Pharos-Tribune

October 29, 2013

MULLEN: The plane! The plane!


Pharos-Tribune

---- — We’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks, and it’s good to be back home. I have no horror stories to tell about terrible plane rides, traffic nightmares or bizarre customer “service” stories. Everything was incredibly normal.

As usual, Sue caught an unshakeable cold, the same kind one or both of us always gets after flying. As usual, the moment the cabin door was locked, the guy two rows behind us sprayed half the cabin with a huge, deep, wet, phlegmy cough, one big enough to cover our row and many others with his toxic spew. Since the cougher is on every single flight we have ever taken, we are starting to think the airlines pay him to travel. The only real surprise is that they haven’t figured out a way to charge extra for giving passengers the flu. Yet.

As usual, on every flight there were at least two screaming babies. As usual, they charged extra to check golf clubs and skis. As usual, they don’t charge anything extra for screaming babies. As usual, we wonder why.

As usual we passed several displays that said, “If your carry-on bag can’t fit in this container, you MUST check it.” As usual, they still let 15 or 20 people on each flight clog the aisle with carry-ons not just bigger than the container, but four and five times bigger than the container.

As usual, the airlines refused to board the rear of the plane first. They always load the passengers seated in the front of the plane first, so people in the rear have to fight their way past them, holding up the entire boarding process.

As usual, every single one of our flights was delayed. We didn’t miss any connecting flights, but, as usual, plenty of people did. As usual, there is either a two-hour wait between connecting flights or a two-minute one.

As usual, the only announcement we could understand over the loudspeakers was “Whoever left their laptop at the security checkpoint, please return to pick it up.” So I did.

As usual, the line for the TSA checkpoint snaked around the airport. As usual, someone forgot they’d put their gun in their carry-on. As usual, there was no place to put your carry-ons in the airport restroom, or coffee shop, or waiting area, so as usual we had to set them on the floor. As usual, we hoped that was water all over the floor. Or even mostly water.

As usual, there is a guy on the moving walkway talking to himself as if there’s someone right beside him. Then you see the Bluetooth earpiece and realize he’s on the phone. As usual, everyone within 20 feet of him could hear him say things like, “After the second baby, I told her to get out.”

As usual, we paid $28 for two-day-old ham sandwiches and a bag of trail mix to eat on the plane. As usual, we wondered when you had to start taking trail mix on an airplane to survive the rugged journey. Wasn’t it originally made for backpackers climbing backwoods trails where food was hard to come by?

As usual, the passenger sitting in the aisle seat fell asleep with his head on the tray the moment I felt I should use the restroom. As usual, I schlepped around a heavy coat to a destination that was having unseasonably warm weather. As usual, I forgot it when I left. As usual, we were having abnormally cold weather at home. As usual, we forgot to write down where we parked the car. Was it row RR or TT Blue? Ah, there it is. In row Q Red.

Luckily for us, we didn’t have any bad weather or “equipment delays.” Those can really make air travel a nightmare — not like the wonderful way it is, as usual.

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life,” “Baby’s First Tattoo” and “Now in Paperback.” He can be reached at jim_mullen@myway.com.