Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flying the unfriendly skies

Travel used to be such a fun word for me. It meant vacation, fun, different, new. Then, eight years ago I started working for a business travel agency (which is very different from a leisure agency) and began some business travel myself. The result is that travel has lost much of its luster for me. I still appreciate a good vacation, but it’s the getting from point A to point B that I could do without. With the poor economy, I’ve alluded most travel this year due to budget cuts. But over the past month, I’ve had a fair amount of travel, and I’ve been reminded why it’s such a pain.

This is me on a typical business trip: I get stuck in security behind someone who doesn’t know they have to remove their shoes. (Really? After all this time you’ve never heard that before?) At the gate, someone next to me is talking loudly on his Bluetooth headset. (“Um, excuse me loud cell phone man…we’re not all looking at you ‘cuz we think you must be important, we’re looking at you because we’re really, really annoyed and want you to shut up.”) While boarding, I am pushed around and nearly smothered by people trying to fit their too large suitcase into the overhead bin (I’ve seen—and almost been a part of—arguments surrounding the overhead bins). Upon settling into my seat, a sick person is coughing behind me and I’m trying to avoid breathing the same air. I can barely hear my iPod because I end up sitting right by the engine, but for some reason I have no problem overhearing the loud conversation in front of me. In addition, air travel for me almost always involves either an early morning or a late night. All that in itself is enough, so I won’t even bother getting into the joys of sleeping in hotels.

Honestly though, despite all this, sometimes I walk through an airport and think to myself that air travel is a pretty neat thing. Those stuffy planes have taken me to some unique and interesting places, and have helped me to earn a living for my entire adult career. And, if nothing else, it makes for some entertaining travel tales…like the last minute dash to catch a flight, or the lost luggage (or, in my case, the lost photo ID), or the airport celebrity sighting, etc. What’s your best travel tale?

While traveling, you also learn to appreciate the small things in life…a hot meal, familiar faces, and the fact that tonight I get to sleep in my own bed!


  1. Sittng next to my co-worker on the flight as he vomits into the air sick bag. The flight wasn't even that rough.

  2. Yuck - I had a stranger throw up in my row once. I was on the aisle and she was on the window seat and it was her first flight ever. Thank God for the nice lady between us (also a stranger to us both) who helped her out. Sadly, she probably would not have had as good of treatment if I had been right next to her. I'm guessing the middle seat lady must have been a mom and dealt with that a time or two.

  3. My wife Krista was in Los Angeles for work and I traveled out to see her for the weekend. I normally take Dramamine for air travel but this time I could not take the proper dose because I was bringing along our toddler aged daughter and could not risk the drowsiness with the meds being that I was the sole person in charge of her safety and needs. Well I was fine from MSP to Denver, but started feeling awful on take-off from Denver and then worse when we flew into a thunderstorm to land at LAX. That plane did the roller coaster moves for about 20 minutes. By the time the plane got to the gate, I was turning colors and came very close to using the bag they so nicely provide. I waited for all others to deplane, and then the flight crew noticed me. I have to praise the staff at American Airlines because a very nice member of the cabin crew helped me get off the plane and took care of my daughter while the medical staff of the airport came to help. She stayed with me for about 45 minutes while I recovered a bit until she had to hustle off to another flight. American then let me stay in their lounge area while my wife came to the airport. There were so many strangers, both employees of the airline and fellow travelers that helped me that day, that later I was encouraged about the state of humanity.