Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Joy of Travel - A Rant

 I am typing this and the prior post at 35,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, on our flight from Paris to Miami. I am reminded of how the logistics of travel is no longer fun, and hasn't been for a long time. Our world has changed and it has impacted travel as well as other facets of our lives. It is something we must endure to get to the places we want to go. So allow me to rant a moment. We arrived at the airport 2 ½ hours before our scheduled departure, after an expensive 7 AM taxi ride from our hotel, as we opted to avoid the schlepping of our luggage up and down metro station stairs. That was the easy part. We managed to get through the initial security check with little difficulty (you know the questions like, “Who packed your bag?”, “Did anyone give you anything to carry on the flight?”, etc), but when we went to get our boarding passes, we were told that our “carry-on” sized luggage was not permitted and we had to check our luggage. We pack light so we don't have to check luggage, so this was a disappointment although we figured it wasn't about the size of the luggage as much as the heightened security measures resulting from the Mr. Pants-on-Fire Detroit passenger from a couple of weeks ago. Check our bags we did, and received our boarding passes with instructions to proceed to the security screening without delay as it would be a slow process. Wrong! Ms. American Airlines. To our amazement, we breezed through the security checkpoint, laptop out, shoes removed and all. There was virtually no line which made us wonder why? The departure board, and our boarding passes indicated that our flight would be delayed 45 minutes. So we stopped for a light breakfast at a cafe, checked out some of the gift shops, before proceeding to our gate area. In the gate area we noticed some passengers with carry-on luggage the same size as ours, but why were they allowed their bag, and we were not? Eh? We were there about 30 minutes, with another 15 minutes or more before our revised boarding time, when our boarding group was called to proceed to the plane (or so we thought). Not so fast weary traveler. In small groups of four or five people, we were led to another security checkpoint on the jetway to the plane, which was much more thorough than the first. While no x-ray screening, we had to remove everything from our pockets, remove our shoes again, get scanned by a wand, and be patted down. Any carry-on was thoroughly searched. Obviously, this was a slow time-consuming process, but I guess necessary, although a definite annoyance. Finally all passengers on our flight were frisked, and herded (yes, the reference to the mass movement of animals is intentional) onto the plane, where we now sit with only inches between us and the seat in front. We pulled away from the gate only two hours after our originally scheduled departure time. I don't have a solution to the security issues, but it seems like there must be a better way. Then again, I have to remind myself, that it is not about the “getting there”, it is about the “being there”. I would go through all of this inconvenience again to travel to a destination of my choosing.
That's All I'm Saying


Piglet's Buddy said...

To my friends Dick and Frank,
It's obvious that you had a wonderful time. I looke forward to hearing more about it. And when you do, you can interpret the many dishes about which I have no clue. (Is my Cuban sandwich ready yet?) :-)


Denise Dickerhoof said...

So glad you had such a wonderful time, and that you are back safely. Dick - you better watch out. Frank's quite a good blogger. He could give you a run for your money! Hope to catch up soon.

Paul said...

This is why I plan to take a page from Air New Zealand's safety video and start "Naked Air." I just need TSA approval for a special security line and procedures for our "nothing to hide here" customers.

Luggage won't be a problem either as "Naked Air" won't allow checked bags (save fule) and carry-ons will be restricted to a clear one quart zip-top bag only.

As a side benefit, sales at airport stores (especially for trench coats) will be brisk driving sales tax into local governments. It will transform the economy.


Dick said...

Paul, and we won't have to spend tax money on body scanners. But, be careful - do you really want to be seated next to some of the people you see on an airplane, even fully dressed.

Bob - thanks for your kind words, we will be happy to interpret our meals for you, although me thinks you jest.

Denise - yes, Frank is a much better writer than I. Now if I could only get him to write more.

Chat with everyone soon.