I'm recently returned from a whirlwind trip to central Wisconsin, to attend (and to be an attendant at) my old friend Erik's wedding. Erik and I lived across the hall from one another during our first year at Cornell, and we remained close friends for the remainder of our time there. We've not stayed in regular contact since then, but our friendship is one of those where we can just pick up immediately where we left off, as if we'd last seen one another six minutes ago instead of six years. That's a good kind of friend to have.
Anyway, I was in Wisconsin for less than 48 hours. I suppose that's not much of a whirlwind by some people's standards, but speaking as someone who doesn't travel much, and who in fact tends to avoid long-distance weekend trips, it seemed pretty hectic to me. It didn't help matters that I had to get up at 4:30 Friday morning to catch my flight. I live only fifteen minutes from the airport, but I need a certain amount of time to wake up enough to drive, and I knew from experience that it would take me no less than thirty minutes to ride the shuttle from the economy lot to the main terminal, check my bags, and get through security in time for my 6:30 departure.
But for all that, the flight (flights, actually) were wonderful. For the first leg of the trip, from Washington Dulles to Detroit Metro, I has an entire row of three seats to myself. There was a second person in my row on the flight from Detroit to Madison, but it was a row of three seats so we were both plenty comfortable, inasmuch as one can be comfortable in a coach seat.
The flights home were pretty good too. From Madison to Minneapolis/St. Paul, I again got to share a row of three seats with just one other person, which was surprising given that the flight was pretty full. (Also, it took me about one-fourth as long to get from my car to the gate as it did at Dulles. Let's hear it for small airports.) It wasn't until the flight from MSP to Dulles that I actually had someone sitting right next to me, and we both survived.
The only bad part of the trip came once we arrived back at Dulles: it took nearly an hour to get from the place to my car. More than half that time was spent waiting for the luggage to arrive at the main terminal. Now, I understand that IAD is a big, busy airport, and it takes time to get everything off the plane, but still, forty minutes? Weak.