Fly (or: Why I Don’t)

This past weekend I was treated to a whirlwind visit to the Phoenix (Arizona) area. I took two vacation days, Thursday and Friday, and was home by Saturday night.

Just three weeks ago I drove to Phoenix, and loved every minute of it.

This weekend — while fun — reminded me why it’s been five years since my last flight aboard a commercial airline.

My flight out of St. Louis was scheduled for 6:25 AM. I’ve been told that with the TSA checkpoints and inspections, I should arrive at least two hours before flight time. Now, anybody who knows me knows I am just a teeny, tiny bit OCD about being late, so I dutifully got to the airport at 4:10 AM… only to find that TSA doesn’t open until 4:30. Oh well, I have camera, I have Kindle, I have time. I even found a place where I bought a bagel, of which I ate half and tucked away the rest to snack on later.

At 6:10, I’m cued to board the first leg of my flight, St. Louis to Chicago-Midway with a transfer out of Midway at 8:30, when I get a text message from the carrier that the Midway flight is delayed until 1:05 PM. It’s delayed? At 6:10 in the morning? There’s not much I can do but get on the plane to Chicago.

When we landed in Chicago, I immediately went to the counter and asked the agent, Ms Diana Castro, if it was true that my flight to Phoenix was delayed until 1:05 PM. It is, she replied, and I asked if the company was going to buy me lunch or free wi-fi to keep me amused for five hours … ‘cuz I really, really would go stir crazy waiting. Ms Castro was great, she got me on the next flight out, Chicago to Las Vegas, connecting to Phoenix, leaving … oh, now.

At least I would be in the air, heading vaguely in the direction I needed to go.

The plane to Las Vegas was full. I sat next to two grandmothers who were travelling with several members of their Southside (Chicago) family to celebrate a granddaughter’s twenty-first birthday.

Must be nice.

Las Vegas! I had twenty minutes between flights, just enough time to find a ladies’ room and the gate. Airborne again, and I can eat the other half of that 6 AM bagel.

I arrived at my destination around 1:30. I’m already tired and dehydrated, and a little grumpy. I realize at that time why flying has lost its allure for me: It’s not fun. My time is not my own, and I have become very used to being my own mistress.

My thanks to Ms Castro for keeping me moving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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