It was “up, up & away” for me again today as I was once again winging my way across the not so friendly skies. Back in the 1970’s, perky stewardesses from National Airlines innocently smiled and invited us to “Fly Me ! I’m Cindy !”. Flying in America was classy & fun. Nowadays however, common decency & decorum have disappeared and the airlines have grabbed their collective crotches like an erstwhile Michael Jackson while telling passengers to “Fly This !”. Air travel now has all the glamour & appeal of a bus trip to Gary, IN. By the time I land tomorrow night back in Newark, I will have achieved Platinum Elite Status in my frequent flyer program and all I can say to that is “whoop-de-doo !”. While it does mean that I will get a few extra perks when I do fly like warm cashews & wider seats, it also means that I will have spent way too much of my time on airplanes. I really don’t think that I am telling anyone anything earth shattering or that they don’t already know but it makes me feel good to vent and so vent I shall.
As I mentioned earlier, there was time in the history of air travel where flying was seen not as an entitlement but as more of a privilege. People dressed nicely and they were civil to each other. Now a great many passengers look like they just rolled out of bed and put on whatever didn’t smell that bad from the dirty laundry pile in the corner. Don’t even get me started on those folks that insist on taking off their shoes when they get on the plane. This isn’t your living room folks. Put them back on. I really don’t want to see & or smell your feet.
A quick aside, I read this morning that researchers at the esteemed Oxford University had successfully implanted a memory into the brain of a fruit fly that told it that tennis sneakers smelled bad. Why I ask ? I would think that any single cell organism or above on the evolutionary chain would be able to figure that one out. I do wonder if there is a way to employ this technology on those inconsiderate folks that take their shoes off on the plane ? But I digress…..
The airlines certainly haven’t helped any with their nickel & diming of passengers with their increasingly petty & loathsome fees for “extras” like checking luggage. These obscene charges have resulted in larger & larger bags being considered “carry on” by a great many of my fellow passengers. Bags so fat that they can barely roll down the aisle. Bags so big that they can’t possibly fit into the overhead getting repeatedly jammed & jammed into the overhead thus holding up everyone else trying to elbow their way down the aisle so they too can repeatedly try to jam their bag into a too small space before some other schlub gets to it first. Don’t forget that indignant passenger with the oversized bag who barely makes it onto the flight who finds that all the overheads are already crammed to capacity with other passenger’s crap and they will have to actually gate check their monstrosity. I am sure that there is a special circle of hell for these people but I am not sure where it is because the gate has been switched 3 times in the last 15 minutes.
Another quick aside, since this is now the 2nd time in a week that I have had the pleasure of seeing “UP” on one of my flights, who took all the pictures of Carl & Ellie in the “Stuff I’m Going To Do” section of Ellie’s scrapbook ? But again I digress….
The nickel & diming really only starts with the baggage but also extends to the food that is ‘served’ on some airlines. Free is few & far between and what is free really isn’t going to get a Michelin Rating unless we are talking about how it resembles chewing on a tire. What they try to sell you isn’t much better so a great many people have taken to bringing every type of concoction they can get past security without it being classified as a missing Iraqi WMD. Just the aroma of what the folks in the row behind me 2 flights ago would have been enough to send a fruit fly in search of a rancid tennis sneaker no matter what had been implanted in their brains.
The one group of people I do feel sorry for in all of this mess are the flight attendants. Now I have never been on a flight where the flight attendant had actual control of the flight or where they had any say as to whether air traffic control was going to put the plane in an interminable holding pattern or where they had anything to do with your middle seat getting double booked but they do catch all of the heat. Listen people, it’s not their fault. Blame Mother Nature for the turbulence. Blame the airlines for overscheduling flights in & out of airports that can’t possibly handle the traffic. Blame your fellow passengers for not gate checking the bag that they stuffed Grandma & 2 of the kids into so they wouldn’t have to pay extra for a seat thus delaying the “pushback” from the gate. Blame the surly gate agent who has been yelled at by every other over entitled passenger for double booking your seat. Just leave the flight attendants alone. It’s not their fault that someone else grabbed the last pillow or bought the last bottle of overpriced Heineken. They want to get off the plane as much as you do. Trust me.
And that is the view for now from Behind The Shades……until next time, swampy abides….
A Trip to Los Angeles, Part One: Manuela
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