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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

The title says it all.

Christ, I hate air travel. Really, you have no idea how much I hate air travel.

Highlights involved:

1) Airplanes that were late. A lot. Apparently Delta airplanes are late so often that one should just take the airline’s inability to meet a schedule as a given.  We flew on four Delta airplanes during this trip, every single one of them was significantly late. Every single one.

Note: on our first Delta flight out of Anchorage, the general consensus was that Delta’s lateness was either somehow Barack Obama’s fault – or it should be. After we’d taken off (an hour late due to some kind of “maintenance issue”) and had finally achieved cruising altitude, the pilot, Captain Todd, came on the horn and sort of cheerfully apologized for his tardiness. Sorry about the delay folks and just so you know we’re pushing into a “headwind” so you probably shouldn’t get your hopes up when it comes to making those connections and thanks for flying Delta!” A bunch of unshaven types who smelled strongly of fish, campfire smoke, Viagra, Jack Daniels, and eau de midlife crisis offered up the following in loud outraged tones, “Fuck your apology! We all know what’s going on here! Hey, maybe Obama should take over the airlines next and give everybody universal air travel for free! That ought to fix it!” The shouted suggestions went downhill from there. Oh how I love Alaska tourists, the Palin Groupies are especially entertaining.

2) Sprinting. There was much more sprinting than I anticipated for air travel. The sprinting was related to the previously listed item – i.e. Delta’s institutional lateness. On the way from Alaska to Michigan my son and I sprinted through three terminals and down the length of two huge concourses at Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport and managed to make our connection just as they were closing the door.  On the return leg of the trip, my son and I sprinted through Detroit Metro/Wayne County Airport, and managed to make our connection again just as they were closing the door (though we mostly made the connection because there was some kind of problem and the crew was removing two women and their little dogs from the plane – if it had been on time, we’d have missed it).

I will say that, given the choice, Detroit is a better airport for track and field events. There are less obstacles and everything is laid out in a straight line. If you have to sprint, do it in Detroit, that’s what I’m saying. Also, if you fly Delta, you might want to join a gym.

3) Obnoxious flight crews. Did Delta’s flight attendants just lose a union negotiation or something? Because they are universally a bitter, surely, humorless bunch. It’s as if Delta aircraft are crewed exclusively by John McCain’s former presidential election committee.

4) Unbelievably overpriced food items.  It’s possible that the flight crews’ desultory attitudes stem from the fact that Delta has gone cashless in the cabin.  Flight attendants are now required to use a wireless electronic widget to take credit card transfers from passengers instead of cash.  I suspect this cuts into their take home income considerably.  We’re all used to $5 for a can of warm Lite beer from some discount brewery in Milwaukee that specializes in converting sewage treatment planet effluvium into ballpark refreshments, but now Delta is charging $8 for a “personal” sized can of Pringles, $8 for a bag of M&M’s (no, I’m not kidding), and $12 for one of those extra special airline sandwiches.  You can get better food at better prices at the movie theater.

5) This:

image

It’s hard to make out, but you’re looking at the King, Queen, and the Royal Princes of Douchebagdom. This idiot had to be in his late 40’s. His trophy wife, which I’m guessing was either a stripper or a paid employee of Donald Trump or both, was wearing a tiny, tiny scrap of cloth under that jacket around her waist.  She apparently thought it was a miniskirt, but only in the Kit Kat Klub or a Republican Fund Raiser would that thong be considered appropriate covering for her nether regions. Let’s just say that when she periodically removed and retied that jacket, you could tell her religion – which I’m guessing was Hare Krisna, though they usually shave their heads and not their, uh, never mind.  Also? Really cute tattoo. She must be very popular at the local PTA meetings.  The kids were exactly as you’d expect, loud, obnoxious, and unrestrained in any fashion whatsoever. Note the pile of carry-on luggage. Four huge backpacks. Four giant bags. Four tennis racket bags (Nothing says douche bag like a tennis racket bag, folks, just sayin). Two giant poster tubes. A huge camera bag.  And two miniature poodles, which roamed cheerfully unfettered around the concourse at the Gerry Ford International Airport, even venturing into the men’s room, the entrance of which this band of idiots was blocking. These people took up two entire luggage bins. But, you know, next to crying babies, I really enjoy a good background of fighting children and barking poodles. Yes.

 

Have I mentioned how much I hate air travel? Have I?

More later.

After I have food, coffee, and a hot shower.

20 comments:

  1. There aren't many things I hate more than air travel. I'd rather drive for the 13 hours it takes to get from Albany to Chicago than get on a plane. And my family appreciates it, too, as I'm a much calmer and pleasant person. I'm even considering the 42-hour drive to Phoenix... because air travel sucks just that much.

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  2. You should have targeted them with the Giant Orbital Fusion Death Ray before boarding. People like that should be sterilized, then euthanized. There should actually be a questionnaire for continued breathing rights that contains the query: "Would you ever consider air travel with your pet as checked luggage?" An answer in the affirmative should result in immediate disintegration.

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  3. Vagabond, these two dogs were traveling as carry on baggage - in addition to all the other shit they were carrying.

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  4. Well, if you're going to take a picture of the damn trophy wife, wait until she drops the damn jacket! ;-)

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  5. I was wondering who was going to bring that up first, Chris, I should have known it would be the SWO.

