"Planes, Trains and Cars" is the twenty-first episode from Season 3 of Modern Family, it aired on May 2, 2012.

Plot Summary

The Dunphys are in the market for a new car and Phil makes a spontaneous purchase without Claire. Will he have buyer's remorse? Meanwhile, Jay is determined to get to his high school reunion with Gloria and Manny in tow, and Lily loses her favorite stuffed animal on a public metro train, leaving Mitch and Cam with an inconsolable toddler.

Episode Description

Jay, Gloria, and Manny are making a weekend trip up to Pebble Beach so Jay can meet up with some of his old football buddies, which was one of the best times in his life. He's really trying to step up his game because he claimed he was something of a legend. He even rents a small plane to fly them up there. And suddenly Gloria puts her foot down and refuses to get on it. So they try to drive up there, a four-hour trip with no bathroom breaks. But a pothole takes out the strut on Jay's SUV and they will be stranded in the middle of nowhere. The mechanic, seeing Gloria, offered to take them up in an old Apache helicopter. But Gloria isn't having that either. Manny is not thrilled about staying in a motel, but Jay thinks they can still get to Pebble Beach by hopping a freight train. Finally, Gloria's has enough and wants to take Manny home and leave Jay behind. It turns out, Jay wanted to show her off because he highly exaggerated how much of a legend he was. He was actually a very shy kid who rode the bench and wanted to show off Gloria to the more popular jocks to prove he made something of himself. Gloria is upset that he didn't say that in the first place. She gets right on that helicopter and gets herself "all trophied up", and Manny enjoys the resort to the fullest, even sending flowers to the concierge.

Mitchell and Cameron take Lily on her first subway ride through L.A. But she needed her shoes tied, so Cam tosses Mitch Lily's Bunny stuffed animal to hold while he ties her shoes, only Mitchell isn't paying attention and Bunny gets thrown back in the train. Lily, without Bunny, spends all night crying causing Mitch and Cam to stay all night awake. Mitchell tries to convince Lily that Bunny called him and was having a great adventure in St. Louis visiting his girlfriend. Except, according to Lily, Bunny doesn't talk and has a boyfriend, so she high-tails it to St. Louis to get Bunny back (not really). Finally, Mitch and Cam head to the subway to put the new flyers up, although a Helvetica font would have communicated need, according to Cam. Mitch thinks Lily has just deal with it, like he had to when Jay wouldn't get his Luke Skywalker action figure back but then Cameron ask him if Mitch wants his relationship with Lily to be like the one he have with Jay and it made Mitch find it. Luckily, they find Bunny in the possession of a sleeping homeless man. They try to extract it, only to have the homeless man cough heavily and wipe his nose on it. They decide to not get the stuffed animal and think that does not matter if Lily hates them, as they have tried to recover it.

Phil is looking for a car to lease, and he wasn't thrilled about leasing a Cadillac again. Andre, his neighbor, talks him into taking the Porsche 964 for a spin. And Phil is convinced, a little sentimental for the days when he imagined the wind blowing through his perm, listening to Hall & Oates, and having some fun with his Mr. Microphone. Claire did the typical "saying I love it when I really want to kill you" routine that housewives are famous for, and Phil is going crazy because he knows that's what she's doing and she won't cave in and admit it. But he has bigger problems as he has to pick up some clients. As in plural. They switch cars and Claire drives around in the Porsche. And she loves it. In fact, she loves it so much, she decides to drive up the coast and spend the entire day at the beach. She even did cartwheels in the sand, which is a great way to lose your car keys. Meanwhile, Phil is running errands, including shuttling the kids around, and he realizes how much disconnect there is these days between the kids and him. He goes to get Claire, and both of them realize they needed a day to themselves to just unwind and enjoy each other. Rather than keeping the Porsche, they agree to spend one day at the beach by themselves every month. And Phil does some impressive back flips to celebrate.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring


  • Andre, Phil's neighbor from "Treehouse", makes a reappearance.
  • Leon returns from "Aunt Mommy".


  • Although in the press release of this episode the name of Eric Edelstein's character is provided as "Mechanic", in the episode he wears a name tag that puts "Kyle", therefore it can be deduced that this is his name.

Cultural References