Flying the Friendly Skies

Flickr photo by David Jones

Next week, SuzyQ and I will be headed off on a college visit.  The college is a time zone away.  You know what that means.  We have to fly there.  And I’m dreading it.

This isn’t about fear.  I have never understood people who are afraid to fly.  Hasn’t anyone ever pointed out to them that they are a whole lot more at risk driving?  How many car wrecks were there in your area today?  On any given day here there are at least 3-4 major crashes that tie up the morning and evening rush hours.  A couple of those a week will involve a fatality.  Now, when was the last plane crash? 

The whole terrorist threat thing doesn’t really scare me either.  Common sense tells me that any terrorist worth his salt isn’t going to use the same method twice.  It’s the element of surprise, being caught off guard, that makes terrorist attacks work.  My theory is that I’m more at risk attending a major sporting event, going to a big shopping mall, or visiting a major tourist attraction than I am getting on a plane.

No.  My problem with flying is the whole pain in the rear end that it has become:

Air Fares:  I graduated summa cum laude from college.  I’m a Phi Beta Kappa member.  I’m married to a nuclear-trained engineer.  How is it then, that between us we can’t figure out the best time to purchase an airline ticket without getting gouged??  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that within 4 days, the fare for my upcoming trip doubled and then got cut in half again.  Same trip, same dates, same airline.  Let’s face it, there is no formula for pricing, no calculus, no rules.  It’s just the airlines screwing around with us.

Packing:  I could be wrong, but I believe you are not supposed to bring luggage of any kind when you travel by air these days.  Want to check a bag?  Fine.  That’ll be $25 for the first one and $35 for the second.  Decide to save money and just bring a carry on?  Good luck.  Not only is the competition for an overhead bin cut-throat, but most planes flying domestically are those mini-planes.  You’re lucky if you can fit your balled-up coat in those overhead bins.  Besides, you can’t bring anything you really need in your carry-on bag anymore.  Long gone are the days when we could fly with 5–count them, 5!–huge suitcases at no extra charge.

The kids insist on not revealing their secret identities!

Food:  This is one of the biggest scams to come out of the tragedy of the 9/11 hijackings.  In order to cut costs, airlines quit serving meals on domestic flights.  Sure, you can buy their over-priced snack box and get a sandwich (age: undetermined) and piece of fruit.  You can also grab something from one of the fine restaurants in the secure part of the airport ($8 for a slice of warmed-over pizza).  But whatever you do, NEVER EVER bring your own food from home.  It will be confiscated by security.  If you do manage to get it through security, it will be crushed, crumbled, or otherwise inedible after being squashed into your mini carry-on bag.

Screening:  Wonder what the procedure will be on the day of my flight.  It seems like every time you turn around, the TSA has decided that something else needs tweaking.  Shoes off; no belts; empty pockets; jewelry off; coats off.  Get ready to set off the alarm if you wear an underwire bra or can’t get your wedding ring off.  And you know what that means!  Pat-down!  You will be searched in a way reserved up until now for suspected criminals.  Or choose the naked body scan:

Yep.  All the glamour and fun are gone from air travel.  Unless you are flying international and first class:

British Airways

 Well, a girl can dream.


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