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  6. OK, wait a second. From my single journey into Alaska on Alaska Airlines, I took away the rule that one should NEVER fly Alaska Air if there is anything close to an alternative. If Delta is out, too, how they hell are you folks supposed to travel?

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  7. If Delta is out, too, how they hell are you folks supposed to travel?

    Weren't you paying attention during the last Presidential election. They can take a short drive and then fly Aeroflot!

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  8. Nick from the O.C.August 10, 2010 at 10:29 PM

    The airline is irrelevant, isn't it? They're all pretty much equally bad.

    The sad fact is that all major US-based carriers suck, particularly in comparison to international carriers. For example, I once had occasion to fly Lufthansa business class from LAX to Frankfurt (Rheinmain) and then the next week fly United first class from LAX to Heathrow. There was no comparison -- Lufthansa was so much better in every way.

    US-based carriers suck so bad that Congress had to pass a law saying that government contractors had to use them when flying on government business. Otherwise, nobody would if given any kind of decent alternative.

    That said, O'Hare has a decent puddle-jumper to Grand Rapids. Just saying ...

    Also: welcome back.

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  9. Welcome home Jim. Now you can "vacation" from your "air-travel vacation."

    Like Kelly, at this point, I'd rather drive than fly. Anytime.

    When it comes to too many carryon bags, I don't know who to hate more. The people who bring too many bags or the airline that let's them bring said bags onto the plane. Jeebus! All those AND the dogs too? Haven't these people ever heard of a kennel?

    All of it is enough to make one want to grab some brewskis, tell everyone to (ahme) "Cheney" themselves, and jump down the emergency escape chute (bags first).

    Oh wait, that's already happened....

    SP

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  10. Nathan's comment wins the Stonekettle Award for the day.

    If you have to fly a domestic airline, Continental is pretty good, at least it was the last time I flew it. Which may be why Delta suffered so much in comparison. Delta gives every appearance of an airline on the edge of bankruptcy.

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  11. Jim - I'm also one of the single men on the board ;-)

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  12. It's unlikely that I'll be able to fix you up, but I'll see what I can do...

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  13. Well Air France and Al Italia suck even worse than US carriers, so there is that to be happy about.

    Speaking of which, you ought ot just be happy you weren't on Ted Stevens' flight. :p

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  14. Nick from the O.C.August 11, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    Jim, I last flew Continental in 1987. It was not a good flight--unless you like unexpected overnight stays in Ciudad Mexico, F.D. (Ah, La Zona Rosa ... but that's another story for another day.)

    Anyway, I've flown about a million miles since then, almost none of which was on Continental. I'd say zero but the boss made me fly to Houston on that airline once in 1994. Otherwise, nil.

    They could be the best airline in the world and I'd never know it, or care.

    I call that "voting with my pocketbook." It works only when you have a valid alternate choice. Arguably there's no delta between Delta and Continental and United and American, so the choice is probably more illusory than real. But at least I feel better ....

    amenesse -- when Herman Hesse is your deity, this word ends all prayers.

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  15. The really scarry part about the denim jacket chick is she's breeding in the shallow end of the gene pool.

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  16. Forgot to welcome you back.

    I was amazed when I last flew an American airline, it was like stepping back in time, there's no screen on the back of the seat for entertainment! No wonder y'all go on about kindles and ipads;)

    Flying is a special hell. The only airline I enjoy is Air New Zealand, they even have *people* answer the phone without having to wait or press a key! If they served everywhere they would probably suck too.

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  17. Ever since the Continental flight that had old duct tape holding the inside of the plane together I have never felt truly relaxed on a Continental flight.

    The best deal on Delta food wise is the $5 travel treats box. Cheese (real), crackers, chips, jerky, dried fruit, micro Hershey bar...

    And my peeve is the stupid luggage belt! Keep your damn kids away from it! In fact, if everyone stood back about 5 feet, and only stepped forward when you saw your bag, (you can recognise your OWN damn bag, can't you?) it would be so much easier. I swing a 50 pound loaded Pelican case of tools off that belt, and it will be at about 4 year-old face level... Just saying...

    Sitting here in LAX waiting for my Delta red-eye home to Cinci.

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  18. Yeah.

    I missed my father-in-law's funeral after spending four hours sitting on the tarmac in a Delta plane. And the tiny remains of the night on the floor in the Detroit airport. That's after paying several hundred dollars to change my flight so as to get home for the funeral.

    Didn't make the funeral. Or the burial. Or the luncheon.

    I live in a moderately small town, and the choices are usually Delta or drive 3-4 hours to a larger airport.

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  19. PS. Usually I don't mind - my mother lives near the Detroit airport, so when I get stuck there we get together. But once in a while I really need to be somewhere.

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  20. When I used to fly from Seattle to Pittsburgh regularly 25 years ago, air travel was actually fun. It can't all be because of 9/11! Delta added three days to my trip to Finland last year. This included leaving me and my 8-year-old daughter stranded in NY and refusing to pay for a hotel room and shunting us all over the US in an attempt to get back to Pittsburgh. I would say I will never fly Delta again, but what would be the point? They are all about as bad anymore. Except FinnAir. They are great!

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