Saturday, November 20, 2010

The End of Air Least for Me

In the late 1980s my job included a generous travel budget. Flying made it easy and convenient to attend two or three conferences every year. You could even smoke.

Those were the good old days. Since then, the quality of the flying experience has declined...dramatically. The seats keep getting smaller with less distance between rows. Instead of hot meals, they served cold soggy sandwiches with an apple and a cookie and finally, nothing at all.

I'm a big guy--just over six foot tall and more than 200 pounds. My seatmates were often my size or larger. As the airlines crammed more and more seats onto the planes, my comfort level decreased.

Then came 9/11 and the long waits at airports that came with all the security changes. I learned to wear slip-on shoes and to keep my watch, belt and keys in my briefcase until I cleared security. Throw in a tendency to end up with a flu or sinus infection whenever I flew, and flying lost much of its appeal.

My partner and I flew to California two summers in a row a few years ago. The return flight on the last trip was filled to capacity. A psychotic asshole insisted on reclining his seat into my partner's face. When the stewardess intervened, psycho said he had his rights and refused to put his seat back.

It was a long, uncomfortable flight. So much so I vowed it would be my last. I find no enjoyment in paying tons of money to be herded like livestock onto flying boxcars.

That was before TSA cracked down on liquids and airlines started adding charges for everything under the sun. Now I hear they're feeling people up or otherwise humiliating them before they board. No thanks.

If I can't get there by car, I ain't going. You can't make me, either. That's one of the few privileges that come with being...

The Crotchety Old Man

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