Monday, November 02, 2009

Flying the Grumpy Skies

I think I have recovered from the flight back from Los Angeles on Friday. My neck is back to "normal" (that being a relative term, since it's stiff and painful all the time, anyhow), my suitcase arrived on time (without the lock being twisted off, as it had been when I arrived in LA...nothing stolen, amazingly enough), and I'm looking forward to not having to fly anywhere else until we go to Ohio for Thanksgiving.

Life is good.

Of course, being who I am, I have several observations about the joys of travel ...

1. When you board at the gate, most airlines have two lines for boarding: one for First Class and other "premium" passengers, and one for Real People. The line for First Class usually has a strip of red carpet about 4 feet long; the other line usually has a blue carpet. Other than that, there's absolutely no difference - the two lines are located side-by-side and lead directly to the same door. Where I come from, this is called stupid.

2. I've always been amazed at the very flexible interpretation many people have about what constitutes a "carry on" and a "personal item," especially now that most airlines charge a hefty fee for each checked bag. The fight for overhead storage space has grown vicious, and the size of bags people try to stuff into that space continues to grow. Boarding and deplaning now take much longer as people try to carry their upright pianos and steamer trunks on board, steadfastly refuse to put "smaller" bags underneath the seats, and raise cain with the flight attendants when they are asked to check bags that are clearly too big to bring on board.

2a. Corollary to #2: when your aircraft boards by "zones" rather than by row number, and your "zone" has a number larger than 2, good luck getting an overhead space for your bag. When the aircraft boards by rows, many people sitting at the rear of the aircraft put their bags in the overhead bins at the front, meaning that the people in the forward seats may end up having to stow their bags in the can imagine the result when time comes to deplane, and the folks in Row 10 have to fight their way back to row 29 to get their bags.

3. The airlines are always looking for new ways to save time and money, and I can understand that. The latest interesting twist on this came on my last flight, when the flight attendants asked everyone to carefully clean their seat areas so that the cleaning crews could turn the aircraft around faster for the next flight. Now, I always police up my trash anyhow (I don't like to leave my seat looking like my desk at home, dontcha know), and it's just good manners and courtesy to do it ... but I resented - already having been asked to pay extra to check my bag and been asked (unsuccessfully) for $3.00 for a "gourmet chocolate chip cookie," - also being asked to clean the aircraft.

4. The Hertz rental car return location at Los Angeles International Airport is not located at the address given on the Internet. It took me an extra 15 minutes of aimless driving to find it after my GPS took me to the designated address, only to find a vacant lot.

For the next couple of weeks, I'm not traveling any farther than the local shopping centers. And after that, I'm flying the grumpy skies.

Good thing I'm already an old grouch.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Amanda said...

I can't imagine that they would actually ask you to clean up your own area! I would have resented that too.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

You always reaffirm my belief that if you can't get their by car or train that it isn't worth the trip.

Jay said...

Airlines refusal to enforce their carryon policies has always annoyed me. It's strange that they charge for checked baggage and not carryon. Although I guess all the young mommies would throw a fit if they had to pay to carry their baby bag, plus the bag with the spoiled little brats toys AND a stroller the size of a Cadillac. But, it would be nice if the airlines would do something about the carryon problem.

Mike said...

You've just reminded me of my 20 hour transit to Prague that I had finally blocked out of my mind. Thanks.