Sunday, January 22, 2006

Come Fly the Friendly Skies...You'll Probably Be Seated Next to Me!

I've spent the last year on an airplane.

In 2005, six airlines took me on fourteen trips to eight different cities and a dozen airports: Austin, Sacramento (twice), Indianapolis, DC (three times), LA (twice), Atlanta, Chicago (twice), Vegas, and one crazy Sacramento-Atlanta-Chicago loop. I racked up 58,787 frequent flier miles (plus 7 "credits earned" on Southwest. Whatever that means.) I can tell you what airline you're flying based solely upon where your connection is. And yet, I still haven't managed to fly anywhere for free. Maybe if I schedule a trip to Akron the second week in November, they'll let me use my frequent flier miles. Maybe.

Through all this traveling, I've developed some rather particular routines. First off, I hate giving up the day flying, so I look for a red-eye first. Sure, I'm a zombie by the end of the day, but I'd rather fall asleep during dinner than just be getting off the plane at 7:00 pm. If the red-eye doesn't work, my next choice is a 6:00 am flight. They're almost more brutal than the red-eye, because instead of being on a plane fast asleep at 4:00 am, the SuperShuttle people are arriving at my door to take me to the airport. Ugh.

Secondly, my flight is probably interfering with some sort of normal sleep schedule. (Not that I have a "normal" sleep schedule, but you know what I mean.) Therefore, time spent on the shuttle, in the terminal, and on the plane is time that I should be asleep. It's hard to sleepwalk through the security checkpoint, so I have to be somewhat awake for about thirty minutes of the process. Ninety, if I'm flying out of Dulles. (Side note to those of you who don't fly often: when in doubt, TAKE IT OFF AND PUT IT THROUGH THE X-RAY MACHINE. This includes your shoes, jacket, belt with buckle-the-size-of-Texas, firearms, incendiary devices, and small children. Also, not everything has to go in a gray plastic bin. There is nothing contaminating about the rubber conveyor belt. Your coat will be ok traveling through the x-ray machine unprotected by the gray plastic bin that sixteen thousand other people's stuff has been in today. Think about it – the conveyor belt is probably less germy.)

Where was I? Oh right, my routines. The final crucial piece of my travel plans involves seat selection. I am not tall. I do not need three feet of leg room to feel comfortable. Rather, I am impatient. I need to be near the front of the plane, so I can get off as quickly as humanly possible and get on with the rest of my day. Even if the immediate rest of my day consists of waiting at another gate for a delayed flight. Also, I need my personal space, for the sleeping portion of the flight. (Approximately 100% of our flight time.) Thus, I choose a window seat. Just let me get on the plane, settle my belongings in and go to sleep. I don't want to watch your little safety video with the too-loud audio that explains what to do if the oxygen masks come down. If something happens such that we need the oxygen masks, I hope I'm asleep. I was recently on a flight where the flight attendant woke me up to check to see that my seatbelt was buckled. In preparation for takeoff. I don't even wake up anymore when they come around with pretzels and Diet Coke. And for me to sleep through free Diet Coke is a pretty big sacrifice.

On the subject of sacrifices, FAA, what is the deal with these silly electronic device restrictions? Are you honestly telling me that my iPod is going to f-up the multi-million dollar computer systems the pilots use to fly the plane? Really? Because I'm trying to sleep here, and the music makes the rest of the plane disappear. And I really don't want to rouse myself once we've reached our cruising altitude just to enjoy the iPod. And I really, really don't want to be woken up twenty minutes before we land with your stupid announcement telling me to turn off the iPod. You just woke me up! I skipped the Diet Coke and haven't had caffeine in six hours! And now you're going to take away my only source of happiness for the half hour remaining on our flight and the person sitting next to me will decide that now is a great time to strike up a conversation because I have no way to escape and they already annoyed the crap out of the person in the aisle seat??? Because my enjoyment of Dave Matthews will prevent the pilots from landing the plane?!?!?

However, I am a reasonable person, FAA. I'll make a deal with you: I will continue to abide by your iPod ban if you maintain the ban on cell phones. Because heaven help us if I have to try to sleep through someone's incessant cell phone chatter without the benefit of my iPod. The airlines do not have enough Diet Coke to keep things from getting ugly.


At Sun Jan 22, 09:28:00 AM PST, Anonymous Nothing But Bonfires said...

I love flying because you just sit there! And people bring you things! And you never, ever, ever feel guilty for reading three magazines in a row and eating a whole bag of Starburst jelly beans BECAUSE THERE'S NOTHING ELSE TO DO! Domestic flights, maybe not so much because you always feel the need to stay away to WILL that tiny little plane to stay in the sky. But international ones? With the free alcohol? I could do that all year.


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