The wild blue yonder

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So last week I was waxing nostalgic about airports of yesteryear. I think we’ll stay with the air travel theme. It’ll be fun looking at the delights of flying in 2015.  Like getting the flu.

So buckle up, take a Tums and get the vomit bag out – it’s probably going to be a bumpy ride.

After a long (for AGMA) spell of staying put, I’m heading back to the friendly skies again. Or maybe we should call them the “ambivalent, but you still won’t get pretzels or reclining seats” skies.

One of the most nerve wracking challenges air travelers face today is “roller board roulette”.  It’s when you gamble that there might actually be overhead bin space and bring a carry-on bag.

Sucker…

You say the Rosary before you do online check-in and pray that, when you print off your boarding pass, the magic words “Zone 1” appear. Zone 2 is just too iffy…

Honestly, the last thing you want to hear on the plane is, “You’re going to need to gate check your bag.”  I get chills even thinking about it.

This is never an issue when I fly with my husband. He has a degenerative neurological condition that is affecting his legs. It causes him to walk very slowly with a cane, and leaves him able only go short distances before he poops out.

Not good.

And getting to some gates at certain airports is like running a 5K. You need to stop a few times on the way to get nutrition, hydrate, take bathroom breaks and stretch. And oh, the stabbing pain if you’re loaded down with a heavy backpack and carry-on.

As a result, we always request wheelchair assistance to get him to and from our gates. This has been an adventure in and of itself.

But that’s another post for another day…

Because of his mobility issue, we’re always the first to board no matter what zone is on our boarding pass. It’s us and the people flying with small, screaming children, their strollers and their car seats. So…we always have space for our roller boards no matter how full the flight is.

This has spoiled me. It’s easy to get used to not having to wrestle the person sitting across the aisle for space in an overhead bin.

But when I fly alone, reality slaps me in the face like a hung over Kardashian.

No priority boarding for AGMA. I’m with the masses, waiting and jockeying for position at the gate. It’s like being in no man’s land. Everybody is suspiciously eyeing everybody else and their carry-ons. Feigning disinterest, but with a desperate, hungry look in their eyes, some try to sneak a glance at the zone on your boarding pass. They are the “overhead bin space” hunters and your roller board is the hunted.

The Huger Games meets the ambivalent skies.

I flew to Washington, D.C. several weeks ago on Delta. Being one of their Skymiles members AND having their credit card, I think I’m a pretty hot stuff on Delta. Too bad Delta doesn’t agree.

I checked my luggage on this trip, but had a very bulky backpack. I really, really didn’t want to have to smoosh it under my seat and not have room for my feet.  Total First World non-problem, I realize.

But birds chirped, violin music played and rainbow ponies filled the air when I saw my boarding pass.  The coveted, much envied and much desired Zone 1.  Score!

At the gate, the teaming masses undulated. A surge of pity went through me.  And although I knew I wouldn’t have to do battle to get space for my backpack, I realized the carnage that was about to befall most of the non-Zone 1 people who brought carry-ons. My heart ached for them…

The people pressed forward toward the gate when the agent announced priority boarding for people needing extra time to board. I did the smug sideways glance knowing that my Zone 1 status would soon separate me from the amorphous blob of testy, tired travelers.

Then the gate agent announced boarding for First Class, Diamond Medallion and Delta One customers. 30 people boarded. Of course they were next, but certainly Zone 1 would after them. Right?

Next, the gate agent announced Platinum Medallion, Gold Medallion and Delta Comfort customers. 35 people boarded. My stomach started to feel funny.

Skyteam Elite Plus, Silver Medallion and Priority Boarding Trip Extra customers were next. 20 more people. I started to sweat.

Then the GOL Smiles Diamond, Flying Blue Silver and Virgin Australia Platinum and Gold club members boarded. WTF???

At this point there were fifteen of us left at the gate. The gate agent finally announced Zone 1.

By the time I got in the plane, the First Class customers had had their cocktails and snack, and were asleep with their pillow and blankies. And everybody in economy coach smirked as I made that long walk down the aisle with all the closed bins, with my fat backpack.  I averted my eyes as I crawled over a Silver Medallion customer and GOL Smiles Diamond member to get to my seat.

I managed to squish my backpack under the seat. Then ate my slice of humble pie.

Thank you sir, may I have another.

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28 thoughts on “The wild blue yonder

  1. Love it! I can imagine your facing changing colour as they were calling passengers. And you thought you would be fine! But you did not read the fine prints…
    Don’t they do a magnificient job a market segmentation! Same with the credit cards. Are you saving points, fliying points, recovery points, exchangeable points? Do you want gold, black, platinum? Do you want a free annual fee, a minimal annual fee with points? A consumer market, they say?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My head hurts thinking about it all…. Honestly, who understands that stuff? My husband is a Silver Medallion member and I still have no idea what that means or how you get there or what perks you get. Probably no perks right? 🙂

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  2. I have to take a flight soon, but not on Delta. I am flying United and I am a bit worried. There CEO just had a heart attack. Just hope that wasn’t because of the stress of flying on one of their planes or the result of a fit of guilt after realizing what they do to the flying public.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Or trying to find overhead bin space….

