Saturday, July 30, 2011

Airline Travel Today

I have always loved flying. I even hold a Private Pilot's license. There is something magical about speeding along the runway in a huge metal tube and feeling the lift as the wheels leave the runway. Then up and over the clouds to bright blue sunny skies no matter what it is doing on the ground! It is hard to believe that all that weight and mass can lift off the ground and carry us speedily along to another destination hundreds of miles away within hours.

I love looking down on the beautiful white clouds and the patchwork of fields down below as we cruise miles above the earth. Flying used to be a lot easier years ago, before we had to worry about terrorists and crazies being aboard, and before the airlines made the seats smaller and closer so that they could cram more people aboard and make more money per flight. Now you can carry small bag aboard and one "personal" item, but they charge $25 or $35 each for your checked bags. They have done this in order to show the cost for flying lower than it actually is. For instance, your flight to Miami from Atlanta may show up at $158 round trip, but if you check just one bag that will increase your cost to $208. And, God forbid, if you check two your cost will be $258!

You no longer get free meals aboard your flight. The other day I paid $2.50 for ONE chocolate chip cookie. It was a very good and large cookie, but $2.50? My goodness!
You do still get a free beverage as long as it doesn't contain alcohol. I had to laugh though at the "peanuts" we got...1/4 ounce! One mouthful of peanuts. That is just a tease. My biggest problem is with the short distance between the rows of seats. I have very long legs, and on a long flight my knees are crammed up against the back of the seat in front of me so tightly that I can hardly move. Very uncomfortable.

Going through security in some airports, Miami for example, can be quite tedious and difficult. Atlanta has a marvelous system however, and I have never had to wait more than a few minutes in spite of the fact that Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world. If you have an iPhone and I am sure other smart phones, you can download maps of each airport to make navigating them simpler. These "maps" show the locations of restaurants, bathrooms and other facilities. Nice!

Dressing to fly has definitely changed over the years. People who were traveling in the past used to be dressed like they were going to church. Nowadays, you might see anything from pajamas to business suits, from the highest of high heels to flip flops. I am kind of inclined to lean toward the flip flops since you have to shed your shoes to get through security. You must also remove jackets, sweaters, belts and watches, so I would advise putting those things in your carry on or Personal Bag (which can be a computer bag, large purse or canvas bag which must fit under the seat in front of you).

You must pack any of your liquids, which must be 3 ounces or less, in a one quart Zip lock bag to be placed in the bins going through security. So, put them in an area where you can easily access them, unless they are going in a checked bag...then you don't have to worry about it! I am finding that it is just easier to use the shampoo, conditioner and whatever that the hotels provide than carrying my own.

One thing that I do find irritating is that you can't carry a bottled water through security...even if it has NOT been opened! If you want water or food, you will have to buy it on the other side of security checkpoint where you will pay considerably more for it.

In spite of the fact that flying is a bit more inconvenient, security can be slow sometimes, and the seats are smaller, I still love flying. Traveling and seeing far away places is a wonderful, mind-expanding thing which I will never get tired of. I watch for sales on Cheap Tickets, Orbitz and Travelocity as well as others, and I will continue to travel as long as this old body will allow me to!

Get out there and explore your world, you won't be sorry you did.

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