28 September 2008 - 15:49Flying
I thought I’d rant a little bit about my recent time spent in the various airplanes. I was cruising the blogosphere and came across a post that Misty from Vassago had posted about her recent trip to a bike race in AZ. Seems we had an equally awful time traveling, so I got inspired to share my own tales.
First of all, I hate flying. It isn’t necessarily the flying part, more than it is the entire process. When I travel, it’s normally for business, it’s been a very long time since I’ve flown anywhere on vacation. I’m pretty organized, and take the extra care to plan ahead, mostly so I can clear the obstacle course that is called “the security check point”. This little step is a huge hassle, and it seems to be that the TSA really get off on being jerks when it comes to shuffling the bovine masses through the metal detector.
What kills me, as that we all know it’s there, yet some folks have to go through 3, 5 even 6 times before being allowed to move on. TAKE THE METAL STUFF OUT OF YOUR POCKETS JACKASS! It isn’t like this is some new thing they are doing either, In my 30 or so years flying on planes, I’ve always had to go through a metal detector. And this relatively new thing banning toothpaste, pit stick and liquids over 2 oz? I call BS on that. It’s just another way for these folks to make life difficult, yet the only thing you can really do about it is to plan around it. Put that stuff in checked baggage, or don’t bring it. Buy it when you get there or something. After all, I’m sure it is really a big conspiracy hatched by Colgate to sell more toothpaste.
The check in desk is always a junk show. Fortunately, the advent of the self service check in has helped people like myself out considerably. I rarely check any baggage. If I can’t fit it in my laptop bag, or in my carry on (which is the maximum legal size) I don’t bring it. If I ever do have to check a bag though, this is typically one of the first places I start to boil. Getting stuck behind some moron who has brought way too much stuff to handle is practically guaranteed. Folks like this have wrecked it for the rest of us by bringing outrageously large suitcases and packing them to the gills. I do get a kick out of watching these folks jockey multiple 70lb suitcases and dropping stuff everywhere though. It sucks that the rest of us are now stuck paying for the bags we do bring. I can’t say I blame the airlines on that one.
I won’t even start on my feelings about air traffic control, who seem completely incapable of keeping any kind of time table. Airlines shouldn’t say “arriving at 10:30P”, they should say “arriving from 10:30P to 1:30A”.
So now for the saga. I arrived 1 hour early at the airport in Burlington for my flight to Vegass via Philly. Upon check in, I was informed that the flight from Burlington to Philly was going to be delayed because of congestion at Philly, and that they were working on the runway or something. But they did check me on to the next plane for my second leg, putting me at my destination around midnight instead of 8. Great. So I went up to the airport bar, bought a $6 pint of mediocre beer, and stared at the F16s on the other side of the runway. Those things are so cool.
I passed through security very quickly, because as I said earlier, I took the necessary and very easy steps to avoid confrontation. No belt, no metal in my pockets, laptop out, shoes off and a big smile. The plane hadn’t even landed yet, so I plopped down and cranked up the iPod. The plane arrived at the gate, at which point the agent announced that we were going to get on the plane as quickly as possible and sit at the end of the runway for the long shot that we could sneak out early. Oh well, sitting in an airport terminal or a plane pretty much has the same level of confinement to me, so what the heck. Maybe I’ll even get to see some F16s tear down the runway.
To my surprise we were tearing down the runway ourselves before too long. Alright! This is going well. Except that the stewardess was very salty and spoke down to everyone she exchanged sentences with. I suppose I would do the same if I had to deal with a bunch of imbeciles all day that can’t follow instructions.
Thirsty? $2 for bottled water. Exact change only. It is exactly the same as that commercial on TV where it costs $1 to use the call button.
We landed and got off the plane at the F terminal, which is about as far as you can get from the B terminal, where I still had 15 minutes to catch my original flight. Could I make it? I was gonna try, because the alternative was to stew in the Philly airport for 3 hours. A shuttle bus ride and a mile long sprint, I actually got on the plane right before they shut the door. AWESOME!
That is where the awesomeness stopped. I was in the aisle seat, the passenger whom I shared an armrest with looked and smelled like Jabba the Hutt in a red t-shirt and sweatpants with a scraggly pony tail and glasses. The stewardess assigned to our section of the plane had an ass the size of a VW Beetle, which, much to my dismay, was too large to really fit down the aisle no matter what way she turned. So every time she made the rounds, I, like my other aisle seat brothers and sisters had an enormous polyester clad buttock dragged across my face. Ugh, I feel sick as I write this. I kinda think that she shouldn’t have been a stewardess at all, and that a career as a Walmart checkout lady would have been more appropriate. If you can’t even fit in the aisle? What if there was an emergency for crying out loud?
No entertainment, a $5 snack box that featured chicken salad (really?- mayonnaise?- in a snack box?), and a 5 hour marathon of personal space invasion made for a really fun time. The crowning moment was upon arriving at the gate, when Jabba decided that he needed to stand in the aisle and crawled over me, dragging his skin tight and sweaty sweat pants over me, so he could be with his girl friend or whatever she was in the next row over. Who goes out with Jabba in a red t-shirt? Turns out it was Sloth from the Goonies. Sloth loves Chunk. The final injustice of the flight had occurred, get me off the damn plane please!
The flight back was much better, Jet Blue has TVs which help pass the time. The flight crew was cordial and patient, and most importantly not overweight. I got to spend more of my free bandwidth observing the other passengers in my area. You know the kind, the ones that think the rules don’t apply to them? Sit in your seat with the belt fastened? Not these people.
It was our friends at air traffic control that screwed things up this time. We sat on the runway for 45 minutes in Vegas, and then for almost 2 hours at JFK. What gives here?
I eventually got home around 1 am, and promptly passed out in my bed feeling as if I had been run over by a pack of wild boars.
I hate flying.