Posts Tagged ‘air travel’

Disgruntled pilots of the world, unite!

Friday, September 18th, 2009

And let me know what airline you’re all flying for so that I can avoid it.

I am in the process of going home.

While waiting in line today to find out what the odds were that I’d get off the waiting list and into first class (zero), I was standing behind one of the pilots. After lingering a while, I happened to glance down and notice that his luggage was decorated with bitter bumper stickers like:

  • “Is there a future for me here?” and a pair of dice. (I assume this has to do with the NWA/Delta merger.)
  • “I’ve had enough of the uncertainty” (ditto)

and – just so I didn’t think he was only angry with his employer

  • “You trust us in the air, why not in the security line? Special clearance passes for crew.”

Ummmm, correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Johnny Depp character in Blow get started by having his flight attendant girlfriend run the cocaine back to Boston in her bags?

That’s why no special line, buddy.

Should I die before I wake, here's a little memento for you.

Should I die before I wake, here's a little memento for you.

Go to more movies on your day off, and maybe cool your heels on announcing to the passengers at your mercy (and paying your wages, thank you very much) how miserable you are with your career. Let’s consider that on a ‘need to know’ basis.

I don’t need to know.

Meanwhile, I came very close to dry drowning on the very same flight. Those of you who did not spend their teens working as a lifeguard may not know that dry drowning is the phenomenon wherein someone can drown in a puddle of water. All it takes is a few tablespoons of water directly in the lungs and – sorry Charlie – you’re a goner.

In fact, I shouldn’t rush to use the phrase ‘came very close.’ I could still extinguish my own flame tonight seeing as dry drownings often occur a few hours after the original incident.

All the more reason to get this blog recorded now – while I’m still wedged into seat 12C – for posterity’s sake.

And here's a less squinty one from the really bad weather day. My brother was trying to capture how much the wind was whipping my hair around, which also caused about three cups of sand to blow into my eyes.

And here's a less squinty one from the really bad weather day. My brother was trying to capture how much the wind was whipping my hair around, which also caused about three cups of sand to blow into my eyes.

Anyway, I bought this rather huge bottle of water at the airport, and when I opened it, the plane jerked every so slightly and a giant geyser came shooting out of the bottle. A notable portion of it landed on me – although most of it went down my cleavage and my shirt only had one little tiny drop of wetness, which I guess is a good thing – whereas a significant portion went up my nose.

Yeah, you read that right (unfortunately): My bottled water went up my nose.

And no small amount. Enough that I started coughing and sputtering and felt the burn in my sinuses.

Now, if I had read the bottle beforehand, I would have learned that it is a special Poland Springs “Eco-Shape Bottle” designed with 30% less plastic which makes it, more or less, a water gun. It has no form. Truly, it borders on being a balloon.

Thus, exerting little to no pressure, one can easily maneuver the squishy decanter in order to fire a powerful torpedo of water right up your very own nose!

It’s cheaper than a Neti pot AND it’s good for the environment.


(And if you look up Neti pot on Google to find out how to spell it [as I did] or to find out what it is, and end up watching that YouTube video with the hairy wildebeest guy, don’t come crying to me. You’ve been warned.)


Speaking of noses, some stupid stowaway fly on the plane keeps landing on mine.

Hope he’s got relatives he can bunk with in Minneapolis…

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Nothing starts the morning like a couple three flights of vino

Monday, August 4th, 2008

So I’m on my 6:00 a.m. flight to Salt Lake City (from whence I connect to JFK), and my seat mates are making me want to puke. They are on their second mini bottles (each) of Fish Eye Cabernet Sauvignon…ON THE ROCKS. At 6:30 a.m. Don’t get me wrong, I like a party as much as the next guy, but cheap red wine on ice for breakfast!? Have you never heard of vodka or red beer?

On the other hand, maybe Fish Eye has overlooked a key market segment here? Or a partnership opportunity? Fish Eye Cab and Cheerios: Lower your cholesterol and catch a fun buzz!  ***Not responsible for strung out feeling, dry heaves, or killer headache that may set in around noon ***

So beyond my obvious judgment of these probably very nice and possibly alcoholic individuals, what’s really bugging me is that I can SMELL it. A lot. And it smells BAD. Actually, at the crack of dawn, it just smells plain old wrong.

However, such is life sometimes. Just as the last bottle was polished off and I thought perhaps the drinking would subside, the flight attendant showed up with a full plastic cup of red wine poured from a leftover bottle in first class. Naturally, my neighbors were thrilled…and requested more ice to go with it. Salud!

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Six impossible things before breakfast

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

So I recognize this blog is morphing a little bit from “reminiscences about my first solo backpacking trip through Europe in preparation for the second” into “why airline travel sucks,” but bear with me as I purge those demons. We still have 21 days left until I get on my flight to Iceland, so there’s ample time left to get through it all.

