Monday, January 26, 2015

Getting There is Half the Fun

  Recently, I took several trips across the pond, then back again, because apparently telling a certain travel-based website that you want to extend your trip makes them ask you for three times what the trip itself would cost. This meant that I had plenty of time on airplanes. Which is essentially a long metal tube filled with people you don't know who are going to spend the next 8 hours with you. I did this four times in the span of a month. I realize that people do it more, but this is my experience with it.

  Note: I know I said that I'd be posting stuff about London on Wednesdays, but this isn't really so much about "London" as it is about the trip there, which was a… we'll call it a less-positive experience, so I'm going to post this one separately. Plus, I've been away for a month, and I'm just getting back into the swing of things. You know how it goes.

   I used to take a lot of plane trips over the years. My father being in the military and my previous job requiring travel all over the country to the wilds of Seattle and wherever we're currently keeping "Texas" so flying isn't all that new to me, despite the fact that I haven't been up in the air in about four years. I figure it hadn't changed that much, and probably won't until we invent some kind of transporter device like they have in Star Trek. And for the most part, I was right. 

   The line for security was pretty much the same, as the TSA Agents directed you to where you were supposed to go with all the enthusiasm of a TSA Agent directing you where to go to have all of your possessions scanned by an X-Ray Machine. I was fortunate that I didn't have to take off my shoes for any of these times, I just had to stand there as I giant machine took pictures of my entire body. Which I guess is Star Trek like?

  Of course, then the real fun started when I was actually on the metal tube that, for the next 8 hours, was going to defy every law that Newton gave us and suspend itself in air, over an ocean and parts of Canada, and then somehow land safely in an entirely different country. Here's where I would throw in some joke about my ancestors fighting hard to get away from it, but to be honest with you, no part of me is really "English" and we didn't come over until way after the first colonies had been established.

  Also, for time's sake, I'm going to leave out the nearly three hour delay for my first flight. Yup. Three hours. On the one hand, it's pretty annoying to be delayed for three hours. I mean… that's three hours you're sitting on the tarmac, then they make you get off the plane. Plus you're flying into London Heathrow, which has a curfew, which means they stop letting planes into their country after a little while. But on the other hand, when it has to do with the mechanical parts… the stuff that keeps this multi-ton piece of metal aloft in the air, I'm going to have err on the side of, "sure, whatever it is you need to do."

  No, I'm going to discuss some of the fun involved with my fellow passengers. It is often said that "Hell is other people." Sartre obviously wrote this after a trans-Atlantic flight, and he didn't have to take his shoes off at the gate.

   I'd like to start with, of course, the boarding procedure. There's the pre-boarding in which people who legitimately need to get on the plane first rush forward, along with a few people who claim to be confused and then just saunter on up, hoping to be the first one on the plane to sit for a few hours while everyone else gets on the plane. Then they have "boarding zones" which I'm familiar with, but once again is less organized than "hey, let's all just smoosh forward because apparently they won't let us all on the plane. Yes, I'm in an aisle seat. Good luck to whoever is sitting at the window."

   This was less of an issue when I took my flight on New Year's Eve. If you want to have some real fun, take a flight on New Year's Eve. Giant plane, less than half full. I got a row to myself and it was magical.

   There's also the issue of the seats "reclining". Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I realize that you want to be as "comfortable" as possible in what the airlines lately have been generously referring to as "seats." But the recline feature doesn't really go back far enough to make you any more comfortable, it just sort of makes things annoying for the person in the seat in front of you. For instance, every seat on some flights now have a touch screen television right in front of you! That's attached to the back of someone else's seat. So, by reclining, for the whole flight, this now means the person behind you has to readjust literally everything so you get that one inch of pure, unadulterated recline. Must be magical.

  This also interferes, of course, with meal time.

  What's that you say? Airlines have stopped providing food? Well, I'm here to bring you the good news that we live in a brand new golden age when airlines don't expect you to subsist on water and peanuts, and provide actual what they refer to as "food." It wasn't terrible. Wasn't great. But eating it while someone has decided to recline part of their seat right onto your food makes life all that much difficult. Yes, kids, when a flight attendant gazes into the eyes of the person sitting behind you and has to tell you to move forward to make life easier for that poor person, maybe you move your seat forward for a few minutes. Just a few.

  The last issue is a little more touchy. Because it involves kids.

  Yes, I know as a non-kid having person this forbids me from speaking about kids in some instances. I mean, after all… I don't have kids, so I don't understand a lot of what parents go through. Plus, many think piece articles that are floating around will let future historians know that there was a brief period in the 2010's when people with kids were not allowed to speak to people without kids, and vice versa, lest they offend people to the point that soon no one will speak to each other. Thus led to the great Kidless vs. Parent War, in which the Parents come out looking a lot better than the kidless, only because they don't have ancestors speak kindly about them.

  Actually, my issue is less than that, because 90% of the kids on the flight were well-behaved, and even if they did cry or fuss what was anyone going to do? They're infants. If you get mad that an infant is crying on a flight, get over yourself. That's pretty much what infants do, especially when they're sleep patterns are being messed up and they sense they are no longer on the ground.

  No, my issue is actually with the older kids that decided to play hide and seek on the plane, running up and down the aisle during my second flight. Many parents wouldn't let their kids run up and down the aisle, keeping everyone awake by banging on their seats. Many parents would make their kids sit down, especially following the flight attendant saying "please, sit down and stop banging on the seat" rather than getting angry at the flight attendant. I have to admire these parent's out of the box thinking. 

  Seriously, don't let your kids run up and down the aisle of the plane. Especially if they're hitting the seats. Or running into flight attendants. 

  Overall, the flights were just that… flights. They were part of the experience but overall not the best part, nor are they the part that is the real takeaway from my excellent experience. (I have to throw some positivity in this.) But I am saying, maybe we want to get working on those Star Trek style transporters sooner rather than later, because the whole "getting in a metal tube" isn't really working.

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