best, go for it. Otherwise, just do what I do and take the latest afternoon shuttle possible. Then, wait at the airport for however long it takes for your plane to take off. Patience is a virtue, after all, and it can also save money.
TIP NUMBER THREE: You don't always have to take the shuttle to the airport!
In college, making connections is very important. Since Oberlin is a small school, it is even easier to make these connections. "Jason, where are you going with this?" Well, you could always make friends with people who have their own vehicles. These friends could be very generous, and they could give you a cheap or free ride to the airport. I would suggest that you should pay that friend gas money, though. It is just common courtesy to do so.
You could also find a friend and split the cost of an Uber to the airport, OR, you could organize a group of friends who are going to the airport around the same time and split the ride that way. Ahhh, saving money is wonderful, isn't it?
TIP NUMBER FOUR: Strategize for security.
The worst part about going to an airport is the part when you deal with TSA. The long lines are annoying for starters. Then, you have to dig for every single item in your pockets and place them in the bins on that huge conveyor belt. Let's not forget to mention that you have to take off any form of outerwear. What about the shoes? Those go off, too. I know it is a lot to deal with. My suggestion would be to strategize for security. Take everything out of your pants pockets and place the items in your jacket pocket. That way, the items go off with the jacket. This makes the security process so much easier. Another action I would recommend is for you to wear shoes you're comfortable taking off and on again. Don't forget that you can't bring any beverages either, so finish that La Croix or Dr. Pepper before you go through the security line. It is going to save you so much time and effort.
Follow these tips, and flying out of Oberlin should be a much easier process! Feel free to comment with any additional tips if you want.