Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thoughts on Air Travel

Mr. Lime and I have returned from Colorado where the bike trip reunion was held.  We arrived Wednesday and Returned Saturday.  What a whirlwind of a trip.  I wish we had a longer time but the time we had was fun and full of activities.  I also took....uh....a LOT...of pictures...345 to be exact.  I think that may be close to the sum total of pictures I took back in 1987 during the 65 days the trip lasted for me.  Ah the joys of a 16GB memory card as opposed to the bulk and cost of film, though it sure does create a lot to cull and edit.  This week promises to be quite busy as I've returned to work and later in the week will be helping Diana move into a new apartment.  While you wait for stories and pictures I have a few thoughts on the indignity or air travel today.

As soon as we arrived at check-in it became apparent that the caste system is alive and well at airports.  There's not even the slightest attempt to suggest any level of egalitarianism.  If you are preferred you go to the head of the line. Of course this has been going on forever in the form of first and business class seating for those who can afford to pay.  And ok, whatever.  They get to check in quicker, board first,  not get nickeled and dimed to death the way cattle class does.  No surprises there.  But I noticed there was also an expedited way through the TSA checkpoints and that truly grinds my gears.  Yes, there's a thriving caste system, only at the airport the untouchables are at the top of the hierarchy and don't face the invasion of privacy the rest of the lesser beings do.

In the Denver airport I had the distinct displeasure of being put through a full body scanner for the first time.  I can't even tell you how much that pissed me off.  It made me wish I had a pair of these.  Since I didn't, I gave the TSA agents the laser death stare and muttered the 4th amendment.

I mentioned being a part of cattle class because going through an airport is not unlike being herded like cattle.  We are somewhat more intelligent than cattle but anyone who has traveled knows we are all conditioned to just move along as efficiently as we can, not to make waves.  Just have everything ready for the folks checking documents and don't gunk up the process in any way.  Hesitate and the electrified prods come out.

The airlines will also hook up the milker to our wallets and suck us dry.  Need clothes?  Ok, $25 to check a bag.  (It pays to be a nudist.)  Need water?  Ok, $4 for a liter of bottled water because you'd better not try to carry your own tap water from home.  That's a serious threat to national security!  Four dollars a liter though?  If that were gasoline we'd be paying almost $12 a gallon.  The populace would riot in the streets if we had to pay $12/gallon for gas but we fork it over for something that covers 75% of the Earth and if we have manners we thank the clerk who just raped our wallet.  Need food?  No problem, that'll be $8 for 4 crackers, a handful of grapes, 3 apple slices and 4 bites of cheese.  My favorite optional charge was for 7 extra inches of legroom...because, of course, taking your legs with you is just so unnecessary.  On the way home Mr. Lime and I were seated in the last row and warned it did not recline at all.  Mr. Lime asked if 7 extra inches of legroom cost more money did that mean the inability to recline would get us a discount.  The agent at check-in looked at him as if he were a newly discovered life form from Mars.  I'm willing to be the Mars rover Curiosity was roomier than the last row.

Finally, a word to parents flying with small children.  I used to do this. I understand.  I swear I do.  I look upon you with pity because you are about to be locked inside a metal tube with a couple hundred other people.  There is no escape.  There is great potential for much misery and the withering scowls and audible eye rolls of your fellow passengers do nothing to reassure you that all will be well.  I've been on the receiving end of those glares.  You have my empathy and patience and I will not assume the flight will be miserable merely because of the presence of your child.  I've seen a lot of  young children do very well on flights.  That said, if you are seated next to me with your small children and you feed them nothing but sugar for the duration of the four hour flight do not expect me to smile beatifically when the child is jumping up and down and shouting in my ear or crawling all over me.

Ok, now that I've covered the irksome indignity of air travel you can look forward to ruminations on how time changes everything and nothing, the fun that was had, the best pictures that were taken, and the joy of reuniting with a group of adventurers.


10 comments:

coopernicus said...

At $12/gallon the riots would last a day, followed by all the SUVs and minivans lined up to pay the fare.

Hope you got outside Denver to some of the more picturesque areas of CO...

Stephen Hayes said...

Air travel certainly isn't what it used to be. I always end up with a screaming kid next to me. And they seem to think that armrest is for them.

Uncle Skip, said...

Couldn't this post have waited one more day ...until after we fly back across the country?

BTW - we might have been at the Denver airport at the same time last Wednesday.

Craig said...

I rarely fly any more; I think I've only flown once since 9-11. Haven't had the pleasure of those full-body scanners, just yet.

A few years ago, we gave a bottle of wine to some friends who were visiting us, and they packed it in their checked bags, and it still got confiscated. I think the TSA guys just wanted to have a party in the break room. . .

Years ago, we flew to California w/ four kids under 10. On the whole, I think they were pretty well-behaved, but by the third hour or so, we were just exhausted from trying to keep the little ones happy and occupied. Walking up and down the aisle seemed to work, but I think the stewardesses (or whatever they're called these days) were getting annoyed with us. . .

Daryl said...

those who get expedited through security have gone through an extensive background check weeks prior to getting that status, I know this because I work for someone who got it .. and trust me, the paperwork is just as demeaning as the full body scan.. oh dont ever wear jeans or pants or even a skirt with any decorative (albeit still functional) zippers because you will get patted down ... I know because I was that stupid.

haphazardlife said...

I experienced both the scan and the manual search. Given the choice, I much prefer the scan to having someone stick their hand between my legs and on my boobs. I find it a helluva lot less invasive actually.

The funniest thing about this so called security though, is that it isn't proactive at all. Do they seriously think that terrorists will use chemicals in water to shake up their bomb next time? Or have a bomb in their shoes? It only serves to make people think that they're safer, which is total bullshit. Nobody has been safe in the history of humanity. Get used to it.

Craig said...

@Hap - you make a great point: by the time 'security' is prepared for the last bomb, the next one is already getting ready for deployment. It's like drug-testing - the 'preventers' are perpetually stuck reacting to the cleverness of the 'bad guys'.

Suldog said...

I could rant for a few paragraphs myself, but you've pretty much covered it. I used to love flying. I dread it now. Whenever possible, I take the train. I will even take the damn bus, and bus travel is the worst.

Kat said...

Ugh. I know. Flying used to be so fun. No it is a dredge. Blech.

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