What the heck happened to air travel? Do you remember when it was something enjoyable? I do. When I was a little girl, I was required to dress up in my “nice” clothes whenever we took a flight. The flight attendants gave me plastic pins shaped like wings. The trips seemed. . . well, “special.” Even in the not so distant (prior to 9-11) past, I enjoyed the convenience of quickly getting to where I needed to go. Now the trips are irritating and long. Although I will probably have to fly again soon, my recent trip to Baton Rouge via Atlanta has me convinced that flying is no way for human beings to travel. I won’t give you the blow-by-blow of my recent trip, but I do have a list of the five things I hate most about flying.
5. The traveler who has it all together. Ok, perhaps “hate” is too strong of a word; maybe it’s envy. But, seriously, as I struggle wearing the most comfortable clothes I can find (that don’t make me look like a vagabond), I marvel at those women who are always so wonderfully put together at the airport. I see them walking through the airports looking beautiful with their perfect coifs—curly, neo-soul afros or silky long locs, stylish outfits, designer rolling suitcases, and three-inch heels. How do they do it? Meanwhile, I look harried wearing jeans and a baseball cap. Whether I check my bags or drag them myself, I never have things quite “together.” (I will concede that part of this is because I am a “bag lady.” I can’t hurry up ‘cause I’ve got too much stuff.)
4. Cramped seats on the plane. Can these seats get any smaller? We’re packed in there like sardines! I have a bit of a phobia about strange people touching me, but there is no way to get around it. And wouldn’t you know it, I wound up with the flu after this trip. I’ve had the flu shot, so I blame it on all those “close encounters” with my fellow travelers. I’m thinking of wearing a surgical mask next time because I don’t have time to be sick. So, if you see me, don’t laugh.
3. The overpriced food in the airport. I hate the expensive food that lacks taste and poor service that goes along with it. ‘Nuff said.
2. TSA Checks. This was almost my number one, but then I had to demote it after my return trip. I suppose everybody hates these checks—putting all your liquid toiletries in a quart-sized Ziploc bag; stripping off your outerwear, hat, shoes, belt, and jewelry; passing through a scanner; and, finally, frantically getting re-dressed on the other side as the next passenger’s belongings come sliding out of the x-ray machine. It feels like going to prison instead of preparing to take a trip, but we have gotten used to these invasions of privacy that are supposed to keep us safe.
Apparently, my hair, which was twisted in anticipation of a twist-out the next day, was a security risk. The TSA officer told me that my hair had set off the machine and asked if I would allow her to pat my hair down (as if I could say “no” and still get on the airplane). So, she put her hands all up in and through my hair. I wish I had asked her what was it about my hair that was suspicious.
1. Delays, Delays, Delays. I had four different flight cancellations. My problem with cancellations is that they often seem random. There was no snow in ATL when I arrived. In fact, it was over 40 degrees outside, but my flight to Iowa had been canceled. The weather wasn’t bad, so what gives? There was no explanation, and I just felt helpless and hopeless.
I know that some people were delayed much longer, but it took me an extra day plus 13 hours to get home. I had never been quite so happy to touch down in the Hawkeye State. I also had to fly into a different airport, two hours away from home and the airport where my car was parked. I must have looked quite frazzled because a flight attendant rubbed my arm and said, “Good luck with whatever you’re going through,” as I exited the plane. Strange, I thought, but I had no time for chit-chat. My ride was waiting for me, and I had to get the heck outta there.
Even though this was an unpleasant experience for me, there were some lovely Delta Airlines employees who did their best to get me on alternate flights when mine were canceled. Shout out to telephone representatives Lola and Elaine and the young woman at the service desk in Atlanta, whose name I didn’t get. I’m sure they don’t pay y’all enough.