Views: If we’re all planning holidays once more, bear in mind: Flying will not be going to be enjoyable
As I keep going back to activities and areas of life that I put aside during the pandemic, I usually get a little rush when I do something for the first time. I can tell you in detail about the first movie I saw, the first meal I ate in an outdoor restaurant, and the first time I strolled around the mall; The first time doing these things in 15 months or more it adds a memorable, hyper-conscious quality to routine activities.
This week I booked my first flights since before the pandemic.
This experience … wasn’t in much rush. I mostly thought: “Ugh, that again.”
I generally hate to fly. I am not afraid or worried about it; I just find it an extremely uncomfortable experience. For most of the day, you will be exposed to cramped seats, awful noises and smells, physical disorientation, bad or no food, and intimate contact with complete strangers.
You pay around $ 500 for this privilege. (And that’s at the bottom.)
I drive everywhere I can; My drive-not-fly radius is around 10-12 hours. I like to lose a bit of travel time when I can avoid getting on a plane.
This is largely not Pittsburgh International Airport’s fault. We don’t quite have enough direct flights for my liking – have fun getting to New Orleans – and you’re unlucky if in your rush to get to your gate you fail to notice where in the maze of parking lot you left your car. (Once, after a very long day of travel, I heard the announcement of the final departure and almost shouted with a terrible realization: It was midnight, it was 20 degrees, and I had no idea where I had parked.)
Okay, a local complaint: why do we have exactly one security checkpoint that looks like the beer line at a south side bar and then another, hidden security checkpoint that may or may not be open at all times? Let’s streamline things, PIT.
Anyway, aside from these minor criticisms, I find our airport a reasonably accessible and pleasant place. (Anywhere with Fraley’s robot repair is fine with me.) My annoyance isn’t with Pittsburgh International.
For the most part, it is not the case with my fellow travelers either. We all go through this process of irritation together, just trying to endure the long, crooked hours until we can relax in Florida or Las Vegas or … do we still have direct international flights from PIT? Uh, don’t bother, go to Newark and fly from there.
Do I hate individual passengers during the flight? Yes, please. But I keep it to myself. As we speak, just a few notes: Stop bringing food. I know the meals on board aren’t great and you must be in a hurry. That’s no reason for you to unpack a chicken meal on a dirty tray table six inches from my wrist. Unless you are crossing an ocean, you can eat before boarding and wait for you to land. Let’s try to keep as many additional odors and substances on the floor as possible.
(And my very first complaint from fellow passenger number one: If the plane finishes taxiing at the gate and the seat belt light goes off, don’t jump off your seat and grab your luggage. You are not going anywhere for a while. If you ain’t going in The first three rows, it’ll be another 10 minutes or so. Keep reading your Stephen King book. Don’t stand in the hallway with your sweaty polo shirt floating to my still seated face because you think all the people in front of you are magical The way cobwebs will vanish in the night air.
Despite the previous scolding, I insist that my complaint will not reach my fellow travelers. It’s inevitable with the airlines.
The madness of making more money has resulted in incredibly crowded flights, overworked and underpaid pilots and flight attendants, reduced amenities, nickel-and-dime fees, and an ever-increasing atmosphere of vague irritation among everyone involved. Choosing a flight and an airline in the 21st century is no longer about which airline you prefer. it’s about who offers the fewest humiliations.
But don’t worry – I have a solution. Airlines, I’m here to solve all of your problems by changing the previously inevitable social nuisance of air travel that will cause passengers to overlook all of your many, many shortcomings.
It’s a simple conversion: eliminate the first grade. Place a sound barrier in the middle of the aircraft. Everyone who travels with babies and children goes up front; behind nothing but calm adults and no high-pitched wailing.
Promise me an earache toddler won’t screech into my brain all the way to Phoenix and you can ask me anything you want.