Flying into 2010

Flying into the next decade is for the birds.
Literally.  If you are physically unable to expand your wings and catch the breeze, forget flying. Take it from me, frequent flyer extraordinaire; human air travel is perilous in the 21st century.  A normal 7 to 8 hour flight to Europe (depending on tail winds) took a day.

Three factors contribute to today’s aerophobia – natural elements, terrorist threat, and airline
personnel.  Summer storms and winter blizzards make flying in and out of the Midwest challenging any season.  Our flight out of Minneapolis was delayed due to the late arrival of our incoming plane from Amsterdam, which was further detained due to « minor aircraft impairment » during a rough landing due to ground conditions.  Over share.  I would rather not be informed about structural damage. At regular intervals a stewardess announced, « KLM/Northwest/Delta Flight 258
to Amsterdam will be delayed another hour.  Boarding in 20 minutes. Oops, no detained 45 more minutes. Suddenly, boarding in 5 minutes.
Passengers were stressed out before they entered the plane.
In theory, checking in on-line is more convenient, but seats on our return flight were « unattributed » because KLM partnered with Northwest, who was taken over by Delta. KLM on-line sign-in sent us to NWA on-line, who sent us back to KLM.
At the airport’s « easy self check-in, » machine, we were still unable to print a boarding pass, so we requested old-fashioned human assistance. The airline worker at the check-in desk informed us that we would each have to pay $50 for a second piece of luggage and another $50 for seat assignment.  Good try! We argued. In the end she waved us on, claiming an overbooked flight so seating
could only be assigned at the gate.  We joined the long line of anxious flier wannabees at the gate.
After finally receiving our boarding passes, the hostess requested volunteers to take later flights because of lack of available space.  Two hours later, she announced,  « I have just been
informed the plane is bigger than we anticipated, so I invite everyone without seating to report to our desk immediately. »  How can a flight attendant mistake a plane’s seating capacity? Between security procedure updates, airline buy outs and cost cut backs, changes are implemented so rapidly that no one knows what is going on, least of all airline personnel.
As airlines struggle to survive by making major cutbacks, long gone are above-the-clouds open bars. Cocktails now cost $7. Snacks another $3. Thank you very much. Services are replaced by machines.  With on-line bookings, travel agents are a thing of the past.  I miss them, the only earthlings that could decipher the airline jargon. No one understands the lingo- deplane, offload luggage, transit station-all ploys to keep passengers updated without revealing any information
because no one knows what is going on.
But as the Christmas Day bomber reminded everyone, the biggest worry is air security.
Terrorist threats abound. With pace makers, belt buckles and body part replacements setting off alarms, everyone is jumpy.  I look forward to the new full body x-ray machines, so we wont have to strip down at every security checkpoint. While we waited at our boarding gate, CNN flashed Breaking News about Obama’s new Homeland Security measures, while an entire regiment of TSA workers patrolled like in a police state. In air, I added to the excitement by reporting a suspect, a green hooded, fidgety young man who remained in the toilet for over 15 minutes!
Alas, 22 hours after leaving Minneapolis in a blizzard and missing our connection in Amsterdam, we landed in the snow at Geneva where, miraculously, our baggage arrived in one piece in spite of the
baggage-handlers’ strike at the airport.
Murphy’s law best describes air travel in the 21st century: what can go wrong will go wrong. My advice: Take knock out drops before boarding.  Squeeze into spouse’s carry-on luggage. Wake up only after arrival at the final destination. Enjoy!
Posted in social view.

2 Comments

  1. This sure sounds familiar!

    I have come to realize in recent years that it pretty much takes a day to fly almost anywhere. By the time you get ready for your trip, wait for the taxi, go through security, wait for your flight (which may or may not take off on time) fly to your destination, wait for your luggage, get your rental car….a day is gone. Maybe it was always that way and we just chose to think of it as "a quick two-hour flight". At any rate, international travel is that much more inconvenient. Recently on a trip to Spain, after missing our connection (airline's fault not ours) they told us the five of us would not fit on the plane but one of us HAD to fly to Malaga because our luggage was on there. Hmmm, should I send my 11 year old alone or should I go and leave three kids with the hubby? Fortunately my husband called their bluff and said, "Well we're not splitting up so pull our luggage." Suddenly, they "found" five seats on the plane.

    Travel by plane hasn't been much fun since they did away with air hostesses and tiny vinyl flight bags. I feel your pain!

  2. Hi Judy,
    I have been enjoying following your exploits as a Righteous Housewife. You are very brave flying with 3 kids! Why did you decide to travel to Spain? Have you been to France or Switzerland?
    Thanks for your comment. Keep writing! Pat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.