With increased air travel during the holiday season, many are winging long distances for the first time since last holiday season. For the infrequent traveler, I’ve kept a log of my last cross-country flight to explain just how bad it can be. The flight was from Los Angeles (LAX) to New York City (JFK).
4:30 a.m.: Picked up at home by Phil’s Speedy Discount Airport Shuttle. Motto: “If we’re more than 15 minutes late, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.”
5:45: Arrive Los Angeles International Airport. Curbside check-in offers high tech Computerized Tracking System (CTS) which ensures that your luggage will arrive in Nepal 20 minutes before you land in New York.
6:00: Ticket counter uses new Random Queuing System (RQS). Queue is a British term meaning: “You’re in the wrong line, stupid.” I queue up in the Odd Size line, then am booted out when told Odd Size refers to luggage only.
6:15: Security check. Foreign passenger ahead of me is asked: “Did person or persons unknown to you pack your luggage, pat your butt or recite lyrics to anything by Puff Daddy?” He responds, “My salad shooter has an embolism,” and is waved through.
7:30: Preboarding begins for preboards who need assistance, assistants who need preboarding, first class, business class, no class, private 1st classes, tattooed youths, passengers on the wrong plane and those who play dumb and pretend their row has been called.
8:15: Pilot announces, “The fine folks in maintenance have informed me they have to recalibrate and functionalize the leading edge hydraulic spoiler actuation pressure stabilizer, and will get on it as soon as Chief Mechanic Fat Mel finishes his doughnut.”
11:47: Emergency landing to remove Fat Mel from engine cowling.
12:15 p.m.: Re-takeoff.
12:45: Breakfast. Choices are “runny eggs with sumpthin’ green in ‘em” or “Fruit Loops ‘n’ curdled milk.”
1:15: Aisle-racing by sugar-rushed toddlers begins.
1:45: Pilot asks if anyone has seen his keys to the liquor cabinet.
2:00: Edited for airline version of Showgirls begins.
2:06: Edited for airline version of Showgirls ends.
3:15: Pilot says, “Passengers on our left side can see Columbus, Ohio. Those on the right can see Lima, Peru.”
4:45: Surly flight attendants collect the breakfast trays.
5:00: Inadvertently land at Teterboro, N.J., airport long-term parking lot. Pilot says he’ll taxi aircraft to JFK.
5:15: Skippy the copilot collects spare change for turnpike tolls.
5:30: Detour to Hackensack so Skippy can drop off laundry and tuck in the kids.
6:15: Arrive at gate.
6:45: Computerized Tracking System claims I don’t have any luggage, I never had luggage, I’ll never have luggage again, and it’s not that fond of my tie.
11:45: Luggage from previous trip delivered to room.
— by John H. Corcoran, Jr.