THE ABC’s of TRAVELING -The Joys of Flying Edition

Apparently no Mamava Pod at this airport

AtlantaEveryone has heard the old adage, “Even if you are traveling to Hell, you have to go through Atlanta first”. If you are flying in the Eastern part of The United States, this is an accurate assessment. Worse still is if you ever have to actually drive in Atlanta. Below is a picture of Atlanta traffic after 1-2 inches of snow. Avoid Atlanta, but chances are that you can’t.

Atlanta snow debacle

Black-Out Dates No, I’m not talking about Bill Cosby’s favorite pastime, I’m referring to the dates that you actually want to travel. They are not available to you, so just deal with it. For the cheapest airline fares always shop on Tuesday and try to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Saturdays. If your travel days are flexible you can save hundreds of dollars by just flying on particular days. Most reservation web sites have a monthly view option where you can compare. You’re welcome.

ChildrenChildren are the bane of every airline traveler. Let me get one thing out of the way. I love children. Well, that’s a lie. I hate the little buggers. Lately it seems that on every flight from Denver to Memphis they have emptied all the orphanages and Day Care Centers, and put the occupants on MY flight. For obvious reasons, all children under the age of NINE should be put into a medically-induced coma and stored in the cargo area. If the parents refuse, then any offending disruption of a flight should incur a $10,000 fine. Subsequent infractions would carry the penalty of mandatory sterilization and a lifetime ban from flying. This is not harsh, only necessary for the sanity of other travelers. Some Airlines have outright bans on children. Applause. These disruptive families can just drive or take a train or a bus.

Double Booking or Over-bookingThis is standard practice for the airlines. Normally it is not much of an issue, but occasionally people have been forcibly removed from a commercial flight, dragged bleeding and partially conscious so that airline employees can occupy your seat and not be late for a meeting. Fly United, the FRIENDLY Airline. United now will pay passengers up to $10,000 to give up their seats, which is undoubtedly about ONE-THOUSAND times less than they are paying Dr. Dao in the settled lawsuit.

EatingOh My Fucking Goat. The human body can survive for at least 30 days without eating. A person can go at least 3 days without hydration. This is, unless, you are flying on a commercial airline, and then it is less than 20 minutes. Humans who are flying must have snacks and bottled water from the News Stand to carry on board, and more snacks and drinks available in mid-flight. On my flight to Memphis from Denver, the 300 lb. father to the right of my aisle seat and his 400 lb. wife were gavaging their 100 lb. cherub from a McDonald’s sack. Of course, the precious one hurled when we hit the first air-pocket. Fortunately the fat daddy’s girth shielded me from the spew. Flying is a joy, trust me, especially when you are sitting next to someone like this.

too fat to fly

FamilyWe have all seen them at the airport. The parents are Large and in charge, and with an attitude to match. They are usually 4 or 5 kids strong, and proudly display one of their hell-spawn who is crippled, mentally retarded, physically challenged or otherwise deformed and drooling because of the Will of God. This burden is embraced by them and is expected to be our burden as well. The mother is always heavily pregnant.

Armed with strollers, special wheelchairs, backpacks, toys, and other instruments of destruction, this horde of horror has enough food and personal provisions to supply an invading army. The Family expects everyone to recognize their privilege and numbers, and spread out to occupy half the waiting area at the gate. They will board first. This Family will delay and inconvenience everyone else and expect us to understand. They are family and we loathe them.

GateThe definition of a Gate (Your departure Gate) is the point in an airport that is furthest from your starting position in any Airport. Most airports (except Memphis) have moving sidewalks to help fat-bodies get to their gate without requiring 911. The elderly and infirmed are often transported in oversized golf carts. The rest of us just walk. Denver’s (D.I.A.) longest walkable concourse is Concourse B and is 3,300 ft. long. Atlanta, as always, wins the grand prize with a walk of over 10,660 ft. (over 2 miles) from the Domestic Concourse to the International Terminal Gates. Don’t be fat and wear comfortable shoes.

Manchester England airport

Hare Krishnas at AirportsThis phenomena fortunately is in the nostalgia file. The last of these annoying creeps were punched, pummeled, karate-chopped and thrown out of airports by Robert Stack 37 years ago. These nutcases are still around, but have been assimilated seamlessly into the fabric of American society, so we rarely hear of them anymore. Regardless, these are not the White Hippies that we used to see routinely at airports and National Parks, with their flowing robes, bad haircuts and books to give for a donation. I really kinda miss trolling them.

