My husband and I are very much one of those “opposites attract” kind of couples. It’s apparent in many ways, but none more so than our opinions of air travel. Whereas he appreciates the hands-off approach to letting someone else do the navigating, I’d much rather go by car and retain the ability to stop when and where I want to.
We just returned from a trip to the Caribbean. The location necessitated that we fly and—as always—the air travel tried my patience. I don’t know your stance on the matter, but if you ask me the skies aren’t nearly as friendly as the airlines would have you believe. To be fair, I will say that the flight attendants that I’ve encountered have always been kind and professional. The pilots, too. In fact, during a family trip to Seattle earlier in the summer the pilots of our flight invited two of my children to the cockpit for a quick look-see and when it was time for the kids to return to their seats in the cabin, the pilots gave them parting gifts: little plastic wings that pinned to their shirts. If only fellow passengers were as considerate, I might have a different take on flying. The trouble, of course, is that they’re not.
I’m one of the lucky ones who almost always winds up sitting behind the guy who takes the liberty of reclining his seat into my lap. I’m often tempted to offer a temple massage, thinking that might be the hint he needs, but I hold my tongue. And when the lady in the seat next to me pulls out her greasy cheesesteak with extra garlic and onions, I smile politely and try to breathe through my mouth.
Lucky for me, I’m not a frequent flyer. My husband, on the other hand, has a career that requires him to travel a fair amount. One benefit of that is that his airline loyalty program affords him some handy perks. I venture to guess that those perks would explain our differing opinions on flying. For example, he breezes right through the long lines at both the check-in counter and security checkpoint. It gets better from there; his prime boarding position allows him first pick of the seats (nobody ever reclines into his lap).
On one aspect of airport woes, though, we can both agree: the baggage claim. Some airports have a fabulous system worked out where the conveyer belt snakes through a large area and passengers mosey up, one by one, and claim their bags. Other airports—like ours here in Tucson—feature a circular baggage claim. It wouldn’t be so bad if people didn’t crowd around it like cattle at a feeding trough. Both my husband and I agree that there should be a bold red line drawn ten feet back that a person could only cross once his or her luggage was dropped onto the belt. Would that not be a brilliant solution?
Now, if only I could figure out a way to keep that guy’s head out of my lap and that lady’s stinky sandwich from turning my stomach, all would be well. Let me know if you have any ideas on that.