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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Flight to Nowhere

Embraer 175
Since I'm bored, and its likely you are too - if you're reading this column. I thought I'd capture the highpoints, and lowpoints of this flight to nowhere from Connecticut's Bradley International to Minneapolis-St. Paul. In fairness, this entry should be entitled the flight from nowhere to nowhere, but that'd be cruel.

5 am: Alarm blares. Time to get up and hit the shower. God willing my automatic coffee maker actually made my cup of Joe. I'm targeting to leave by 5:30 to get up to Bradley International Airport to make the flight. What could possibly go wrong? I hate flying, but it beats driving across country.

5:31 am: Grrrr. Not out the door. I have this vision of me standing at the end of the runway watching my plane blast off into the wild blue yonder. Trying to remember what I might have forgotten. I'm sure I've forgotten something, but I won't bloody know what it is until I go to look for it. Raid my Christmas Stocking... bonus, grab two protein bars that Santa left for me, and some breath mints.

5:40 am: Drag my luggage to the car. And my three carry-on bags. I know they are going to give me grief about having three carry-ons (the limit is two) even through one is a C-PAP. I have enough electronic equipment in my carry-ons to make it seem like I'm starting my own electronics store or to wire a small space station. Oh well, with that - I'm off. Glove, hat, snow boots, and I'm off...

6:15 am: Make it to the airport parking garage. Round and round and round we go, where there's a spot, I'll never know. Finally found something in the far corner of the garage. As long as I don't have to clean ice and snow off my car when I get in at 11 pm at night, I don't care if I have to walk 500 feet more.

6:30 am. Bring my luggage to the Delta Counter. I greet the guy at the counter with a smile, and a good morning, and tell him that I haven't flown in a long time - hoping it would help. Nope. I'm being waited on by a older black guy with a huge chip on his shoulder. Frak! He asks me for a credit card without telling me what its for, and then rolls his eyes and takes an attitude when he is forced to explain to me why he wants my card - any credit card identifies you against your reservation in the system. He whines on and on. Grrr. I hate to be stereotypical, but Jesus - it is what it is. So anyways, I try to be nice. He picks up my suitcase and declares that it feels overweight. He weighs it - and indeed - I'm exactly four pounds over the limit.

He tells me I have to remove four pounds from my bag or it will cost me an additional $90. I say or not me ... least, my company will pay it. He remarks that companies have all the money anyway. Wow. I bet this guy voted for Obama. So I take out a pair of shoes and weigh them. They weigh three pounds, he says ok, you're good. Just don't put them back in your luggage. He gives me a big break with the one pound excess.

I marvel over the airlines' genius - so I can be four pounds over the limit as long as I displace the weight by moving it from my luggage bag to my carry-on bag. Ok, whatever.

6:45 am. I bring my bag over to security praying they don't get carried away by ripping apart my nicely ironed shirts and slacks. It took me and hour to iron, press, and fold each item so it fits nicely in the bag. I ask the lady if she wants me to wait, I can tell she doesn't want me to wait, but insists its fine. After 8 minutes of watching the TSA clowns pile more bags in front of mine, I opt to just move ahead through the personal security checkpoint. Screw it!

6:50 am: Ok, I expect that because I'm a white male with blue eyes, that I'll likely fit the TSAs profile of the model Islamic terrorist. So I fully expect to be brought to a private room, stripped, and molested by an army of TSA agents. I put my three carry-ons in grey trays, and they instruct me to take my gear out (two lap tops, ipods, smartphone, GPS, lots of chargers, and a thousand wires) and put them all in separate trays. I'm asked to take my coat off, blah blah blah. To be a wise-ass I put my Manchester United winter hat in separate tray #9 by itself. Whatever. I smile at my weak attempt to get back at the system.
7 am: Not to bad. They let me repack all of my stuff and I head off on my journey through the airport.

7:10 am: Arrival at the dreaded holding area. I encounter a few employees from my last position. They are friendly. And they are kind enough to watch my stuff while I make my first eating violation. Breakfast at -- McDonald's. Jesh, they jack up the prices at the airport - where's the f'n dollar menu? $10 later - I'm off. Back to the holding area. I chat with some folks to pass the time.

