Friday, April 11, 2014

Flying The Friendly Skies


Whoever coined the phrase "Flying The Friendly Skies" would be less than accurate when referencing today's air travel.



The nightmare begins before you board a plane. My recent trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a perfect example of how unfriendly things can get. First, there’s the security check. It’s not enough that you have to take off your shoes, belt, certain jewelry and sweaters, you are also subject to random pat-downs, as well as body scanners which show hidden fat as well as anything else us senior citizens are likely to hide or camouflage.

Then there’s the boarding process. There is First Class, those in need of assistance, those with small children, those with Sky Miles, and then and only then does Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, etc. begin to board. Since every checked suitcase costs extra money, and I’m not talking about a few dollars, just about everyone opts for carry-ons. All this slows the boarding process to a snails pace. Once you make it to your seat and are lucky enough to find an empty overhead within a mile of your seat assignment, you have to tolerate the continual human traffic of those whose boarding process is yet to be completed. If you are stupid enough to require an aisle seat, this continuing process can be downright claustrophobic. Talk about getting up close and personal with your fellow man and his or her over-stuffed carry-ons!

If you are like me, you pay more to get economy comfort. I do this in order to stretch my arthritic legs. The problem is you don’t necessarily get what you pay extra for. It’s not much of a stretch, and there’s always a bald-headed man in front of me that pushes his seat so far back that his receding hairline is practically in my lap.

If you’re really lucky, you end up seated next to someone with a coughing or sneezing fit, or a large framed individual who takes up half of your space as well as their’s and last but not least, there’s the screaming baby whose lungs don’t give out until your two or three hour flight is coming to a merciful end.

If you want to go to the bathroom, make sure you do it before the drink and food tray block

the aisle space next to your seat. Since the aisles on a plane are barely wide enough for one person to walk without bumping into his or her fellow seated passengers, it’s next to impossible to get around the food tray. I use that term cautiously. Referring to the tiny packages of cookies and pretzels that the crew hands out as food is a gross exaggeration.

When your flight finally ends, you go through the excruciatingly slow process of deplaning. My sympathies to those who have another flight to catch and less than an hour to make a connection. Even if you do make your flight, there’s no guarantee that your checked baggage will arrive the same time you do. Another reason to pack light and carry one small suitcase. Which brings me to a very important piece of information. Ladies, some airports and airlines now consider your purses as extra carry-ons. Be forewarned of this new method of torturing female flyers.

If you are a senior citizen who requires a wheelchair, please note that you will be wheeled from one terminal to the next.. You will also have wheelchair access to baggage claim but nowhere else. If you need to catch a cab or stop for any other reason, you’re on your own. Hope you have a cane or a walker to get where you need to go.

By the time you get to your destination, you want to kneel down and kiss the ground in celebration that you’ve finally arrived even if your dignity and sanity are somewhat damaged.