AIR TRAVEL

You could smoke on the plane the first time I flew. Things have changed since then. Some for the better, but mostly not so much.

My first flight was to SoCal on spring break in the mid 80s. I took to flying like a bird. (Name pun intended.) As soon as you got on board, you were offered a beverage. During the flight you were inundated with peanuts—because peanut allergies weren’t invented yet—and soda and a full-course meal and more peanuts and more soda. All for free! There were no movies on the plane back in the day, so you were forced to read (EGAD!). For the non-readers, there was plenty of room to stretch out and sleep during the flight. And at the end of the flight, the stewardesses brought you a nice hot towel to freshen up with before you disembarked. By the time you left the plane, you felt like a rock star.

Then you wandered off empty-handed to baggage claim to collect your 57 pieces of luggage because all your checked bags were free. I believe this is where my over-packing disease began; I took everything I owned, including my long sleeved sweater dress and white hose and red shoes because 1. it was the only fancy outfit I had as a poor college student, and 2. people still wore panty hose in the 80s. And yes, I sweated balls in a sweater dress in San Diego.

Fast forward to 2015 and come with me on my latest flying adventure.

First of all, you now must arrive at the airport 900 hours before your flight to ensure you make it through security in time for departure. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about security, especially when I will be hurtling through the air at 500 mph in a tin can driven by what I imagine is a more drunk version of Denzel in Flight. It is my fellow travelers that cause my blood to boil during this part of the journey. For the life of me, I cannot understand why a human being cannot figure out that 3 oz or less liquids in one quart size plastic bag means just that. Why would you think it means you can carry on a full-sized bottle of Johnson’s baby shampoo (going) or a tub of apricot preserves (returning)?

We were in the security line for a solid 15 minutes before we got to the part where you get a bin and throw in your shoes and your quart bag of liquids and your laptop (in its own bin, of course, because that’s what keeps it from being a bomb). During this time I emptied my pockets, took off my watch, untied my shoes, detached the hand sanitizer from my purse strap and put it into my quart bag, and held my quart bag in my hand to slap into the bin as soon as my disgruntled ass could grab one. The old couple in front of us bickered and the man in front of them talked on his cell phone. You already know how this ends. Old man shocked and old woman indignant that they have to remove their liquids from the carry-on bags, even though there have been 40 signs and someone yelling ‘’remove your liquids’’ every 30 seconds for the last 15 minutes. Man on cell phone cannot bother to hang up, and is surprised to learn that his laptop needs its own bin. You know, when he is all the way to the scanner machine and the bins are 30 feet behind him.

After that thrill, we made it to the plane and, surprise of all surprises, it is a full flight so there is not enough overhead bin space for all the carry-on luggage. Of course the real reason is not because it is a full flight; the real reason is because everyone has crammed as much crap as possible into their carry-on luggage to avoid paying for a checked bag. Here’s a tip, airlines: we all do that on purpose because we are pissed off you made the dbag move of charging for checked luggage. And here’s something else: we don’t care that it makes your job harder to find room for our carry-on luggage; huff and puff all you want about figuring out where to put my bag that holds more cheap clothing than JC Penney. I don’t give a rat’s ass if you have to delay the flight to curbside check in every single carry-on bag; solve your problem by not charging me to check a bag. (I mean, let’s face it, if they just rolled the extra 25 bucks into the cost of the ticket, no one on earth would even notice it.)

Anyhoo… We are on the plane and in our seats and ready for takeoff! My knees are touching the seat back in front of me and my gangly elbow is sticking 3/4s across the aisle, but who cares; I’m going on vacation! Until Denzel the pilot announces there will be a slight delay so Air Force One can take off—“a slight delay of about an hour.” Oxymoron much? And so the delays begin. There will be this one, then one for the connecting flight. Then on the way home there will be a nice four hour one, which includes our original flight being canceled completely, so that we do not arrive home until the morning of the day after our intended return.   The return delay was when I discovered with joy that the airports have put arm dividers across the terminal seats so you cannot lie down. Nice touch.

As soon as the delay was announced, the person in front of me reclined her seat. This is officially the ultimate dbag move. Not to be out-dbagged, I immediately began to alternately cough and kick her seatback. Note to fellow travelers: if you recline your seat on a flight of less than 4 hours, I will 1. cough on you, 2. jam my grotesquely oversized kneecaps right into your spine, 3. open and close my tray table a minimum of 87 times, slamming it closed each time, and 4. grab the back of your headrest to hoist my ever-widening ass out of my seat to get to the restroom, and if I’m lucky, pull your hair in the process. (Note: if anyone has come up with any other passive-aggressive torture techniques, please let me know so I can deploy them in the future.) If I traveled often enough, I would definitely be the owner of one of those contraptions that won’t permit the seat in front of you to recline, although my total bad ass husband (PTST) tells me those are now no longer permitted on planes. Figures.

Finally we arrive at our destination, and the mass exodus begins. Or rather, everyone turns on their cell phones and fails to pay attention to the line and fumbles about unprepared to collect their 5000 lb carry-ons and exit when it is their turn. As I have neither eaten because I refuse to pay $10 for a stale ham sandwich nor slept because I am unable to sleep when I am contorted into the plane seat, this is especially tiresome. Of course it is good practice for when we arrive at baggage claim and are bum-rushed by everyone who, for reasons that I cannot fathom, must get the bag the second it comes down the chute. Why can’t you just stand back and let it come around? You know it’s just a big circle, right? Do you realize there is no prize for the one who stands closest to the carousel?

Because I am such a helpful wife, I volunteer to stand to the side with the carry-on luggage while Mike throws himself to the wolves in an attempt to collect our bags. After two full-body blocks, one by a man who was at least 400 years old, and one Samsonite foot-rollover, he managed to obtain our bags and off we went on vacation. Discussing all the fun to be had before we return to the airport in one week for more torture, and how it would be really nice if you could light up a Marlboro Red once you made it the plane…

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