Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Travel – No Longer Such a Great Adventure

I remember when I was a little girl, flying out of Alaska, PanAm, it was all so glamorous. We all dressed up, the stewardesses gave us wings to wear and we dreamed of growing up to live their adventurous life. The bathrooms were lounges, with a sitting area. Some of the seats faced others, like in a train. There was actually a lounge area, maybe where people would drink (I was too young to remember.)

That was long ago.

First, security took a lot of fun out of flying. Just having to take off your shoes is so degrading, so undignified, and when you are also taking out your computer and your little bag of liquids or make up or whatever, pulling off belts or jackets – it is just a big degrading drag. I totally get it. I don’t want to be sitting next to the underwear bomber, or the disgruntled hijacker, and at the same time, it is an annoyance.

Delta sent me a survey, how did I like my flight? What’s to like? I don’t pay the extra to fly business or first class when I am not flying from Qatar or Kuwait to Seattle – it’s a lot of money and for what? You don’t get more privacy, the food is still airplane food, and it’s just not a good value for the money.

I know about booking my seat when I book my flight, so I usually get a good selection, but now it is further back, now with the new “economy plus.” Economy plus doesn’t give you much, just maybe a few more inches between you and the seat in front of you. It doesn’t give you a wider seat, or more privacy, or more space in the overhead bin. It’s still cattle class, just at the front of the cattle car.

Since the airlines started charging for bags, more and more people are trundling their barely-meets-the-standard bags onto the plane, some people take TWO bags on the plane, I guess they are claiming one bag is their purse. I’ve been there; when I lived overseas and was checking two big bags through and still needed a carry-on (and once, when someone bumped me just outside the Starbucks and knocked my coffee all over my entire outfit, I was glad to be able to go into the restroom, clean off and change.)

But most of the time, all these bags just make getting through the airport more competitive and obstructive. People worry about getting space in the overhead bins; it makes them less nice. We are all competing for a scarce resource, and people can get nasty.

The restaurants in the airports are a minefield as you head for your table, dodging giant carry-ons and the glares of their owners. I can guess they are tired of schlepping those monstrosities; but get them out of the aisles! Entire families stride down the gateways, rolling their bags here and there, dropping their jackets and sweaters, holding up traffic as they stop to pick up or to console the whining child who can’t keep up, or is tired of wheeling their own oversized carry-on. It isn’t pretty.

And now, too, all the rental cars in Seattle have been consolidated to an offsite location with complimentary bus transportation. I am lucky, going to Seattle I can manage fine with one bag (checked) but going to an offsite location adds about half an hour to the time it takes to get out of the airport and on the way to my destination. I have no control over when the buses will come or go, and I imagine myself coming in from Kuwait or Qatar or Germany with my two big bags and a purse and how on earth does one manage? You have to take an escalator up or down when you pick up or drop off your car! How do you manage if you need to use the rest room? It used to be so easy – get one of those carts, truck your bags over to your rental car, deposit, run to the ladies room, depart. Not so, anymore.

So I told Delta the truth. There is no glamour. There is no adventure. It is grim. There is no graciousness; the flight attendants are harried, overworked, dealing with stressed and unhappy customers crowded, too crowded, onto flights which are flying totally full; we are packed together like sardines. We are not happy.

December 4, 2012 - Posted by | Adventure, Pet Peeves, Seattle, Travel

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