Meanwhile, I had to take a short little flight yesterday from a small, indiscriminate city in Ohio to the east coast. It was an AirTran flight, and although I’ve heard them referred to as “another Express Jet waiting to happen,” I weighed the odds (and the super discount fare), and figured I’d endeavor to survive it. 

Anyway, when I got there, the line to check in baggage stretched halfway across the airport…and wasn’t moving. Twenty minutes into my wait, I noticed the same family that had been at the self-service monitor when I arrived was STILL THERE. At first I thought maybe they’d biffed it somehow: like their baggage weighed 100 pounds apiece or contained their prized fireworks collection. Forty (!!!) minutes into the wait (this is simply to check bags, I hadn’t even faced security yet), I was close enough to the front to see that ONE guy was working the entire counter – and not well. People in the self-service lane (which had two monitors) would check themselves in, and then wait for ten minutes before the dude would come and put the tags on their bags. Then he’d return to the other end of the counter and the entire ‘process grinding to a halt’ scenario would repeat.

To my surprise, people were taking this more or less in stride. In fact, the only real pointed gripe I heard came from a seven-year old girl who looked at her mother and said with incredulity, “FORTY minutes to check bags!?”  However, when 25 minutes before the flight was to leave, a female AirTran employee came out from her siesta and announced that the baggage room for our flight was closed, a near riot erupted. At least 40 people by show of hands were still waiting to check bags, and the pushing and jostling and f-words started to erupt. I think I heard someone scream “Attica!”.  In the end, I made it on and somehow my bag did too, but in all honesty I’ve seen third world airlines do a better job than this particular arm of AirTran.

On another topic, while on my run this morning, I started thinking about all these different business ideas and alternative income strategies floating around in my head. I’d be lying if I said I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life or even where I wanted to live or spend my time or hang my hat, but I feel myself starting to think differently and really trying to see what’s possible. I think – at least for me – the biggest obstacle in my way has always been my own brain. For me, the mantra of the next 16 weeks will be to consider the impossible and find ways to do it anyway.

With that, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Alice in Wonderland, and my related thoughts of the morning:

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Most people may not find these things “impossible”, but considering the limitations I consistently place on myself, they’re downright fantastical considerations for me:

1. Keep and somehow do my job while I backpack Europe for 13 weeks.

2. Start a second blog to chronicle what I eat on the road – Anthony Bourdain on the cheap.

3. Somehow sell some inventions I have floating around in my head.

4. Move to Manhattan

5. Start a little restaurant serving fresh made organic juices and finger foods

6. Master time travel, go back and save Lincoln, Kennedy, and Malcolm X. Come back and see if that makes a big difference. If not, make some more trips and get rid of a few random folks – perhaps chosen out of a hat? Keep mixing it up until we have flying cars and Oprah is president. Then take a nap.

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Are you seriously going to die if I eat a peanut!?

Monday, July 7th, 2008

I’m traveling quite a bit this week, and I keep ending up on flights where people are not only allergic to peanuts, cashews, pistachios, or whatever…but no one else on the plane is allowed to have them either. Where is this coming from? Is the world getting more allergic or more paranoid or more “all about me” or some combo of the three? Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m not sympathetic to allergies and special needs and your right to smoke or shoot heroin or whatever…it’s just when your deal impacts everyone else around you. With all due respect, if your allergies are so extreme that the guy next to me sneaking some of his trail mix (sold to him on the plane!) might kill you, maybe you should consider a nice, airtight plastic bubble and a bus ticket?


Probably God will smite me for this annoyed observation, and I will find myself allergic to peanuts, cashews, pistachios, dust, dander, pollen, mosquitoes, Doritos, perfume, shoe leather, and human hair. I’ll be the bald one in the back row wearing the gas mask and clutching an anaphylactic shock kit.


Speaking of which, when I traveled to London in 1992 I was packing a very large bag of trail mix…and I was deathly afraid that they were going to seize it at customs. I had been living in California, and they’re pretty paranoid about what you bring into the state (bugs and all that), so I guess it put the idea in my head. As I’ve mentioned before, I was vegan at the time, and I had a fair amount of trepidation about how I was going to pull that off on an isle that considers blood sausage and head cheese national treasures. Nonetheless, I made it through customs, AND (to the best of my knowledge) I didn’t kill any wildly allergic fellow passengers. Rock on.



Day one of my announcement (via e-mail) and my boss has said NOTHING. That’s right. NOTHING.



I’m expecting a VERY long and boring day of meetings tomorrow (minus the part where I present, of course. Due in large part to the p.s. above, I am doubly motivated to shine). I hope to be able to do a little “looking like I’m taking lots of notes” writing and pick up where I left off with my arrival – and state of complete shellshock – in London.

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