      It seems like the airline industry has turned absolutely heartless since coming back after the down years after 9/11. They are raking in record profits, but continue to screw (pardon my language) their flight attendants and other staff who made concessions in their contracts when the industry was struggling. I heard a piece on NPR the other day about the “Legacy Carriers” (Delta, United and American) whining & filing a lawsuit against Middle Eastern airlines (Qatar, Emirates, Etihad) because their governments prop them up with lots of $$$. The CEO of Emirates was interviewed and said that, rather than complaining about the Middle Eastern airlines, the US airlines should be putting their profits back into improving the flight experience for their passengers and treating their employees better rather than making their executives richer. Oh snap! I loved it!

      You be fine on your United flight. I think… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved it. The whole process of thinking you are getting special treatment, then ending up getting one of the worst…story of my life most of the time. I had to sit with my bag under my seat for an eight hour flight recently…not pleasant at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh ouch!! Eight hours? That’s a long flight to have your legs sort of bunched up!

      So my new philosophy is to go in expecting the worst. That way, if the worst happens, I won’t be disappointed. But if things aren’t so bad, I’ll feel like I’m being treated like a queen! We’ll see how it goes…

      Liked by 1 person

    • True dat! But it really WAS easier back then I think. You didn’t have to strip or be x-rayed or be herded from one line to another. Or pay for your checked bag. Or try to squish ten 3 oz bottles in a quart sized bag. I’m TSA pre-check on most Delta flights (why, I have no idea…) but not on other airlines. I really like the less invasive nature of the pre-check line so I’m thinking of applying for pre-check status with the TSA so I can just skip the nonsense all the time. It’s $80 but it might be worth it!

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  4. It is no wonder the apparel one wears when flying these days differs from those ‘back when’ flights. Remember? High heels, gloves, dresses, hose, and then those coats and ties for the gents. Of course, those planes only held 40 people and you could touch your luggage if you sat in the back row. Hard to look your best when the baby next to you is protesting loudly about his teething, the teenager on the other side clutches the airsick bag, the guy in front drops his seat back just as you place your coffee cup on the tray and the pilot is suggesting the turbulence will last some 3 more hours. Hang on tight and enjoy your flight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love it!! You have captured modern day flying to a T!! I brought my laptop a few flights ago and tried to blog with it, but there was no place for my arms to go and the laptop (a small Mac book) didn’t really fit on the tiny tray table and I kept poking the person next to me with my elbows. I just gave up!

      Is it just me or does there seem to be more turbulence now a days? I guess maybe climate change? Or am I just crazy?

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  5. That’s a funny story, sorry I am laughing at your heartache. However, life sometimes has a not-pleasant way of bringing us back to earth. I hope you were not too overt in your smirking when you thought you were one of the special ones by being in zone 1. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I liked your story although I have never flown my husband did recently. Sorry to hear you didnt have the safety net you imagined. It just goes to show how things change by the second. But honestly I felt bad for your discomfort heres hoping your flight was not to uncomfortable. By the way I love to read your stories.

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    • I wonder how many calories a piece of humble pie has because I certainly have eaten my share in my life! It’s the US airlines just trying to squeeze every penny possible out of their customers while taking away comfort. The seats keep getting narrower, the leg room more cramped, most airlines don’t give any little snacks anymore, they charge to check bags and they reserve all of the perks for the business travelers on expense accounts. I fly because it’s the quickest way from here to there, but I don’t look forward to the experience! Be glad you live in a kinder, gentler flying country!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes I wish it wasn’t my thing! There is something to be said for staying put and not gallivanting around. It costs $$ and is uncomfortable and has a certain element of danger (weather, mechanical issues, crazy shoe bombers, etc…) But I’m a travelin’ kinda gal and can’t help myself! Is there a diagnosis for that?

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  7. People putting stuff in the overhead bins that are not over their rows has always ticked me off. About 30 years ago, my husband, daughter and I were flying to visit my son in college. We were among the early ones being seated (those were the good ole days, for sure), when we (actually I) saw a bag in OUR bin. I announced, “Whose shit is this?” A rather small man in the next row, quickly got up, pulled his bag out and put it in his bin. My daughter was horrified that I said that. My husband secretly delighted in my actions (mouth). Now if I said something like that, there would be a free for all and someone would get hurt. Me, in all likelihood.

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    • You are soooo right! A brawl would have broken out for sure! People are just so cranky these days when they fly. You never know when somebody will snap…

      But honestly, why would you want to put your stuff in a bin that isn’t “your” bin?? The only time I’ve ever done that is when “my” bins are full. It’s so easy for that to happen now a days when you have three people in a row sharing one small bin (that was only meant for two people to share.)

      Being an airline passenger these days is almost a profession. Every flight it like OJT and God help the rookie! It’s a dog eat dog world out there on the tarmac!

      Like

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