Monday, January 4, 2010
Air Travel 2010 Style
Flying was an adventure when I was a kid. My mother kept the little TWA wings pin, just like the ones the stewardesses were wearing, which they gave me during a flight I can't remember. I was damned cute when I was little.
Flying is a total pain in the neck now. Why do we even do it?
The security is tighter than ever, thanks to terrorists. If you're heading to the US from overseas, good luck to you. Show up early.
You're finally on the plane, you contort yourself into a position a yogi would admire to hoist your bag into the overhead bin, and that's when the fun really begins.
KB and I flew to LA this past summer, so I'm speaking as one who's been there fairly recently. And it's probably worse on shorter flights.
It was awful. The seats are small, there's no leg room. A few lucky souls got a window and the rest of us sat, imprisoned, and hoped to god the trip didn't take longer than it's supposed to.
That can happen. We sat on the tarmac in NY for almost two hours.
"Washing the runways," the pilot explained.
"There's a wombat in the cargo hold," he said later.
"I'm just feeling kind of sad right now," he said a bit later.
Turns out Air Force One was landing shortly before we were due to take off. They couldn't tell us, of course. Who knows what madness we might have plotted from our strapped in position in the middle of a runway.
The President finally landed and we took off. My butt had already gone numb. And we had six more hours to go.
They've jammed more seats into planes than there used to be, the seats themselves are uncomfortable and sometimes don't work - it's really fun to fly for six hours in a seat locked in the upright position.
We bought our tickets at the same time, yet weren't assigned adjoining seats (in both directions!), so we had to negotiate with other passengers to be together. If you're going to be smooshed, it's nice to at least know one of the people who's crushing you.
Food? No. Sorry. Crackers. Peanuts. Soda, juice, coffee, water. They're still free.
Magazines? Just the one that the airline puts out itself. And those are probably so germ-infested you shouldn't touch them anyway.
Every time I get on a plane the person next to me has the plague. Or whooping cough. Or smallpox. Seriously. The woman on the flight out to LA was clearly going to die. I expected to see her left lung land in her lap at any moment.
There's a movie. We had to pay for the earphones to hear it. The earphones are painful. Half an hour was the most I could stand. Plus the movie is always the most insipid, harmless piece of fluff or worse, the movie that won the prize for stupidity at this year's Oscars.
Now you can't have a book or magazine out during the last hour of flight. Oh that's great.
When we landed, when at last they released us, I was so stiff I had to ask for some WD-40 for my spine.
"That's not included," I was told. "That'll be five dollars. We do not take cash."
We made the interminable walk through the terminal, the torsion in my spine increased by the weight of my carry on luggage. I have a prehistoric bag which has no wheels, so I dislocated my shoulder by the time we reached the street.
A lovely ride on a crowded airport shuttle and finally, finally we could escape.
I'd left our home looking like a perfectly normal woman. I dragged my leg behind me out of the terminal with the posture of Igor in "Young Frankenstein".
"And we have to do this again to get home?" I whined.
I always thought flying was like riding a glorified bus.
I've taken the bus to New York City several times. I can tell you the bus is FAR more comfortable.
You can keep your friendly skies. I'll budget out the extra time and drive. Or take the bus. The train. I'll walk. Anything but fly.