I’m sure that most of you have travelled on a plane at some point. Going to your destination is usually more exciting than leaving, but I guess it all depends on the situation. If it’s a holiday, then most likely yes. If it’s back home for a leisurely visit, then that’s good too. If it’s an illness, death or for business, then chances are not so great, obviously in the first two instances anyway. Either way, air travel is an experience nonetheless. Especially nowadays. While I thoroughly enjoy travelling and do a fair bit of it, there are always some hiccups along the way even as far as departure and arrival times, which some airlines are better at adhering to than others. So, in this post which was mostly written en route a couple of weeks ago, please allow me the chance to ‘air’ a few grievances (which I try not to do often), as I am sure some of you other travellers can relate to. To say that this fits under today’s prompt of ‘punishment’ is a bit of a stretch, but there is a brief tie-in toward the end:-). All still intended as light reading of which you are welcome to agree or disagree with, as always.
Back when I was a kid, going on a plane was a REALLY big deal. Everyone got dressed up, as though it were their last voyage of sorts. Hot meals and blankets were free, drinking seemed encouraged and luggage had no fees. Not many people that I knew of back in the day could afford air travel, and certainly those who went usually did not go as often as people seem to be jet-setting these days. I’m not sure I’d even want to know the stats regarding how many planes are occupying air space at the same time on their routes to and from various parts of the world. Might be kinda scary to think of, so I’ll just leave that one alone. Some things are better left in the not knowing stage…know what I mean?!
Of course, those of us who do travel and travel frequently know the routines and requirements beginning with all of the necessary home preparations for one’s trip. In addition to cleaning, laundry and packing, it is imperative these days to check in 24 hours ahead of time, with the ever so kind option of purchasing costly seat selections (seats which appear to be sized smaller and smaller, I might add, while ‘plus/business’ fares increase…hmmm…interesting.) I say, ‘Come on, paying for seats?’ How dare I might like to sit with the person with whom I am travelling? What a silly expectation on my part! (Can you tell that I don’t like that idea at all?) But that is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Then, there is the getting to and fro the airport, parking (oh, the parking and prices), shuttle buses, check-in with the airline-sometimes using those very intuitive machines (not!), printing your own baggage tags, weighing luggage, going through security (shoeless, in most places), figuring out which gate to go to, watching the board for rapidly changing arrival/departure times, etc. Now, most-to-do’s mentioned involve waiting and line-ups, which is to be expected. It’s just that now there seems to be even more waiting and line-ups as well as ever-changing rules about what is acceptable to travel with and what is not. And now, with most carriers, there are the required baggage fees for the first piece of checked luggage. Imagine?! As if travelling with a suitcase is a privilege, not a right…hmmm. Too bad, we all NEED a few things to take with us, eh? (Why we all still book trip tickets with this latest ploy to steal more of our hard-earned dollars, I’ll never know? Well, not exactly true, as I think I do know. Likely I’m guessing it’s because we are all hooked on our ability to head off to our latest destinations at the drop of a dime or two or three and they, the powers that be, know it, but anyway. I’m guilty of partaking, so it is what it is.) Okay, but here it is…the real problem with the luggage fees is that it has created a whole new issue for ALL of us, separate from the litany of other things just to get to the gate, as per the aforementioned list. You know the issue of which I am speaking about, right? Yep…you guessed it. Carry. On. Items. So, let’s get into it a little. Just a little.
