Thursday, December 29, 2005

Get Me Off This Plane

Once again I traveled for the Christmas holiday. It was an early flight and again slightly unpleasant.

I was fortunate enough to share the departure with a good friend (Her story is equally entertaining) and we had quite a time getting a taxi to actually take us to airport. We ended up getting there in enough time and Yellow Cab came through for us. Redeeming the sins of George from my last Yellow Cab experience. In fact the lovely gentleman who drove us to the airport gave us many words of wisdom, my favorite being the following:

"A man who never took a chance never had a chance."

I love that and it's so true.

From there it was mostly uneventful, save the following tidbits.

Why, oh why, have the airlines decided it is a good idea to haphazardly board the aircraft? If I am sitting in the back of the bus then I should get on first, no? Logic is defied by letting those in 16A get on before 29C. It would make everyone happier and less likely to hate the whole experience. But no, let's not make a decision in favor of good customer service. Just because I sit in coach, doesn't mean I didn't pay a small fortune for this ticket. And furthermore, letting me on the plane first isn't going to make me feel high and mighty, it's just going to make the waiting and suffering just a little bit less.
I plan on writing letters from here on out to forcefully suggest that the boarding of aircraft be from back to front.

I had an aisle seat, thankfully, but it really didn't matter. The standby passenger who sat in front of me on this full plane decided that it was a good idea to lean his seat back before we took off. This is also one of the most irritating things on airplanes; the leaning back of the seat. This selfish act removes all leg space from the person behind you and this man's seat was showing its wear because it reclined more than normal. I tapped him on the shoulder and told him that his seat needed to be upright for takeoff and when he didn't comply, I told him that I would call the flight attendant if I had to. We had this battle for the first 20 minutes of the flight. When I finally gave in and stopped kneeing the seat he continued to fidget and bounce back and forth. I decided to "go zen" and just go back to sleep with the perceived knowledge that his life must really be horrible and he is a sad, sad man to be such a jerk. It only helped a little. I still wanted to strangle him. I also thought of how I could possibly sue him for some sort of harm caused to me by occupying all of my leg room. I couldn't even put my tray table down for the beverage service.

Traveling is a pain. Packing and repacking and hauling and organizing. It takes so much time and effort.
I used to like air travel, I really did. Something about being in an airport, jetting off to somewhere for a new experience or to see family or friends. All very exciting and fun.

The airlines and the government have sucked all the fun out of it. Now, I'm going not discount what happened on September 11th. It changed our lives forever, but it can't really be blamed for the continuous downward spiral of quality customer service and transportation safety.

It's the simple things like boarding a plane in a logical way, all the way to allowing scissors back on planes.

Is that really a good idea? Should that announcement be made to the general public? No one thinks that this is a sound, well thought out plan. For crying out loud they banned tweezers and nail clippers at first. That was ridiculous, but this is truly without merit.

Please read the series by columnist Annie Jacobsen about airline safety and you will see that we should be concerned about this.

I digress to the serious side again....

The return trip was even more eventful. The outbound flight was delayed due to "Aircraft Availability". This never bodes well. I had a connection that I was now sure to miss.

I made my way to United customer service to explore my options. It went a little something like this...

"My plane is going to be delayed and I have a connection and I don't think I'll make it now."

"Hmmm...Let's know we have direct flight to Los Angeles? Oh, but today they're all sold out, so, I can't put you on one of those...."

"Yeah, I'm aware of that."

"Well, it looks like you'll have about 30 minutes, you should be just fine to make that connection. And if not there's another flight at noon."

"Okay, if you're sure?"

"Yeah, no problem."

I walk back to the gate and wait. The plane continues to be delayed and I return to the gate agent this time and have an identical conversation. Referring again to the phrase "you should have about 30 minutes."

Apparently this is a magical 30 minutes for this flight, because never in my life of air travel has an aircraft de-planed in 30 minutes or less!

Naturally, I did not make that connection. It wouldn't have been possible even if the gate I needed was in the SAME TERMINAL. That's right, I had to get on a bus and go to what they lovingly refer to as "The Commuter Terminal." No chance of making that little puddle jumper at 11:30. No chance.

At the commuter terminal I nonchalantly asked about my checked baggage. Knowing full well that I would be lied to about the destiny of those bags. I was told, (because of the magical 30 minutes, I'm sure) the bags MADE IT ON the flight at 11:30 and would be there when I arrived. I nodded and proceeded to yet another security line, the gate and finally the tiny little plane.

My bags were NOT waiting for me patiently. I proceeded to baggage assistance, where I was told another little story. The bags were on the flight I arrived on and had not been unloaded yet. I waited an extra 45 minutes. No bags. NO BAGS. I filed my claim and started down the road of acceptance that I would never see my luggage again.

Thankfully, United Baggage Service came through and delivered my bag to me the following day.

That's the end of the story folks. Air travel always comes through with a good story. Remember that when you head to the airport.

Stay tuned for the next one! Peace Out.

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Monday, December 19, 2005

A Very Special Xmas - Holiday Rants

As we embark upon another holiday season, people bustle about to and fro and leave their brains at home the minute they step outside. Here are some rants. Enjoy.

1. People can't drive.

Stop talking on your cell phone. Please! Your brain can't do two things at once. Driving is a huge task. Think about it. You are wielding a two-ton piece of machinery around with your tiny little arms and legs. Stop over-taxing your brain with conversations that mean nothing and just drive!

2. People are not ready at the checkout

If you stand in the express line, do not write a check! For goodness sakes, you've pared it down to the ten items or less requirement and are obviously in need of the EXPRESS nature of the line's designation. So, don't you think you should be prepared with your form of payment? Like while the clerk is scanning your items, you should be writing out everything except for the amount. Is that so hard? Oh! I forgot...YOU are the ONLY person on the planet!

3. People should not put wreaths on their cars

Is this really necessary? Must we decorate EVERY single surface available to us? What's the Hanukkah and the Kwanza equivalent? Where is the menorah on the grill of that Ford F150? I have nothing more to add than that.

4. Bah-humbug is a valid feeling

What is with so much pressure to be in the holiday spirit anyway? Although, it's always lovely to be with your family and not have to go to work for a few days do we need to be constantly hassled about being in the spirit? If I don't want to listen to Jingle Bells seven-thousand times is that a crime? Now, I did put up my little tree and a whatnot, but until I have kids and can see them excited about this magical holiday, I'm not going to give into peer pressure that I should be happy that it's Christmas. So, spare me the look.

5. People should not go out in public

If you reach the top of an escalator and are unable to continue moving because you don't know which way to go next, you should not go out in public. EVER. To have this level of disregard for the safety of those behind you and your own person,
(because I assure you that if I am behind you, you will be mowed down. You'll be given a loud verbal warning, but I'll still come at you.) you really ought to rethink the whole thing. I can not tell you how many times I've seen this happen. In fact I believe that escalator accidents are not the shoelace caught in the teeth of the monster moving stairway, I think people are stopping at the top, gawking at the ceiling and getting plowed down by everyone behind them. It's far more dangerous than that stray shoelace I assure you.

Happy Holidays!

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