Random Thoughts on Airline Travel

posted on: March 21, 2007

Flight Cancelled. New Flight Booked. Sitting in the Phoenix Airport, 5:37 local time:

I used to live here.. I forgot how pretty mountain scenery is. I loved painting mountains... so simple and pretty. In elementary school (3rd grade?), my art teacher took one of my mountain paintings to a conference to show everyone how perceptive I was about the way that colors and sharpness of objects fade the farther away from you they are. I didn't know why my art teacher made a big deal out of it, afterall, couldn't everyone see things the way I saw them? Apparently not, and thus began my fascination with perceptions and optical illusions.

Phoenix has expanded a LOT since I lived here (20 years ago)? I love that this airport has free wi-fi. Why don't all airports have free wi-fi? I could get more work done when my flight is cancelled! So yeah.. the second half of my flight was cancelled. I guess the plane I was supposed to be on is grounded in Chicago due to bad weather. The weather in Indy was great and it's really nice here in Phoenix as well! Come to think of it... it's pretty rare that Indiana has really extreme weather. Maybe more airlines should make Indy their hub... at least then people could drive to Chicago in 3-4 hours even if their plane is grounded.

Here are a few random thoughts about airline travel...

  • Arrive at least an hour early.
    Not so you can get to the plane on time, but so your luggage can (I really pushed it today by arriving 20 minutes before my flight)

  • Get the first flight of the day.
    It always leaves on time (unless weather plays a factor) and there will be few, if any, screaming babies.

  • Wear slip-on shoes.
    You know you're going to have to take them off when you go through security, and because there's rarely a place to sit down and put them back on, you end up bending over and holding up the line if you have to tie laces.

  • Don't get your Starbucks fix until after you get through the security check-point.
    It would suck to pay $5 for an espresso that you only get a few sips of before you have to dump it in the trash.

  • Bring healthy snacks.
    Airports and airlines take advantage of hungry travelers by offering less than healthy food options at fine cuisine prices.

  • Check in online the day before.
    Not only will it allow you to check your bags at the curb and avoid a line at the ticket counter, it will also give you a better chance to choose the seat you really want (depending on the airline).

  • Let others board the plane first.
    Unless you're concerned about finding a spot in the overhead compartment for your luggage, or you absolutely must have an aisle or window seat (for those who fly Southwest), what's the advantage to boarding early? Having people smack you in the head with their luggage as they walk by? I fly Southwest quite a bit and I just prefer not to wait in the boarding lines. I sit in the comfy leather seats with my laptop battery plugged in and wait until most of the people in my boarding line have gone through and then get up when the end of the line is near. I like to choose who I sit next to, and you only get to make that choice when other people have already chosen their seats. Spend one long plane flight next to a guy who hasn't showered in three days and you'll want to choose who you sit next to as well!

  • The window seat is roomier.
    I used to love aisle seats because I could stretch my 60" of legs out into the aisle. (That's 30" x 2 in case you thought I was freakishly tall.) But now that butt room is more important than leg room, I choose the window seat for that extra inch you get between the seat & the window, as well as the chance to lift up the armrest to create even more space. If you happen to be a toothpick, choose the middle seat so that the fat guy (or fat me) doesn't get stuck in the middle where he'll take over your window or aisle seat with his blubber which has no where else to go.

  • Chew gum.
    If you're chewing on something, you either won't notice your ears popping with the change in air pressure, or it will happen so effortlessly that you won't have to plug your nose and try to equalize it by adding pressure inside your head.

  • If you start to feel sick...
    Don't try to read. Don't look out the window. Either lean forward resting your head on the seat in front of you and take long deep breaths, or look straight ahead in the plane and again, take deep breaths. Not sure if it works for everyone, but that's what works for me!

2 more hours until my next flight.. woo hoo!

4 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Oh, Anne, that stinks! I hope your next flight got off the ground safely. As always when you travel, you're in my prayers.

    My travel advice is to drink water or juice in order to keep your skin hydrated (since planes are such notoriously pleasant climates *cough*) and to bring a fun book to read - one that is absorbing but doesn't require a lot of concentration. Planes are probably not the best place for an exhaustive, 900-page examination of Gettysburg. ;)

    I was amazed at the size of the plane for our flight from Detroit to Atlanta. It was TEENY and while I'm not a stick...I felt like a sardine or something. It's probably a good thing I dozed off until we began approaching Atlanta!

    It's still so cool to see everything from that high up, though - that human beings can climb into a cylinder and go tearing through the sky is still an amazing feat, even after 100 years.

  2. Hmm... well, the weather may get slightly extreme once tornado season hits. But, I suppose that's not that frequent, so, a little more manageable.

    Hope the rest of your flight went well!

  3. I am so jealous that you can pull off arriving 20 minutes before your flight. I live in Atlanta, and if you're not there 1-2 hours before your flight, you won't make it through security in time. Period. Because of this, no matter what airline I'm flying I start getting nervous if I arrive less than an hour before my flight :-)


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