Friday, October 12, 2007

A Day of Flying

I don't how many of my readers fly on a regular basis, but for those that don't let me give you an idea of what it is like from my point of view.

I have been in LA all week (that's why my posts are late, 2 hours time difference), and today I get to fly back home to Texas.

First, even before I head to the airport, I have to make sure that I don't have any contraband in my computer bag or on my person. Thus my pocket knife and lighter gors back into my check-in suitcase.

After I check out of my hotel, I have to return my rental car. But before I do, I have to top off the gas tank, otherwise the rental car company will charge me $6.00 a gallon to fill it up. Checking in the car isn't so bad, a person looks it over, punches in some numbers into his hand- held computer and gives me a receipt, piece of cake. But now I have to wheel my suitcase (thank God they have wheels now, before it was a pain to lug a 40lb suitcase around) over and wait for a bus to drive me over to the airport terminal (along with 20 other people and their bags).

We have finally gotten to the terminal and it is time to check in. Oh, did I forget to say that you have to check in at least 1 hour before the flight? Otherwise too bad, take the next flight. Luckily I fly Continental which has little ticket kiosks where all you do is scan in a credit card, answer a few questions and it prints out you tickets and the luggage tag for the attendant. They take your bag, and hopefully you will see it again at the end of your trip (Continental is real good about not losing your baggage, I haven't lost one yet).

Oh No, now it is time for SECURITY! You wait in this serpentine line, have your boarding pass and drivers license ready to hand to the security person at the head of the line. This person verifies that you are who you say you are and that you have a valid ticket to get through security. Again you wait in line to go through the check point. This is the place that separates the frequent fliers from the first timers. If you are smart (and you wouldn't believe how many fliers aren't) you place your bag in a plastic tub, your computer in another tub, and pull out the ziplock bag with all your liquids in it, and place it in a 3rd tub with you shoes (in my case boots) and all your metallic items. I have had to wait behind people, that don't take off their shoes (hold up everybody behind them as they remove them and put them a tub), don't take their cell phone out of their pocket (again holds up everybody behind them as they put it a tub) or has so much bling they set off the metal detector (in which case they are pulled to the side and wand and patted you down, serves them right). And as you go through the metal detector, you had better have your boarding pass in hand, otherwise, you are pulled aside and checked you out to make sure you aren't a Bin Laden wannabe. So, I made it through the detector, now I have to put my computer and bag full of liquids back into my bag, put on my boots, watch, and glasses and all the crap back into my pockets. YES! I made it through.

Ok, time to find your gate. If they haven't changed it at the last minute, it should be the one printed on your boarding pass. So you look up, find a sign written in 3 different languages to see which direction you have to walk towards. Walking towards the gate can be a nice experience (lots of eye-candy in airports) or it can be a harrowing experience (knee high little kids running around dragging Strawberry Shortcake bags that don't care if they just cut you off) or electric carts carrying old people to their gates that honk or yell "Watch the Cart!". I usually find my gate, check the time, and then find the nearest Starbucks for a iced Mocha Latte and a Cranberry Scone. Waiting time. I eat my scone, read a book as I watch the walk ways for weird people and woman that dress like strippers, and there is usually some of both.

If, and I mean IF, the plane will is on time or is waiting for you at the gate, and then 1/2 hour before it is scheduled to take off, it is boarding time. Being a frequent flier with Continental, I have what they call "Elite" status and I get to board before the commoners, right after First Class (unless I have been upgraded to First Class). I like this because then I don't have to fight people to find a place in the overhead storage area for my bag. Which brings us to boarding and bags. Why do people think that they have to bring the biggest damn bag they own onto the plane? And why do they carry it down the aisle, slamming into people's elbows, stomping on their feet and try to stuff it into the overhead storage bins, like trying to stuff a size 14 ass into size 3 jeans? I drives me crazy to see this, because it holds up the whole boarding process and that could delay the plane from leaving on time. Bad Idea!!

Okay, we are on the plane, have all the idiots, drunks, screaming kids, foreigners, gramps and grandmas on the plane finally. Their crap is stored (after a few reminders by the flight attendants that you can't keep that big box of fresh lobsters on your laps, it has to either go under the seat in front of your or in the the already over stuffed overhead bins).

At this time, you can judge how the flight is going to be. Are you sitting next to a small and quiet lady, reading her Cosmopolitan magazine? Or are you going to have 3 hours of hell because you got Ms Size 18 and 2 screaming brats next to you? If the flying gods are with you, you have lady #1, if they hate you, you are stuck with Ms Size 18 and her demon spawn.

After taxing away from the gate, and praying there is not a mechanical failure, the plane taxis down the end of the runway like a lumbering beast, stuck behind 15 other lumbering beasts taxing along. We take off, turns to the left and we are on our way home. At this point, because I am a frequent flier, I lean my seat back, pull out my noise canceling headphone, hook them up to my Zune, select an album that fits my mood (morning: Moody Blues, afternoons: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, or Rory Gallagher and if it is Ms Size 18 next to me: Metallic Black Album).

A list of what I had to endure while flying: screaming kids, kids running up and down the aisles, drunken obnoxious and LOUD asshole businessmens, pukers, and smelly hippies.

During the flight, you can get a drink (I prefer either ginger-ale or Snappy Tom tomato juice) and a snack/meal. Which you try to eat and drink without spilling it on yourself and if you are sitting next to Ms Size 18 and her future crack-heads, it can be a tough task.

The flight itself: Endure, Endure, Endure.

Landing time. This is the time in which the flight attendants has to tell Mr "I am an important businessman" 15 times to put his frigging computer away or he will have to have it surgically removed from his rear orifice and tell Ms Pretty Snob Bitch to pull her damn seat forward or her hair weave is going to be thrown in the aisle to be trampled by the rest of the passengers.

We landed, we cheated death again!!

We get to the gate. We are suppose to stay in our seats until the plane has completely stop at the gate and the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. Inevitably there is a asshole that doesn't believe that this rule is meant for them. They will get up, reach for their bag in the overhead bin. before the plane has stopped, and when it does, Mr or Ms "I don't obey rules" will be thrown forward into the seat in front of them or into the aisle. Time to laugh at their stupidity.

Plane is at the gate, we stand up, jostling each other to retrieve our bags, and waiting, and waiting as the people in front of us deplane. And praying that Mr "I am an important businessman" isn't in seat 9C and he put his bag above seat 25D and wants to retrieve it (tough luck buddy, you have to wait).

I am off the plane and in one piece, header to baggage claim, where I wait around for 10 minutes for my bag to slide down a chute onto a carousel, elbowing people out of my way to yank it off before it goes by me, and praying that Ms Size 18's little Charlie Manson get his hand stuck in the rotating carousel and has to have it sawed off with a rusty butter knife.

I wheel my bag out of the airport, try to remember where I parked car, and leave the airport until the next time I get to experience the pleasures of flying.

Mr Minority