Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Come Fly With Me

Have you ever thought while at the airport “Wow this process is enjoyable, well organized, and reasonably executed!”?  Of course not.   I have a theory that what we know as modern day air travel was originally designed by the military as some form of psychological torture, the blueprints for which accidentally landed on someone’s desk at the department of transportation. Let’s address the current situation and my recommended adjustments, shall we? “Oh yes, let’s!”, you say and we hold hands and skip over to a picnic in the park*

The check-in counter: I don’t care where I’m going; Paris!  Rome! Sheboygan! How lovely it would be for the ticket agent to feign, for the briefest of moments, a shred of excitement.  “Oh Isn’t that nice, you’ll  have so much fun”! would be a pleasant way to start me on my journey but alas the robot behind the desk only offers a grunt and the briefest of gestures toward the gate.

The security line: Off to a not so great start, I next approach the security line.   The gate agents screaming instructions on loop seem not to have noticed that I am two feet away and fully prepared.  My shoes are removed! Do you not see the well organized 1 quart Zip-Loc bag in my hand?  If anyone out there associated with the TSA is reading this, please be informed that we are not all deaf. I don’t know how you got this impression.  Is there a morning meeting where you’re fed this lie?  “hey by the way, again today, every single person coming to this airport is deaf, every last one.  So, go ahead and continue to scream at them when they are directly in front of you”.  This is inaccurate and you should really check your sources.  

Oh but perhaps my theory is wrong.  Maybe the security agents are shouting so that, at some point during the 30 minute wait, even the least observant nitwit will realize that bottle of Fiji water is not making it through the checkpoint.  I’ve got a solution for that too.  Airports should start charging an idiot tax for anyone who’s unprepared by the time they reach the front of the line.  It could even be fun for the rest of us.  Picture it; once the non-compliant is standing on the yellow foot markers for the body scan, a voice announces their ineptitude over an intercom.  We fellow travelers waiting our turn can sing along to a catchy tune about the perils of burdening society as the belt-wearing, liquids-over-3-ounces carrying fool is directed to the idiot tax payment booth.  

Airport Food: I’m past security, my shoes are tied and the next thing that greets me is a great hall of neon signage and the wafting scent of meat by-products sizzling in vats of oil.  It’s a never ending sea of overpriced, refined starch, binge-inducing garbage calling my name. In the perfect world my solution would be to have Jillian Michaels standing in front of the Auntie Anne’s counter yelling “Don’t do it, you’re gonna regret it in like 5 minutes” and, when I buy that butter laden caloric endeavor anyway, running to the other end of the counter to  tackle me before I can take a bite. I realize that Jillian is only one woman and this is obviously not a scalable solution, which is why I propose installing Jillian Michaels life size plasma screens in front of every Auntie Anne’s.  

Strangely enough, missing from the menu of every airport I’ve ever been to, is coffee.  Airports don’t have coffee.  They have vats of hot dark swill that they pour into coffee cups but no actual liquid I’d define as the stuff.  I’m sorry but airport coffee is the Taco Bell ground beef of hot caffeinated beverages.  It’s disgusting, but we still consume it while lying to ourselves about what’s really inside, clinging to a thin veil of ignorance that’s just one 20/20 special away from being ripped to shreds.  My solution is to not watch that exposé when it comes out.  I just can’t risk a confined space for an extended amount of time with no caffeine.

On-board the aircraft: As for the experience once I’m actually on the plane, I think we could all spend the better part of the next decade commiserating, but that’s not a great use of anyone’s time. So, in rapid succession, just the actionable items that will contribute to the general sanity of travelers in society:

  • Leave the cologne/perfume out of your morning routine on travel day, I know you think it smells nice in a “subtle” way and people like it but it doesn’t, and we don’t.
  • Gentleman, I can say with scientific certainty that, whatever you may be carrying between your legs, it does not require you to spread your knees halfway into the seat to either side.  I paid for all of my seat, I expect to be able to use all of it.
  • I get that your sweet Johnny is a wee little one, and he’s not accustomed to confined spaces but perhaps you could refrain from allowing him to run up and down the aisles arms flailing.  The first five seconds of his menacingly gleeful squeal were cute but the twenty minutes following had me wondering whether my insurance would pay to get my tubes tied, and I’ve spent the last ten reminding myself that binding and gagging a toddler is simply not the Christian thing to do.

I think that about does it. I strongly encourage the forwarding of this information to any fellow travelers you may know, leaders in the aviation industry, or Kinkos for mass order lamination and distribution at your local airport.  Thanks for flying.

* yaaaa about that, there’s no picnic.  I’m not even sitting next to you...ya weirdo.