I’ve hated the flight experience for quite some time now.
No, not the flying itself. You go up, you sit around, you come down. I’ve never had any fears, and with the exception of one terrible Frontier landing, flying has never caused me any uncomfortable moments of panic.
But everything else drives me nuts.
The Flight Experience
Long lines, outrageous prices, dehydration, waiting forever for luggage, seats leaning back into your lap. These problems with the flight experience have never gone away. In fact, some of the aforementioned have gotten worse in recent months.
And despite the rapid advancement of just about everything in the world, the flight experience has only seemed to make two improvements: Personal movie screens and the abolition of smoking.
It’s hard to even remember a time in which there was only one movie showing, on one screen for everybody. But it’s even harder to remember a time in which I had to suffer through other people’s nasty habits for the duration of the flight. It still shocks me they ever allowed this! Or that people pretended like the smoke didn’t fill up the entire plane. Or that sometimes you got stuck sitting just one row in front of smokers and were supposed to pretend like that was somehow a different section.
But alas, those relatively minor improvements have graced the flight experience. The other miserable aspects seem locked in place.
But they got worse…
And I couldn’t imagine a world in which things got worse… but then some asshats decided to use airplanes as a weapon in the worst terrorist attack in history. And now a bunch of hopefully well-meaning people have turned a difficult experience into a caricature of the flight experience. One moment you’re taking off your shoes for no particular reason. The next you’re chugging your water bottle. And a few moments later, you’re panicking that your scissors are not regulation length.
And for a good one to two hours before you are trapped in an uncomfortable chair for several more hours, you feel like you just paid a boatload of money in order to be treated like a criminal.
Last time we flew, we had some expensive fake cream cheese in a carry-on that we were told we couldn’t bring (you know, because of the infamous Vegan Cream Cheese Bomber), but we were told that if we spread the cream cheese on the bagels in the bag, then it would be OK. Because as we all know, explosive cream cheese loses its potency upon contact with gluten. Ha, jokes on you TSA! These bagels were gluten free! Those fools didn’t anticipate our dedication to foiling their ironclad security.
But I digress.
And even worse…
I honestly couldn’t imagine the flight experience getting worse. I mean, getting frisked by TSA employees during your three-hour wait before listening to your pilot tell you the altitude while you’re trying to sleep was bad enough.
But life never ceases to amaze me.
Somehow or other after several decades of dreading travel for all the aforementioned reasons (and more), I finally found the right travel partner. And I caught a bit of the bug that people talk about. People actually want to do this and enjoy it. And a small part of me was finally starting to understand.
And then the world shut down.
And here I stand. Inches away from stepping into an airport for the first time in over two years. And we have all the initial problems that never went away. We have all the post 9-11 security measures that could make travel a nightmare for just about anybody. But 2022 has brought new concerns and heightened concerns.
Before, flying was expensive. Now it’s uber insanity expensive. Prior to this wacky time in history wait times could be hellish… and now they’re a bit longer. There was always a fear of delays and cancellations, but now those fears have jumped to the next level.
So for a mere small fortune, I get to be uncomfortable for twelve hours, after waiting around and being treated like a common criminal for the four hours that precede the twelve hours. All with a fear lingering in the back of my mind that there’s something like a 30% chance the flight’s not even going to happen at all!
Before We Take Off
All of this combined with the ever-pressing and daunting Covid concerns… of which getting Covid isn’t even one of them! Been there, done that. Got a fever and some night sweats, and then just a couple of days later, everything went back to normal. No, as usual I don’t fear the illness. I fear quarantines and lockdowns. I fear harsh and hasty governmental decisions.
I fear getting stuck in quarantine and having to miss my flight to the States. Or getting stuck in quarantine and thus getting trapped in America, unable to return to my life. I fear the return of restrictions that I’ve enjoyed saying goodbye to. Am I going to be stuck wearing a mask during my flight or during a Broadway show or in an Uber? Am I going to show up in the States only to find they’ve shut down everything I want to do when I get there?
Hopes and Prayers
So, here I am, writing about my feelings before I head out to the airport… yet publishing after I’ve already returned. I hope to God it turned out these fears were all irrelevant.
I hope to God none of my flights were cancelled or delayed. No luggage was lost. I spent my entire trip out and about, free as a bird to enjoy all the fun that New York has to offer, without any of the annoying 21st century frustrations that could make for an uncomfortable day. I hope the TSA were courteous and didn’t grab me for a random invasion of privacy.
And I beg and plead with the universe that I returned back to my home, my kiddos, my dog, and my normal everyday routine with only positive stories about our epic adventure in America. Since I last saw you, a whole crapload has happened over there! I miss you a bunch, beloved homeland. Hope we still get along.