In Flight Safety Instructions This is one of the most comical, useless and annoying rituals ever, only eclipsed by the Sign up for Frontier’s MasterCard and receive 40,000 free miles pitch (Yes, I have one). That is, unless you are flying with Sully Sullenberger, then you damn well had better pay attention. I have yet to ever use my bottom cushion as a flotation device. See: Technical Standard Order TSO-C72c: Compression through extended service use, perspiration and periodic cleaning must not reduce the buoyancy characteristics of these devices below the minimum level prescribed in this standard. That is a load off my mind, for sure.

Jet LagMore debilitating than a blow-binge hangover, jet-lag is a very real phenomena. Like the elusive cure for hangovers, there are many suggestions for ameliorating this mind and body crippling annoyance, but few actual effective remedies. Suggestions include avoiding caffeine, exercise, special glasses and prayer. Like with a hangover, nothing really works but time.

Kippie BagsThese are the One-Quart, clear ziplock bags that the T.S.A. requires air travelers to keep their allowed 3 oz. of liquids and gels contained within. They are named after T.S.A. director Kip Hawley. Some of the weirdest things that T.S.A. agents have found in carry on bags include: A human head, cooked oatmeal, live snakes, an animal spine with flesh still attached (for a voodoo ritual) and a bag of human poop.

Yes, Orville and Wilbur weep.

LayoverAn inevitable fact of line at an airport, and they can last for hours or days in the case of extreme weather events or a terrorist attack. On a moments notice Airport Terminals can be transformed into the equivalent of a Refugee Camp. Harried travelers scramble for the best spots, usually one with an electrical outlet so they can be at one with their precious i-devices. Layovers don’t have to be drudgery. The best way to keep your cool and sanity is just to make the best of it.

For example, if you are stuck in Logan Airport, you can just hop on the subway and be in downtown Boston in less than 20 minutes. Grab a bite and a drink, relax, and hop back on in plenty of time for your flight. Don’t fight the layover, make it work in your favor. Your sanity will thank you for it.

 

MortalityIn spite of much fear and trepidation about flying, the chance of dying in a plane crash is a very acceptable 1: 11,000,000. That’s One in Eleven Million. Compare this to your odds of dying in an automobile crash of 1: 5,000. Flight insurance is still legal, but the in airport kiosks are gone ever since John G. Graham bought flight insurance for his mother at D.I.A., and also sent her off with a suitcase full of dynamite, killing 44 people. Not good. Like I said, you can still purchase it, but the pot odds are not very good, and like with any life insurance, if you win, you lose (you’re dead).

Spend that money on a couple of drinks at the airport instead. More common and more practical is travel insurance that covers delays and unexpected cancellation. As far as mortality insurance, if you spent $1 and got less than 11 Million on coverage, you would be behind the odds. Its not going to happen.

Non-Stop FlightNon-stop flights are a much desired, but seldom obtained perk when you are flying. Luckily for me, there is a regular Frontier Airlines non-stop from Denver to Memphis. Usually prices, timing and logistics drive most air travelers through Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Charlotte N.C., and of course, Atlanta. Long layovers and changing planes only add to the stress and annoyance, but the travel monkey must be fed, so just get used to it. Layovers have an unexpected benefit because the tighter your connection the higher the likelihood that your luggage will not be flying with you.

Overhead BinsBack in the day you could store anything from a 454 Chevy big-block engine to a live elephant in the overhead bins if it would fit. Now there are strict guidelines as to the size and weight of these virtual steamer trunks jammed to bursting with God Knows What. The frantic push for everyone to cram their precious cargo into a limited space is like the road-rage equivalent of airline luggage Tetris. Guidelines and consideration for the physical well-being of fellow passengers below are ignored as frantic travelers jostle each other for space not unlike a Roller Derby match or door-busting on Black Friday.

Port-A-Potty On Board- If you are a man, standing up and trying to piss in a lurching 737 Aircraft is as challenging as staying on the Balance Beam after trying to execute a backward-handspring-double-back-flip combination. Just swallow your manliness, sit down and aim the Old Champ plumb to the earth. If you’re tall, it is just worse. There is always an endless stream of humanity going to the Airplane John.

Why people don’t go NPO for hours before a flight (I certainly do) is just plain stupid. Regardless, if you are relegated to an aisle seat like I am with my bad knees, you will have a parade of humans with itchy bladders (or worse) tripping over you. Oh, and both people next to you will have to go too. Count on it. There is also speculation of all sorts of atrocities taking place in this space that is smaller than a coffin.

QueueA queue is merely a line to wait in and you are at the very end. Most of this can be avoided (except at the T.S.A. security line) by planning ahead and not having to check your luggage. There is no relief from the T.S.A. queue which can resemble a line for toilet paper and offal in Eastern Europe during the height of the Cold War. Unless you have your own private jet and crew, you will wait in line at the airport. Yes, we are just cattle.

