Sunday, July 3, 2011

Flying in the U.S. of A.

A. travelled to St. Louis last weekend to babysit for our friend RB and on the weekends she’ll get to see her bestie. Her flight was at 7am so we headed to the airport at 5am and I realize now I looked like a homeless person with my hair in a messy bun, sweatpants and flip flops and a t-shirt that I’d slept in that was a subscriber’s gift from Entertainment Weekly that says “I love Jake Ryan” with a picture of the guy from Sixteen Candles. But literally I thought this would be a walk her in, make sure she gets checked in okay and then walk out, 10 minutes tops. Well, the state of U.S. airports and airlines made this trip a bit different. They’d cancelled her flight for who knows what reason and were going to book her on an 11am flight until I asked the only airline employee around, a woman at the platinum counter (which pissed off the actual platinum customers) and they re-routed her to another airline on a 7:15am flight.

The line to the other airline was super long and now that you have to pay for checked baggage, it looks like for this airline at least, the only self-check terminals were for carry-on only. It was very stressful for everyone involved and I found myself at the airport for over an hour getting her sorted. Oh, and the airport was SUPER BUSY. I expect that on a Sunday afternoon but I was surprised at 6am.

I consider myself a seasoned traveler and even I was confused about where to be for this flight check-in. The use of self check-in sometimes means there is just one person at an airline’s counter to handle everything else which makes things highly inefficient. Couple that with the non-seasoned travelers and in the case of Sunday morning non-English speakers and it’s a recipe for disaster. When one of the airline staff came out in the crowd to ask if anyone had a boarding pass already and I got her attention to just ask her if we were in the right line because we’d been re-routed from another airline she literally just walked away from me without even acknowledging that I was talking to her. In the middle of this stressful experience, this woman, looked like a business traveler around my age tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I love your shirt” with such sincerity. I could picture her as a teenager, swooning over Jake, LOL.

So while A is now in St. Louis safe and sound and having a grand time, I REALLY feel for my business travelling friends more than ever. It’s a jungle out there. Pack your noise-cancelling headphones and some meditation music because I think you probably need it once you board the plane.

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