Sep 2009 30

Ah, air travel. What was once a convenient way to travel long distances has become a clusterfuck of rubber glove cavity invasions and swine flu scares. It used to be that families would dress up for a trip on the plane, ready to eat steak and lobster with real silverware- polished even! Now bums show up at the airport in their pajamas (a look I’m seriously opposed to for everywhere but in bed), sloppy-looking and disheveled, clothes implying they don’t give a damn what they’re wearing yet the carrying oversized stuffed suitcases that would suggest otherwise.

By this time last year, I had earned useless miles to countless places- Costa Rica; Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium; Hawaii, and California. My trips so far this year have been spent on all fours (tires, you perv) but I finally flew for the first time this year and the “friendly skies” have become even more of a wallet drain. I don’t check a bag but if I wanted to, I’d have to pay for it. Want a blanket or pillow? Break the piggybank. Food? Well, who wants to eat that crap anyways, but $3 for Top Ramen? College students would go broke! No movies, audio, or even listening to the air traffic controllers anymore without purchasing in flight entertainment. Seat cushion? Cha-ching! And in case the cabin depressurizes, please insert credit card from left to right to drop your oxygen mask. I can only imagine having to cash in my 401k if I needed to use the emergency slide! And somehow I always end up in a seat suitable for a midget with a fetish for nestling his or her nose between the armpits of Humpty Dumpty and his twin.

One other gripe- the family, casual, and expert traveler lines. I’m an expert. My liquids are in their little plastic baggy, all under 3 ounces. I remove my shoes, belt, and sweater (as long as I wore something underneath…) and hold up my pants to go through security. I take out my laptop from the bag and have my boarding pass and ID ready. Why is my line being held up by a harried mother with a whiny 5 year old and a “business traveler” who looks astonished when his metal money clip, spare change, shoes, cuff links, lighter, Swiss army blade, etc. set off the metal detector? Use the lame traveler line and get out of my way.

Hey, it could be worse. I flew home from Vegas one year via the Southwest cattle call procedure. Zone B boarding meant I had my choice of middle seats. An early morning Vegas flight is usually packed with passengers that have forgone a hotel room the night before in a last attempt at hitting the jackpot. They typically reek of chain smoking fifths of vodka with a dash of puke, a whiff of B.O., and a hint of prostitute. So I sat down between John #1 and John #2 (not their names, but accurate descriptions nonetheless) who then high-fived each other in front of me, purely for the luck of being thisclose to a woman who wasn’t asking for a credit card number or expecting twenties in her g-string- can’t say they didn’t offer! They proceeded to spend the entire flight debating silicone versus saline and discerning last night’s meal based on the gaseous aftermath.

Back to my flight to San Diego, I settled into the seat molded for anorexic hunchbacks and relied on my (own) headphones and i-pod touch to drown out the sounds of other passengers, fully aware nothing could overcome their smells. If I could only get that hole in the space time continuum completed…