Flying the Unfriendly Skies
I love to travel, but hate to fly. Recently I needed to make a trip to Omaha for a wedding and seriously entertained other options besides air travel, i.e., car, bus, camel. I even called Carnival and said, “Are you sure you don’t offer a cruise to Nebraska?” The answer was no and, in the end, flying was the only practical option.
Honestly. Does anyone like flying anymore, beside bats, bees and Superman?
The ordeal, of course, starts with security. You try to follow all rules (shoes off, laptop out of case, gold fillings pried from mouth), but invariably a forgotten paper clip in your pocket sets off alarms, and you’re treated to a thorough pat down from the girl you beat out for the cheerleading squad, who is now a burly and embittered TSA agent.
Then there’s boarding. Your zone is always called last: “Passengers in Zone 13 may now board. That includes screaming babies, toddlers who kick seat backs, passengers with communicable illnesses and people with pungent corn beef and cabbage sandwiches they plan to eat during the trip.
You get on the plane and the overhead compartments are full. The flight attendant takes your bag and the next time you see it is two years later on the sale table at Goodwill.
On the way to your seat, you have to schlep your shabby self through first class. The first-class people are tucked in with their cocktails and plush blankets, content as Persian cats. They avoid eye contact with you, the great unwashed coach passenger. You pick up a pillow in the first-class cabin, foolishly thinking it’s for general use. The flight attendant gasps and scurries off with it, presumably to rid it of coach-class cooties.
You finally reach row 878-B and are presented with a shoe horn to squeeze yourself into the narrow area where you’ll be spending the next few hours.
When you’re in the air, flight attendants try to sell you extras: Would you like to purchase bathroom privileges? For a small fee, they’ll also guarantee complete cabin pressurization for the duration of your flight. And in the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop from the ceiling and, as soon as you insert your credit card, you’ll be able to breathe freely.
Snacks? Forget it. Well, admittedly they sometimes toss you the world’s smallest peanut package. Most airlines also offer free beverage service, but beverage carts move slower than the last 15 minutes of a football game. You look up and see that the cart is only five seats away; an hour later it’s only moved an inch.
Oddly once you finally get your beverage, time travels at warp speed. You take one sip of your drink and the flight attendant is already racing down the aisle with a trash bag.
Finally the plane lands and all indignities are forgiven because you are alive, intact and on terra firma. You impulsively give the pilot a grateful hug and are whisked away to be interrogated by the authorities.
Two weeks later you get another invitation to a wedding. You call Carnival and say, “Please tell me you have a cruise to Boise.”
Karin Gillespie has decided to nail her mailbox shut so she won’t get any more wedding invitations. Visit her at Karingillespie.net.