7:15 am: I approach the Delta Desk with my so-called Boarding ticket. It states that I have a seat but that its UNASSIGNED. I hand it to the Asian woman and she is smile-free - all business. She hands me a revised boarding pass - aisle seat. Drat! I ask her if I can have a window seat, she says that she'd keep me in mind if one became available. I stumble a few feet from the desk feeling rejected. The lady behind me is greeted with a warm smile from the previously stoic Asian lady. Then I hear, "would you like an aisle or window seat?" I'm thinking "Christ!!" I wasn't even given the option!

I go back to my chair and frown thinking about the injustice of it all.

7:40 am: Oh No! From a distance I see the worst boss I've EVER had heading my way. A total A-HOLE who I've vowed to run down should I ever have the displeasure to encounter him again. The lady sitting across from me knows the problems I had with him. I signal to her with my eyes. She smirks. He wanders over and starts talking to everyone. Then, in an act of total stupidity introduces himself to me.... "Jeff." He mutters with hand extended. Under normal circumstances, you might normally say something, but surrounded by others who may be mutual acquaintances - best option is to say nothing and shake his hand - but I don't say anything. Funny this is that he's the most despised person in his organization. Well, enough about him. 10 zillion flights, and he has to be on the same flight to nowhere? Pray God's sense of humor isn't large enough to include me being stuck next to him on the plane.

8:00 am: I run into a few more people who happen to be going my way. One is the psychopath lady from Canada. Her name is Dana. And that is pronounced with a short a not a long A. She will correct you each time you say it wrong and get bent out of shape. Of course, I know better than to start off the day with her by mispronouncing her name. She greets me warmly but she is friends with the jackass I mentioned before so I play it cool.

8:05 am: Ok. why not give it a risk and find out if a Window Seat became available. I walk up to the Desk, and before I can finish my question, the Delta lady hands me a revised Boarding pass - window seat and all! Hooray! And bonus - its Row 5!

8:15 am: Boarding time. Ok, first things first - all the important people get to board first. Gold members, silver members, special members, members with stars, blah blah blah. And then first class. And then Zone 1, Zone 2, and lastly me - Zone 3. Hell, I guess I'm one step away from Kennel Class. But at least I have a Window Seat.

As I go to board another lady give me grief about having three bags.  I sharply fire back that one is a medically assisted device that doesn't count against my carry-on total. Seeing the fire in my eyes, she backs off. Grrr.

8:30 am: I finally get to board onto the plane! As I approach my seat, I see that my overhead compartment is already full. And so are the next twenty compartments. I end up putting my stuff over seat 23, I guess it will be a while before I get off the plane since I'd be like a salmon trying to swim upstream to get to my carry-ons. Oh well. Screw it. I'll take what I need and go back to my seat.

8:40 am: Back to my seat. I greet my seat counterpart. She is an older, red haired lady with a white complexion - not sure if this is the ghost or Mrs. Muir. She is very serious and straight-forward. I say hello, she says hello back. I try to make small conversation with her but she's not interested. She's reading work-stuff. Oh bore. No fun chat buddy, I get fuddy-duddy.

William Shatner plays the
perfect terrorized passenger
in the 1963 Twilight Zone
episode: Nightmare at 20,000 ft
8:45 am: Stewardess pushes a button and a recording welcomes us to Delta, and provides us instructions about seat belts, exits, and oxygen masks. The Stewardess emulates the tape by pointing and showing us how to use a seat belt. Sort of humorous actually. My favorite comment is learning that my seat could be used as a floatation device. Sure - if you survive panic, turbulence, smoke and fire, and lights flashing on and off, and then the break up of an airplane at Mock 2 - if by chance we happen to slowly land in a body of water, then I guess I'll grab my nifty seat to use as a floatation device. It's nice to know I have options. All else - punt. Boy, its got to be a crappy way to go.  Every time I fly I think of the Twilight Zone Episode Nightmare at 20,000 feet starring William Shatner which probably doesn't help.