Racial Profiling at AirportsAnyone and everyone can be subject to extra scrutiny at the airport. Why the young male T.S.A. agent needed to pat my crotch to check out the metal in my knees, I can only conjecture (I didn’t mind), but check your privacy, human dignity and human rights at the entrance of any airport. If you are White Bread like me, you will probably be left relatively undefiled, but the darker and more Middle-Eastern you look, the more likely you are to receive special attention. Like it or loathe it, the results speak for themselves. Airline hijacking has become virtually non-existent in The United States, but at a tremendous forfeiture of human liberties.

Service DogsOnce upon a time, dogs were pets. They were relegated to the outdoors, ate dog food, and lived in dog houses. In 2017 dogs no longer have such a mundane resume. Now, we have Service Dogs. Along with the obligatory bar of Xanax, every person who has ever fretted about their existence can now have a Service Dog…and these dogs can go EVERYWHERE, especially on airplanes. I have to give credit where credit is due, as these dogs are generally much better behaved than their human counterparts. On my right was a puking kid. To my left, across the aisle was a Chihuahua in a duffel bag, sitting on its owners lap. We both stared at each other in disbelief. Where is this going? See the image below. Cleanup on the middle aisle…STAT.

T.S.A. (The Transportation Security Administration)- Using any yardstick, the T.S.A. has been an unmitigated debacle since its inception. Pre-Check continues to be an unworkable disaster as in 2014 the T.S.A. requested bids from private companies to formulate risk scoring algorithms using commercial data, including social media and purchase information. That’s right, FACEBOOK and Twitter. What could possibly go wrong? The T.S.A has been more damaging to personal liberty than an outright repeal of The Bill of Rights. Allah Akbar, but even the Big Man himself will have to wait in line to take off his sandals.

Uber (or Lyft)I used Lyft the last time I was in Memphis for a pleasant drive from Bartlett to the Airport. The driver was prompt, friendly, courteous and the drive to the airport was like traveling with an old friend. We discussed everything from finance to what was the best cure for a raging hangover. Lyft is the new ride and I’ll never take a stinky cab again. Just download the app to your phone, sign up and you are ready to order your ride.

Vegas This is the place that you can always find some sort of great flight package at a discount price. They want you there for obvious reasons. Have a good time, stuff your face, and don’t spend more than you can afford to lose. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, and it’s usually your pride and your money.

Wind shear and Turbulence-Since you are now feeling safe and comfortable after reading the 1 in ELEVEN MILLION odds of being killed in an airline mishap, there are still reasons for concern. Pilot error and mechanical problems are the top causes of airplane crashes, but weather is the next on the list. Wind shear is a pilot’s nightmare, (see pilot error) and occurs usually during violent thunderstorms where there is a strong downdraft. The strong headwind rapidly disappears, and is replaced with a strong tailwind,which virtually pushes the plane to the ground. S.O.P. is for pilots to avoid thunderstorms, but with the rapidly changing dynamics of the atmosphere, this is not always possible. If you have flown at all, you have been tossed around in a thunderstorm and it is not fun. This is yet another reason to not stuff your face while flying.

X-rays and other Screening Machines After the T.S.A. sheepishly discovered that the suspiciously huge bulge in the pants of Jonah Falcon to be merely his 9 inch flacid (13.5 erect) penis, they decided to upgrade their scanning devices. In spite of being a “no-brainer” for the porn industry; I mean, who needs a brain when they are packing that kind of WMD? Jonah was unemployed and living with his mother at the time of this article. In spite of wearing shorts when I can, and telling the T.S.A. agents about the metal in my knees, I still get patted down every time I go through security. I guess they think I’m cute.

Yammering There is always someone that you wish had brought a book or had their headphones in playing Angry Birds, Hearthstone, or whatever (I Googled this because I haven’t a clue as to what a popular game is nowadays). These people are usually older and never shut up. The exception was my last trip where this ditzy young adult girl bounced up to my row and declared “I guess we are going to be friends!”

I recoiled in fear and anticipation of what sort of a loose screw she would be. Fortunately, her SO showed up and provided a buffer zone as she had the window seat. I tried to immerse myself in a paperback that I always bring for just this reason, but people like this will not be denied. Yes, she is going to Seattle. She is into permaculture and anything GMO or non-organic is evil. She is, of course, a vegan which was the most terrifying revelation as these people never, ever, shut up about it. I survived somehow.

ZoneAirplanes are boarded by zones, typically 1-3. In a perfect and logical world you would think that the boarding agents would load the airplane from back to front, zone 3 being in the rear of the aircraft. This is not how to do it. I have no idea why they do this other than just to annoy us. Happy Flying from Ruthless Reviews.

About Goat

Goat is Retired. He does come out occasionally to help Erich and to write Christmas Reviews.