Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Olden Days, When Traveling Was Fun

I went to help my sister move over the weekend and this involved a 1 hour flight. Living where we do, you must drive 1.5 hours to an airport, 2 to choose from, so it seems so absurd to drive for longer than I will fly. This trip inspired me once again to visit memory lane, where flying used to be a cinch. Remember when:

-you could arrive 20 minutes before take off and actually get on the very plane you wanted to travel on
-taking off your shoes was unheard of and probably considered unsanitary
-no one stood in security taking their clothes off
-people could actually smoke on planes
-people could actually fit in their seats on planes
-people could visit the pilot during the flight (ok, I don't remember that but I've seen it on TV)
-liquids over 3 ounces were allowed through security
-you just put your bags on the security belt without thinking about taking everything out first

I never ceases to amaze me when I watch people in the security line. Business people, people who clearly are dressed to get off the plane and attend a meeting right away, stand their in their socks/nylons, taking off belts, jackets, jewelry. It's amazing to me that society has caved and actually does what security wants. I remember when you could just breeze through. My father would take out his wallet, coins and pocket knife (can you IMAGINE???) and put it in the little bowl so he didn't set off the alarm and then pick them up , put them in his pocket and get on the plane.

This time, I experienced a new phenomenon at security. The full body scan. The part I found the most absurd was what you have to do with your hands. There you are, barefoot and in some cases, half dressed, and you have to face this booth with a curtain (that I kept expecting a magician to pop out of) with your hands over your head forming a triangle. They show you what to do and then tell you not to let your hands touch your head and then you stand there. Then they tell you to move over to the mat with the footprints painted on. And stand there until they tell you. But they don't tell you to stand there until they tell you to move, you stand there in this limbo wondering if you should move and should should your hands still be in triangle position over your head. The girl after me tried to leave the mat before being told she was allowed to. We never saw her again. I'm kidding, they told her she had to go back. And then a voice on a small radio gave the ok and I was allowed to get my stuff, put my shoes back on and be on my way.

Then on the plane itself, everything is just so tight. I am a small person and I still have trouble fitting properly. I'm mostly amazed that the flight attendants' unions haven't put their foot down(with no shoe of course) and demanded that the aisles be wider and things go back to being slightly more spacious. Imagine how few people would be disgruntled on planes if they had some space to move!

My experience on both flights was peculiar. In this age of super vigilance about tickets, and IDs matching names, etc. I was allowed to just hop on an earlier flight going out. I literally said "I'm on the next flight, I'm not on standby yet.." and she grabbed my boarding pass without even looking at it and told me to just get on this one. Then I had nothing to hand the guy at the gate and he yelled over to her and she just waved her hand. There were 27 people missing from the roster of that plane and they called everyone by name and when they didn't appear, they actually said that if anyone wanted to get on this flight they could and that's how I got away with it. This was a very 1970's airport scene, not 2010.

Coming home was also weird. After being told it was a full flight, they closed the door and did their seatbelt/lifevest spiel. Then we sat. Then someone knocked on the door. I'm serious, knocked on the door. And the flight attendant opened it. I was sitting in the very front row so I saw it all. He said they would be bringing on more people and then walked away. No one knew who or why. Then the pilot came out. He looked more like he was on his way to a frat party than piloting through the friendly skies. He asked why the door was open and no one knew. So he got on the mic and said that he was not sure why but he would make up a story that he thought was right and then go check it out. So we sat for about 15 more minutes while about 5 people got on and then we left. He never checked out his story and that made me annoyed. This was another scene from what seemed like a different decade. It was more like we were on a bus than a plane.


  1. Here is some trivia.. what is the one thing Dad ALWAYS wore every time we flew? Actually, 2 things!

  2. hehehe, yup and one more thing...


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