I always understood ‘carry-on’ luggage to mean that each of us were allowed a small bag and/or purse containing essential items for travel should we get separated from our suitcase from Point A to Point B. I usually have my purse and a small bag with snacks, reading material, my neck pillow, charging cords (okay, so nowadays I admit that essentials have changed, but…), and some people add in a change of clothing or PJ’s and a toothbrush, etc. which is actually pretty wise. Now, don’t get me wrong. Charging for one piece of luggage is purely ridiculous in my opinion as alluded to previously, but something tells me that the notion of paying more to fly isn’t going to go away any time soon, much like taxes. I certainly understand that people feel as though these extra charges are some form of punishment (see, I did get the word prompt in) and want to avoid them, but seriously?! It’s gosh darned amazing what folks try to get away (and often do, I might add) with respect to bringing and stowing items in the infamous overhead compartments. I assure you that some of these supposed ‘carry-ons’ are not even close to one’s essentials…they are, in fact, AN ENTIRE SUITCASE!! And no, the said bags don’t even come close to meeting the ‘specified’ measurements provided by airlines. As a result, boarding the plane has become an even longer ‘waiting and line-up’ process in that flight attendants are forever asking for patrons to surrender their bags at the gate prior to departure since “the flight is full” and they anticipate a lack of overhead space. Well, naturally there would be a problem, wouldn’t there since everyone is now determined to bring their entire trip’s worth of belongings on board sans charges. While I can appreciate the dilemma and detest paying the extra fees, it would make life a whole lot easier for us all if, while checking in, the airlines measured ‘carry-ons’ like I thought that they were supposed to? And, I hate to say, but if your bag doesn’t adhere to the standard requirements, then it must be checked right then and there. No, ifs, ands or buts. That way, the rest of us folks who planned carefully can actually place their pint-sized things safely in the designated compartment without the fear of having their items squished to smithereens by some big ol’ hard-sided trunk. Sorry, but it’s true. Naturally, it would be nice if airplanes would create more space for our bags (not likely), or ditch the added charges (also, not likely), but until then, people need to start reinforcing and adhering to the guidelines. There, said my piece on that. (Well, I admit that it kinda feels good to get that one ‘off my chest’.)
As for the actual flight itself, where you are seated, who you are seated with, the length of your flight, the time of day you travel, etc. can all bring about some very interesting things as well. You learn a lot about people in confined spaces, don’t you? Good habits, bad habits, no habits– aka, ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’. I’m sure that we could all tell our fair share of stories, but that’s not my intention here, and I am likely not innocent in all things either. What I do find intriguing, however, is how one chooses to spend their flight time. If it’s a red-eye like the one we are on tonight, most are trying to sleep. Notice that I said trying. Otherwise, activities these days usually consist of a phone, iPad, laptop, tablet or on a more rare occasion, an actual book. I am guilty of the iPad for sure now that I have begun writing again as I tap away just as I am right now, and I’ve also been known to take in the occasional movie here or there on longer flights, but often I can be found observing others and/or chatting with my husband or seat partner. (Tonight, I am actually typing in the dark trying to keep my reading light off, so as not to disturb the lady seated next to me who is trying, and maybe? succeeding at some zzz’s.) It goes without saying that bathroom trips are sometimes part of the adventure, especially when seated in the middle or window seats like I am, let alone the joys of using the lavatory itself. And, a definite must on the plane is cashing in on the cart service which usually offers at least one free non-alcoholic beverage and twelve pretzel sticks or two cookies, your choice:-). After all, ‘you paid for it,’ right? Then again, having to use the tray tables is a whole other story for self-proclaimed ‘germaphobes’ like me. Yikes!! A topic that I will also let rest at that, as I don’t even want to think about it more than I already have. But, I should add that, ‘WetOnes-Antibacterial’ are essential. Before eating and to clean off the tray. (Those who know me well know that I likely own some shares in such company by now simply by default.) Of course, the tray thing makes me think about all of the sneezing and coughing that seems never-ending on a plane (ever notice that?), along with the ‘fresh’ blowing air valve above your head. Great…a confined space, recycled air and cold germs. ‘Ahh!’ Dare I say that it would be nice if everyone remembered to cover up their mouth or nose..AND not with their hands, which will continue to touch everything, including the tray table that I just cleaned?! Yes, sleeves are a must when travelling, folks. Thank you kindly!
Well, you’ve likely heard enough of my rant by now because I know I have. Besides, my twelve pretzel sticks, which I paid for, are eagerly awaiting me, along with my carefully positioned neck cushion from my properly sized ‘carry-on’:-). That being said, I should be ready for continuous hours of…yep, you guessed it… head bobbing with intermittent sleep, if I should be so lucky. So I’ll stop here with this post, as I reach for my always at-the-ready, ‘Wet Ones’ hand wipe. (Remember–wipe before you eat;-).
Shall I end with, ‘Red-eye flight, be good to me tonight’. May sweet memories of the Big Island of Hawaii that we left just a short while ago bestow our dreams. To you, I say ‘Aloha and Mahalo’ for travelling with me and ‘listening’ to my ramblings and gripes on this very plane ride. Safe, happy, and carefree travels to you…and your carry-on luggage, which has been priced just right. No sarcasm intended—well, maybe.