Monday, October 15, 2007

Joys of modern air travel

A window seat? Yikes. Well, at least I'll have a great view of our fine country from above. Unless I'm in the row above the wing. But what are the odds of that? Pretty good.

I remember my college days, flying out to Columbia, Mo. on Ozark Airlines, with hot meals served with cloth napkins and metal silverware.

I thought of that Monday night on a flight from Atlanta to Detroit when the flight attendant offered me a granola bar – for $2.

Flying is not the same.

Now, I’m not complaining. Just observing. And the thought of any inconvenience evaporates the second I see my Dad waiting for me at the airport.

But after taking two three-leg flights in the last four days, there are a couple things to discuss.

Inconsiderate bastards

I’m going to call them IBs from here on out to be polite.

OK, if the rows are going to get any closer together, they’re going to start spraying people with WD-40 as they enter the jetway so they can get into their seats.

Knowing this, there are still IBs who insist on reclining their seats, knowing full well what this does to the person sitting behind them.

On one leg of my trip, an old guy in the row ahead of us dropped back as soon as he could. The guy behind him couldn’t believe it.

“The last time I saw somebody laying back that far he was getting a root canal,” he said loudly, so the IB could hear him.

“Seriously, they’re going to need the Jaws of Life to get me out of here.”

Of course, the old guy didn’t budge.

There are three things you can do in such situations.

First, as you see the seat going back, jam your knees up against the magazine/barf bag holder. If the IB’s finger is still on the button, you can at best push it back up and at worst stop it from going back further. The downside is that the IB might wait until you are not suspecting it and drop back again.

Second, take the overhead air-blower, tilt it as far forward as you can and turn it on full blast. Unless the IB is completely oblivious, he’ll get annoyed and move forward.

And third, in drastic cases, sneeze. The IB is certain to freak out when he feels that fine mist landing on his comb-over.

If none of these work, you can always set your can of Diet Coke on the IB’s forehead and say, “Oh, you were so freaking far back that I thought your face was an ugly meal tray.”

The baggage guys were slamming luggage on the conveyor like they were playing Whack-a-Mole, in full view of everybody in the gate area. Now, which is worse, seeing them slam your bag around or not seeing your bag at all?

Overhead storage battles

I know checking bags is always a risk, and this seems to be prompting IBs to try to bring all of their luggage onboard no matter how big the bags are. But, of course, there is limited room.

On one of my legs, I got to my seat nice and early, took out my book and magazine – Newsweek with Rachael Ray on the cover, yes! – and carefully placed my laptop case in the bin above my seat.

Well, a late-arriving IB stumbled down the aisle with his way-too-big bag and proceeded to his seat in the row behind me. He opened the overhead compartment, took out my laptop case, put in his bag and tried to cram my laptop in the two inches above his stuff.

Naturally, it didn’t fit. So he started giving my case the two-handed shove to squeeze it in there like it was a pillow, then started slamming the compartment lid down. I was in stunned disbelief, and finally said “Hey!” with as much indignation as I could muster.

I then stood up and shot the guy the kind of look I reserve for serial killers and people who wear Jeter shirts at Mets games. Then I reopened the compartment, took out my case, unzipped it to see that the laptop was OK while shaking my head in disgust. Then, for good measure, I shot him “the stare,” hoping that my new edgy haircut would take the guy down a couple notches.

Alas, IBs don’t care about what other people think.

Yes, that's a kitty. Let the cat out of the bag!

Purse puppies

It used to be that occasionally you’d see people trying to bring their pets on flights, and they’d have these large and elaborate carriers that were stowed with the luggage.

But on this trip I saw at least four people with tiny dogs they were carrying around in their purses the same way my daughter carries her stuffed puppy in her tote bag.

What the heck? When did dogs become accessories?

And I’m violently allergic to these things. I have no idea what would have happened had one of these IBs with purse puppies sat next to me – other than that it would be a heck of a lot easier to start sneezing if the guy in front leaned the seat back.

Even stranger, I later saw a lady with a cat in a mesh backpack. I have no idea how she got it in there – and there was precious little room for the kitty – and how it was being so calm.

Edgy people would rather ride motorcycles than fly. Ignore the kickstand -- or the fact that the motorcycle isn't actually moving. OK, Dad let me pose on his birthday present.

But like I said, all these thoughts vanish in the arms of loved ones at the other end of the trip.

It’s a lot more fun gathering for a celebration than for a funeral, as was the case earlier this year. And we had much fun reconnecting and laughing, having deep discussions while lamenting that the Jets’ offense didn’t show up on Sunday, and that the Mets didn’t show up for the post-season.

