Friday, April 24, 2009

Losing Its Luster

I travel a lot for a living. My schedule can have me away from Miami just about every other week, sometimes weekly, for anywhere from 2 to 10 days at a time. As a result, I spend a lot of time in airports and on airplanes.

For the most part, I really enjoy it. Whenever Im traveling I am on the company's dime so its easier for me to save money. In Miami, I need to pay to feed myself and fight the temptation to go out all the time, a battle that I usually lose. I also get to see and experience the sights, sounds, and history of my country. A lot of people have never left their home states. Ive been to 39 of the 50 states in the USA* and hope to knock off a few more later this year. I also get to meet new people from different walks of life which has been an awesome learning experience. The travel perks are another bonus. Ive been on some pretty sweet vacations using my airline miles to get me there and my hotel points to put a roof over my head.

The drawbacks are minimal in quantity though somewhat hefty in quality. Being on the road and living out of a suitcase kinda blows. Its not bad when youre staying in one hotel for a few days at a time because you can unpack and get comfy. Bouncing from hotel to hotel and living out of a suitcase gets tiresome though. Then coming home and having to unpack and do chores before I leave again usually leads to me being lazy and neglecting my condo which sucks cuz Im kind of a neat freak. Also, it seems that I miss out on a lot of cool events with friends because I happen to be out of town when they take place, be it a concert, beach party, or local Miami event.

The fine line has always been flying. I love to fly. I think man inventing the commercial airplane and flying passengers all over the world in a giant hunk of hollowed steel is pretty freakin awesome. Have you ever seen a plane just about to land or after its just taken off? Look at how big those suckers are! Blows my mind. Lately, however, flying has been quite daunting.

I can deal with the nuances of the airport, even Miami International which is by far the worst and most annoying airport in the country. I can deal with the ticket lines, security lines, taking off my shoes, and removing liquids and metals from my persons and baggage. I arrive anywhere between 1.5 and 2 hours early and sit quietly while waiting to board my flight.

What I cant deal with lately is the way airlines have reacted to the economic situation and how it has affected airline passengers who then affect me. With the airline industry hurting, airlines have adopted a policy of making passengers pay for checked baggage. The result - people now cram everything they can into a suitcase, or multiple suitcases, and begin the battle for overhead space. Passengers flock to the boarding area, trying to get on the plane as fast as possible to secure the most overhead space possible. Airlines allow one bag in the overhead but most asshole passengers will throw 2, sometimes 3 up there without the airlines doing anything to stop them. This really pisses me off, mainly because of the lack of consideration shown for fellow flyers. It also delays the boarding/takeoff process because there is always some poor sap that cant find overhead space and then has to have his bag checked planeside. Another thing that drives me nuts as a result of the current economic situation is how airlines have cut routes and now jam pack and oversell flights. Nothing is worse than being on a packed flight. The cabin temperature pre-takeoff gets really warm with all of those bodies in there. Plus, people are so effing inconsiderate its not even funny. I sit in the aisles and get wailed by carry-on luggage as people walk by without even offering an "excuse me" or "sorry".

My last 4 flights have really sucked due to fellow passengers being inconsiderate. First there was the parents who couldnt get their kid to stop kicking my seat to the point where I had to turn around and say, "Dont do that again." The dad finally reacted after ignoring this for 2 straight hours and got the kid to stop. Then there was the kid from India who talked loud NONSTOP for 2 straight hours on an 8am flight to Charlotte. This kid didnt take one goddamn breath. I knew his whole effing life story by the end of the flight which technically qualified me to bludgeon him to death with my luggage because he was that lame. The next flight was warm when we boarded the plane. It was a quick flight from Charlotte to Norfolk in a small plane on a nice spring morning where the air was brisk but the sun was hot. Due to the fact that we weren't moving, the air vents weren't pumping out a lot of cool air. The pilot was clearly trying to fix things but the plane kept losing power and restarting again. The guy behind me thought that if he bitched nonstop like a 2 year old to the flight attendants or pilot or anyone who would listen, that the plane would miraculously be fixed and cool off. This went on for 45 straight minutes before me and the woman next to me started talking very audibly about how much of a baby he was. The last flight was a 6 hour Miami to San Fran nightmare. Sitting in my usual seat 10D on a nonstop 8am American flight, I was feeling good. Id only gotten 3 hours of sleep but I knew I could pass out and get some more shuteye on the plane. Not so fast. I had 2 old geezer women and a big fat momma sitting behind me who made it a point to constantly raise and lower the tray table and yank down on the back of my chair while trying to get out of the row to take a leak. Why think about others' comfort? I maybe got an hour of sleep and now Im in a different timezone trying to stay awake so I will wake up on "normal" time and not be a zombie in my meetings tomorrow.

Its these things that have now got me thinking that the allure of travel is losing its luster. Ive found myself dreading trips that I normally would enjoy just because of the flights involved. Its probably just a phase where Im becoming easily irritated and suppressing it so it all boils over like it has in this rant. Another thing is that I travel so much and try to be considerate of others so I expect it even more. Its a necessary evil that puts money in my pocket so I'll suck it up and deal and hope I get back that "lovin feelin" for flying again. At least it gets me out of Miami for a little bit, a positive that cant be topped.

*In order to qualify as a "visited state", I have to actually do something there (i.e. - eat at a restaurant, go to a tourist spot, etc). Simply driving through or sitting at an airport during a layover does not count.


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Anonymous said...

Going places is fun but flying can be a pain. Hope you do get back that "lovin feelin".
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