Saturday, March 15, 2008

Flight 7634: Nonstop to discomfort

People wonder why I prefer to drive when traveling rather than to fly. Just to help prove my point I took some notes when I was flying last week. First things first I suppose I was in the airport a lot last week, running from connection to connection. I stood in a security line 4 times for a trip that was just here to there. As you stand at security most airports have a television screen prompting you to prepare yourself to go through the line. They've got it down to a three step process - though I can't remember exactly what they are, but I remember the little animations. Take out your laptops and video camera (in the x-ray they look like little bombs), take off your shoes and belts, and wait until your stuff has gone through the machine before you walk through, make sure to have your boarding pass with you too. I have to admit that the walking through the machine is the hardest part for me, I am determined to follow the rules once set in place and yet they have a security guard calling me through when my stuff hasn't gone through! I can't go before my stuff does the animation told me so! So I finally walk through, don't even beep, and then go down to get dressed again for my flight. They get to do all of this stuff and I'm still not allowed to joke about a bomb. Which I almost did but luckily right before I did I saw a long sign prohibiting me from just that kind of entertainment.

Now I like traveling; I just don’t like all the options for traveling. If I had my choice I would drive everywhere, somehow I’d have a magical car that never runs out of gas and eyelids that never grow heavy. Another thing I don't like about flying and this is probably the most important one is that I never get to sit by someone cute. I see cute guys waiting for the same plane and I think to myself, “Maybe this time I’ll get to sit by one of those.” But even before I board the plane I know I won’t be because they were already called to a boarding “Zone” before my number 5 was called. I don’t see that advantage from loading a plane from front to back, that’s annoying. Let the people who have to sit all the way in the back go first, biblical in a sense, because the first shall be last and the last first, but apparently whoever decided on how to organize the zone’s isn’t a bible enthusiast. So I have to get to 17e (that’s right, a middle seat) and I’m stuck behind some lady with an oversized carryon, trying to put it in the overhead compartment and she’s standing in front of row 8. Really? What zone is she in? Finally, after bumping a couple people in the head with my carry on bag I get to 17e, all the arm rests are up and a generously proportioned, yet somewhat friendly woman is sitting by the window. I sit next to her, but not wanting to seem rude I hold off on pulling down the armrest. When it looks as though everyone is on the plane and the seat next to me is still vacant I politely inform the lady that I’m going to scoot over. While I’m there a man comes on the plane and makes his way directly to my row, but is on the other side. As he tries to get ready to take his seat I am placed in the uncomfortable position of being eye level with his butt cheeks. I try to look out the window but just knowing what is right there makes me uncomfortable. Then, when everyone should have already been on the plane one last passenger gets in, I’m wondering to myself what kind of clout he’s got because I’ve never been able to get on a plane this late in the game, and I just feel as though he should have been able to. So he comes and as it turns out, I’m in his seat. I scoot back over to sit by the lady who is having trouble reaching her pad of paper on the ground so I reach down and get it for her. I politely put down the arm rest and wait for take off. I hate middle seats. As I am sitting there staring out the window, making the woman next to me feel as though I am staring at her I hear some cheerful conversation between strangers, it’s on of the cute guys several rows up, and aisle and middle seat having a casual conversation on how much they have in common. I repeat, I never get to sit by the cute guys.
Another thing I don’t like is that the penny crunching airlines have been doing since I was 18 years old has officially left me without anything to eat. The first time I flew I was giving a little gourmet Lunchable. On this first leg of my journey I was given a pack of crackers, which at first repulsed me, I read the packaging, Cream Cheese and Chive did not sound appealing to me, but being hungry I took my chances. I actually really liked them. Luckily for me the uncomfortable middle seat flight was a short one and for my four hour flight I would be lucky to be by the window, my favorite spot on a plane. I got another chance to eat the Cream Cheese and Chive crackers because they had those on this flight as well. A four hour flight with six crackers in the stomach and six about to join them; This is all I had eaten that day. They passed around menus for overpriced lunch items and aisle seat man ordered an $8 sandwich. I preferred to keep my money because what’s the point in paying $8 for a sandwich which I am going to go through and remove all the anti-pleasantries that people assume others would like to have on their sandwich and therefore reducing an $8 sandwich to a $2 sandwich that wouldn’t be $8 worth of hunger satisfaction. Still beats the flight home where I traveled for 10 hours and was not once offered any food, not only that but the one time they brought around the beverage cart I had momentarily passed out from exhaustion and woke up as the cart was at my aisle and the attendants were on either side of it, serving the aisle in front and the aisle behind and I couldn’t tell if they had already come to me because everyone on my row was asleep, then as I was about to risk waking up the gaseous woman curled up next to me and try to get some liquid refreshment they quietly consulted each other and put the beverage cart away, never to be seen again until they were collecting trash at the beginning of our initial descent.

After all of this they still have the audacity to leave my luggage somewhere else! On the way to Sacramento they left it in LA (which I hate by the way) and then on the way back they left my luggage in Las Vegas....I just don't get it, I had to walk a mile to the Gate D security check point, stand in line for who knows how long, take my shoes and belt off, get redressed, ride a little Amtrak like device to the actual Gate D terminal, find my gate, sit and watch people mindlessly waste time and money on the slot machines in the middle of the terminal (Wheel of Fortune slot machines...seriously?), finally board the plane, and wait for take-off and my luggage couldn't make it to my plane in the hour and half?

Yeah, cars are the superior method of travel. You can take as many liquids as you want, you can't lose your luggage unless you're an idiot, if you neighbor smells you can open the window, you can stop when you need to go to the bathroom and you'll actually be able to move around in it, there's no limit on how much stuff you can take, you don't have to hear the cries of stranger babies, and when you get to your destitnation you don't have to wait for the other 40 passengers to deboard before you can even stand up. Oh and you know what else? You can joke all you want about bombs in your own car.

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