Anyways, I begin to wonder exactly how many large bodies of water are between Hartford and Minneapolis. I bet aside from a few small rivers, probably not many.

8:55 am: We have lift off. Ears popping. Oh joy. I glance left and the red-haired lady is obviously unaffected. But I hear a baby wailing in the background. I feel sorry for the baby, but hope the kid is located right next to my ex-boss. He deserves it.

9 am: Stewardess warns us that the toilets in the back are frozen and won't flush. Everyone is asked to use the front toilets until they "unfreeze".  Boy I wonder if someone found out the hard way.

9:25 am: Things are just peachy. The stewardess comes by. She offers me a drink, I order tea. I ask her if she has honey. She smiles, turns her head to one side, and says in a sexy voice, "No, I'm afraid I'm the only honey here." I laugh, I almost say something coy in response, but I note that the red-haired lady isn't smiling. I keep it clean but smile and ask if I could have some sugar.

The Stewardess hands me a package of Delta cookies to go with my tea.  Wow.  I have to suggest if you fly Delta - these cookies are a must!

9:35 am: No free Wi-Fi on the flight, and I've already gone through the inflight magazines. Might as well blog.

9:40 am: All quiet, then we hear on the loud speakers: "If there is a medical professional on board please come to the front of the plane." Hmmm? Wonder what's going on? This could be interesting.

Ten minutes later, this Middle Eastern guy wearing a huge pair of glasses comes waddling back to his seat - diagonal from me - with the Stewardess in tow. She hands him a ginger ale. Oh No. Let's hope this guy doesn't have the flu or some dreaded stomach aliment that can be spread across the entire cabin. This guy should have taken the bus.

I feel bad for the poor guy sharing a seat with him. Uhg!

10 am: Baby wailing away in the back. Mom starts to pace in the aisle with crying baby so we can all get a earful. Poor kid. Keep her away from the Middle Eastern guy.

10:30 am: Stewardess finds a new seat for Middle Eastern guy's seat-mate. Poor guy. It's too late if this is anything but motion sickness. I make eye contact with the guy behind me who looks over at the Middle Eastern guy and then looks at me and smiles, and rolls his eyes. Then he says, "Jackass will infect us all, he should have stayed in Hartford."

10:50 am: Back to playing games on my phone. The red-haired lady is reading her printed emails. Who prints their emails? She reads them over and over. God, this lady is too serious.

11:00 am: Stewardess back with another Ginger Ale for the Middle Eastern guy who looks like he is going to puke.

11:15 am: Guys behind me are in loud conversation - most of it is ripping Hartford for being a big crap hole that used to have a lot of business, and now is on the verge of destruction. Sort of entertaining listening to these business guys go into detail about why Hartford and Connecticut have turned to dust. This guy is really hitting all the right notes. Keeps talking about all the abandoned buildings, and businesses leaving the State. I bet these guys didn't vote for Dan Malloy.  I chime in that the new Governor will not likely make the business climate any better.  They agree.

Red-haired lady reading what appears to be a 100 page presentation. Snore. I bet she is the type that as a kid got a 100 on the test and ruined the curve for everyone.

11:25 am Middle Eastern guy heads back to the toilet. Guy behind me glares at him and remarks that he was concerned that they were going to turn the plane around an hour ago because of this guy. I say, "Me too."

11:35 am: Mom and wailing baby make their rounds with two other children in two. They realize they can't get into the bathroom because the sick Middle Eastern guy is having his own personal party in the John. The Stewardess lets them know the bathroom won't be available for some time. They retreat in disgust. The poor mom looks miserable.

11:36 am: Middle Eastern guy returns, barf bag in tow. Please buddy, keep it together until we land. You can barf all day long in the airport. Just keep your puke to yourself.

11:50 am: We land safely. No big problems. As predicted, I'm about the last one off having to go to the rear of the plane to get to my stuff.  The fuddy-duddy doesn't even say "Good bye". Oh well.  And the adventure continues.

Like I said this was hardly an exciting entry.  But it was fun writing it.

The original entry can be found at

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