And for the record, the family liked the new haircut – but said it is not even close to being edgy.


John Murray said...

It was great having you in town Dave, We hope to see you again soon.

Anonymous said...

Family, Flying, and Attorneys,
Alas my close friend and cousin, the so called “hey day” of flying is over. No more suits and ties, no more meals (the honey roasted peanut are even gone) – probably someone died due to an allergy, yada, yada, yada. In fact, I am convinced the seats and so called leg room are getting several centimeters smaller each year. Either that or I am getting larger (I will assure you, however, it is not in centimeters). They use centimeters so we “dumb American’s” won’t catch on.
United did have a flicker of elegance however. For the first class passengers, and the frequent flyers, there is a 3 X 4 foot red carpet (no larger than a door mat, I kid you not!). And here is the kicker. When they are done calling those passengers, the only other people able to board have to look exactly like Steven Hawkins, or sorry pal, you’re waiting. My sweet little 6 year old girl wasn’t even allowed to board early. Now I know she is not handicapped, thank goodness, but she isn’t that astute of the urgency of boarding a flight, especially with a back-pack and a large stuffed animal in tow. So, after all of the important folks get on, then, they let the slovenly lower class climb aboard. And get this, they rope off the red carpet, God forbid the unworthy touch such a sacred entity. So much to the delight of my six year old, as we passed the red carpet, each times (three times yesterday) I stepped on the red carpet and announced the fact loudly to the appreciative slovenly crowd. Granted it was just a quick step, but it was a blow for democracy and equal rights for all (all right I was just being a smart ass, but it felt good!) Another incredible stroke of genus is United’s boarding pass system. Unlike that discount airlines Southwest, which uses an A-B-C on the boarding pass. United uses a much more clever system, a 1-2-3, system. Think about it, some genus got a free flight to Australia coming up with that one. I can hear the pitch. “So Hector, any ideas to stream line our boarding?” “Well, um, you know how like that other airline uses the A-B-C system?” A Collective knowing nod and hush falls over the conference room –no doubt covered with red carpet- “we can use a 1-2-3 system on our boarding passes!” “Brilliant” says April, “it’s sort of multi-lingual”, “Heck of an idea” says June, “I could barley figure out that cumbersome letter system” July refuses to say a thing; pissed that Hector for stole “her” idea!
But, I would be remise if I didn’t add one modern feature which makes flying tolerable, besides the lack of food, cramped seating and the 350 lb guy who ALYWAYS sits next to me - at least smoking is no longer legal, thanks to wonderful attorneys’, like my cousin Samantha (OK, I’m trying to dig out of a huge whole I dug this weekend).

Love to my Whole Family
Thanks for a great weekend!!!


Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Tim, you touched the red carpet? Are you crazy? Don't you know that they usually send the goons for people who dare step on the red carpets?

And Delta used "zones." The guy at the counter told me I was in Zone 5. I had no idea what he was talking about. "Is that good?" I asked. "I guess," he said. But no, it was not good because that was the flight where I was next to the window. And the people on the aisle and middle seats must have been in zones 1-4 because they were already there and had to move when I came along. Now, I asked "What's the point of the zones if it's going to tie up the aisle as people get out of their seats to let me in?"

The president need to hear about this stuff and get involved!

Anonymous said...

Now Dave,
I love you like a brother. But the President? He's way to bogged down with important issues like, "Now, honey, where did you say that damn bathroom is in this house again", and "I know, I know, I promise I won't call him Gorbachev when we meet," "plus I think Putin is kind of a funny name...git it,... funny, like poo and tan, heh, heh, get it Dick,... Dick....stop pointing that rifle this way, you know you ain't a good shot!!" “Where was you when daddy could have used a shot into that other Quayle?” Or my favorite "isn't it time we made Cuba a state, all those people want to fly their American flags with pride, and it’s been way too long since they ain't been allowed Statehood (plus I think it would be really neat to have 50 states for once). Of course I meant Puerto Rico, I was just joshing y'all.”
Sorry Dave, you threw me a Heilman.
Love ya,

Anonymous said...

I'm astounded, no clever retort defending the Commander-in-Chief, or are you just being polite to your cousin. By the way, my Mother stole your Jets shirt. Sorry Mom, I had to come clean, can’t have that hanging over my head.

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Hey I didn't need to defend the commander. You, however, might have to start packing for Gitmo...That domestic spying thing means they're watching.

I think I have my shirt. I'll have to check!

Anonymous said...

That's OK, I'll just hide behind some books.
How about those Bosox...Uncle Dave?