Key West Via Miami; Roadtrippers Take Flight.

“Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

We departed Minneapolis for Key West today with a 5 am wake up call and a 7:30 flight; first stop – Miami.  Neither Keke, nor I were particularly excited to fly as we hadn’t done so in 15 to 20 years; we needed those rosy glasses.  We don’t like being 6 plus miles up in the air, but it’s the whole process that seems to annoy us.  Early check-in, security check, delays, cramped cabins, lack of control, etc, all make the experience negative for us.  That said, the drive to Key West was 30 hours via Google, which means it would have taken us 35 to 40, one way.  That wasn’t going to work on it’s own, but add in that Soren wouldn’t have been with us, and it was for sure not going to happen.

Wednesday to Wednesday with Sun Country from Minneapolis to Miami cost us $350ish total round trip.  We didn’t want to be away from Soren that long (we’ve never gone longer than five days, and typically never go longer than three), but the deal was much better than a shorter stay, so we went with it.  

The night before, an article on Sun Country magically appeared in my Facebook newsfeed, even though I didn’t book the tickets, and I don’t subscribe to the entity that wrote the article.  It kinda seems like someone is maybe possibly listening to my conversations?  The article was all negative about Sun Country, and, therefore, made a nervous situation worse.  

Since we hadn’t flown in so long we kinda forgot how it works.  Keke checked in with Sun Country online, so we proceeded to the security checkpoint where a very healthy line had already begun.  As we went through a large man yelled at Keke for thinking our suitcase was a carryon (we did not, we just forgot where we checked it in the process).  As unpleasant as he was, another TSA rep was very helpful when we told him our situation.  He told us to try and check it at the gate, and Davina with Sun Country was fantastic to deal with.  

In the few flights that I have had in my life, alcohol has been an effective aid against the anxiety and the annoyance. At this time in the morning, there were no bars open (that I could find anyway, although I didn’t look that hard), so we were going to have to do this edge on (until airborne and the drink cart comes by anyway).  

One of the gripes in the article I read about Sun Country is that they had put in narrower seats in an effort to get more passengers per plane.  I did notice this as our plane was full up, and it was a tight fit.  We were in the very back row, and I gave Keke the aisle as she had a big boot on to help her deal with her broken foot.  We did also get to have a nice 40 minute delay on the tarmac.  Aside from how cramped it was and the delay, the plane did what planes do, which is take off, cruise, and land in a timeframe that one could never achieve in another way.  The flight was relatively smooth, and the landing into Miami was stunning as you circle over the ocean before your approach.

When do we get to the first rest stop? Or, don’t they don that in planes?

One benefit to being idiots that don’t know how air travel works is that in checking our bag at the gate is that our bag was one of the last ones on the plane.  Keke had seen a meme that said how no one ever claims the first bag on the carousel.  We believed that, until now.  We were the first bag; last on first off, I guess.

Next is where the fun really began.  Keke booked our rental car through website called EZ Car Rentals.  They connected us with a car rental service called Economi Cars.  We were led to believe that we were renting a car for eight days and for $90 total.  It sounds too good to be true, and that’s because it was.  

The first issue was that the rental company wasn’t on site at the airport.  We called them and asked how we’d get our car and immediately had problems communicating.  They spoke in broken English and in Spanish.  Eventually, it was determined that they would come get us in a Toyota Carolla (that was to be our car) and take us back to their office.  Once at the office in an old shipyard/industrial district in Miami, we found out all the other charges that we weren’t told about.  We were charged for using our own insurance.  We were charged a deposit for the tolls that would be refunded to the extent that we didn’t get charged tolls.  We were charged for state and local taxes, and we were credited $77 for pre-payment, even though we pre-paid $90.  

Honestly, we were a bit nervous, being in an area we didn’t know, with a very cold person that we couldn’t communicate with, and without immediate knowledge on how to get out of there.  The toll deposit made sense and the taxes did also (although we were led to believe that they were included in the $90 we paid, and they seemed to be just arbitrary even numbers rather than based on some established percentage).  What made no sense to us was the insurance issue.  We gave them our insurance card, why are they charging us to use our own insurance?  We wanted out, so we decided to roll with it and try and look further into everything later.  After everything was processed, we asked how we’d get back to the airport when we returned the car and she said that they’d give us a ride. **This whole thing ended up being a scam as our $90 initial cost was our actual contract price. We had been had. Avoid those groups at all cost.**  

With us poorer than we’d thought we’d be at this point, we were just happy to be away from the rental company and on our way.  We had an extra night before we were going to head to Key West, so we grabbed a cheap room at the La Quinta Airport North.  The hotel was decent enough and in the $50 range with some of Keke’s Wyndham rewards.  We found the nearest Target to stock up on some provisions for the week and after dinner at Chili’s (because why would you want to explore new things in a new place), we called it a night.

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