Friday, August 20, 2010

Not Exactly Flying Away

Aiports should have a sign up that reads, "Welcome to downtown Calcutta!" right next to the one that reads, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." You'd have plenty of time to read the signs as you stand in a half-mile long line to go through security from the street and another four block line to go through security to the gates.

For some reason a number of families decided to take to the skies yesterday and most groups were accessorized with a crying infant. One woman had trundeled her 18-month old (?) to three different gates and waits for a flight out. The kid was not best pleased and let the world know about in piercing tones. I had to step closer to the podium to hear what the gate lady was saying -- and she was blaringly loud.

If you are "lucky enough" (snort) to get on, you will then face an aisle crowded with people, each attempting to hoist a carry-on the size of a steamer trunk into an overhead in. They are always quite puzzled when it doesn't fit. Wonderingly, they stare at it. But rather than resigning themselves to handing it over to a FA, they try a different angle to wedge it in. The FA, blocked at the head of the aisl, can't do much more than shout, "If you bag won't fit in the overhead, contact a flight attendant and we will take care of it."

There are no empty seats. Every single seat has a derriere in it. Many of the self-styled road warriors also have their laptops out and are working. Good luck getting past them to go to the john. Apparently each person is working on something of utmost importance and by forcing them to close it or move it, you are risking our national security.

There are no amenities such as a blanket, pillow or food other than a wrap sandwich (always turkey) and "snack boxes" (salt, grease and sugar.) American now has a new wrinkle -- if you want to sit in the first three or four rows of Coach (for a quicker exit) you pay for it. I seem to remember that it's $100, possibly less.

On arrival it takes at least half an hour for the capitalist swine up front in Business or First to gather their belongings and deplane. The rest of us, cowlike, stand in the aisles(s) shifting, bovine-like from hoof to hoof, necks craned at an awkward angle because of the overhead bins.

There is always one poor soul who figures out, "Oh! We've landed! I need to get my bag!" at the moment that all of the rest of us are staggering toward the front of the plane.

None of it is pretty.

There are diversions aboard. Going to Chicago recently, we flew through some turbulence and a woman a couple of rows up from us in the center section screamed, "Whoooooo!" periodically. I thought it was funny and grinned, but Richie was less than amused. In fact, now that I think about it, he looked a little green.

And that's pretty much flying today. Miserable. Richie vowed that we will never fly non-revenue again. But .. we're scheduled to flly to JFK in mid-September and I put us in First and it looks good for those, the dilemma is: do we want to pay money to ride in Steerage or take our chances and get First? First and Business classes are not free to us (as Coach is) but the cost compared to buying a civilian ticket is miniscule. Decisions, decisions...

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