I spent the weekend in California, and the only way to get there is to fly. Well, that is the only way if I don’t want to spend two weeks in the car. My darling hubby will tell you that he and his Dad did the entire trip in two days but it used to take us 3 days to get to Colorado and that is only half the distance. Of course, those trips also included stops at the world’s largest ball of string, the Abraham Lincoln museum, the flooded Mississippi river, hotels with pools, backtracking to said hotel with a pool to pickup abandoned swim suits, etc …
So I suck it up and get myself on the steel tube of misery knowing that the end reward is sunny CA or some other awesome locale. (The benefit of not being a business traveler is that I only have to go fun places.)
But I still hate it and here are my 15 reasons why:
1. Getting to the airport. It’s a delicate balancing act. You have to leave early enough that you can survive getting stuck in traffic but late enough that you are not spending 2 hours at the gate. (However, 2 hours is OK if you can spend it at the airport bar which is not always appropriate for early morning flights. For me anyway. I promise not to judge you if you partake in an early cocktail. Besides, you could be coming from somewhere where it really is 5 o’clock.)
2. Security. I know that this is for our own health and well-being, but do they really think that my flip-flops are large enough to have hidden material? And it takes me forever to undress, unpack my bag, go through the scanner, redress, repack, and leave. Although I am still faster than Keith who seems to always travel with belts, loose change in his pockets, laptops, and other miscellaneous items that need to be removed and then replaced.
3. Airport scanners. These still suck. Send me through an x-ray machine any day. At least the images now are (supposedly) just big blobs instead of detailed renderings. Although I’m not sure I feel any better by being represented by a blob.
4. Airport food. How hard is it to provide decent restaurant options? The worst airport I’ve found is in Washington D.C. I think we had a smoothie from somewhere and maybe some french fries. Thank goodness we had access to the United lounges. But I have to admit, O’Hare does a pretty good job. There are two Italian restaurants that I like. Plus a couple of bars. Other airports should follow its example. Well, not its entire example because lots of flights are late coming in and out and others are just flat-out canceled.
Which leads me to:
5. Delayed flights. Last year, we decided to fly somewhere in the afternoon. This was back when Keith worked nights so he headed home to get some sleep while I kept an eye on our flight status. I was supposed to call him 30 minutes before we needed to leave for the airport. The flight was delayed, delayed, delayed and suddenly, on time. 1.5 hours before our flight. And we hadn’t even left for the airport. I called Keith and woke him up. I think he was out the door in under 5 mins (not bad for a guy who had just woken up) and we rushed to the airport. We arrived just in time to make the flight. Only to discover the flight was delayed again.
6. Canceled flights. We didn’t fly much growing up. It was cheaper and easier to pile us into the station wagon for a road trip. My first solo flight was to visit Keith and his family in California. I flew out of my hometown, had a layover in Chicago, then on to CA. The trip out was great. The trip back occurred in the middle of a snow storm and my second leg home was canceled and I was stranded in Chicago. I think my second cousin rescued me from the airport and my mom drove up then next morning to pick me up.
7. Waiting. Unless I can go to the bar (see number one) or have a really good book.
8. The cattle call. Otherwise known as boarding.
9. Waiting. This time in a less comfortable seat on a hot plane.
10. Sitting in the incubator for hours while in flight while trying to avoid the people coughing around you. And thinking about all of the diseases they could have. And all of the pandemic movies you have seen that always start on an airplane.
11. Noise. I don’t mind screaming babies because I always feel bad for the parents. I have the option to put in headphones and completely tune out. But parents have to stay tuned in and worry about what other passengers are thinking about their parenting skills. But I do mind passengers who think that since they are on holiday they can whoop it up and make generally annoying, drunken noise. They are harder to tune out.
12. Airplane food. I got food poisoning on my honeymoon from the lunch served in business class. And I haven’t eaten airplane food since. Well, I rarely pass on bread or cookies but mystery meat? That can remain a mystery and I avoid it at all costs. So I always find something to eat before the flight or at least something I can take with me. Sometimes this is harder than others (see number 4).
13. Getting off the plane. I don’t know how it can take people so long to gather up their few belongings and get off the plane in an orderly manner. There should never be a huge gap between groups of disembarking passengers. If you are going to take forever, at least step to the side so the rest of us can get past!
14. Baggage claim. Why does it take forever to get your luggage? Denver airport usually has it waiting for you by the time you get there. If one airport can do it, I don’t know why the others can’t. And I’m always freaked out that someone else is going to steal my luggage.
15. Leaving the airport. Departures are neat and organized. You pull in, you leave. Arrivals are more like a free-for-all. You circle in endless loops while waiting for that phone call. Then you get stuck behind the 900 other cars that are circling the airport. And eventually you get to the predetermined pick-up spot only to determine there is not place to pull in to park. So you just stop in the middle of the road and hope that your passengers are quick about loading their bags before security comes and yells at you for holding up traffic.
You couldn’t pay me enough to do this every week. Business travelers are saints. Or idiots. You decide. I’m just glad I don’t have to fly again anytime soon.