I’m writing this blog at 32,000 feet flying back to California. I’m reflecting on the crazy “flying experience” us travelers have to endure. It starts with checking in our luggage. I heard of one guy going up to the counter with his check-in luggage. He said to the lady at the counter “I would like you to send this to New York then down to Florida then across to Texas and end it up in Atlanta.” Startled the lady responded. “Sorry sir, we don’t do that.” “Well,” responded the traveler “you did it last week. I don’t know why you can’t do it again.”
The stories we have of lost, delayed and broken luggage would make an excellent novel. It seemed like things would improve when they introduced sophisticated tracking technology. A few months ago my daughter headed to Tampa, Florida for a much needed vacation after taking the California Bar Exam to practice in the state. All her toiletries, make-up and clothing were in the hold and, upon arrival, she was told her bag was in another city. She was given a special tracking code to now track the arrival and delivery of the bag. Well her and I now began the exciting “where is Waldo’s bag” search by following the lost luggage on the computer.
We were very happy to discover that the bag had arrived in Tampa early that following morning and that Cedric was the assigned delivery driver leaving Tampa in a blue Nissan at 8:30am with the missing bag on board. We eagerly tracked the little blinking dot on the GPS map for two hours only to see Cedric’s car return back to Tampa’s airport. It was now almost noon and my daughter’s hosts were begging to start heading to the beach. With no beach clothes or swimsuit, my daughter remained miserable at the beach house dutifully trusting the technology and trying to reach every luggage agent she could get through to. Suddenly Elaine was the new driver in a silver PT Cruiser and the dot on the screen started blinking again but just seemed to be going nowhere. By 4pm the driver changed again to Nora in a black Corolla.
By this stage all my daughter’s three years of law school knowledge, combined with fiery frustration, was being systematically meted out on every airline and luggage agent that dared to physically answer a phone up and down the East Coast. Nora’s dot now seemed to travel in a tortuously slow path through every single neighborhood in Tampa. When it finally arrived after 10pm that night at the beach house, we discovered that Cedric’s car was having engine trouble and returned to base, Elaine bit off more than she could chew and could not fit all the luggage assigned to her into her vehicle. Of course my daughter’s bag was a casualty and got left behind and had to be reassigned. Finally Nora decided to deliver her bag last. Had she arrived at the beach house a few minutes later, she would have missed delivering it by the 11pm curfew and would have had to take it back to Tampa airport to start the process again the following day. What we discovered was that the technology had not really helped improve the service but simply prolonged the agony and exposed the absolute incompetency of both the airline and the luggage delivery system.
Well back to my flight. I’m gazing up through a thinly veiled curtain at the “comfortable” people eating their warm nuts in first class. No matter how many miles I fly I never seem to make that elite group. Over to my right is a large lady with a young baby. They are both sleeping now, completely trapping in the other two people in the row. Most airline seats are not designed for large people never mind a baby, a huge diaper bag, handbag, blanket and snacks.
Even if one of those trapped was desperate to use the restroom, I doubt if any of them would risk damaging the sleeping status quo. The scenario reminds me of the following airline story which I will close with:
A little guy gets on a plane and sits next to the window.
A few minutes later, a big, heavy, strong mean-looking, hulking guy plops
down in the seat next to him and immediately falls asleep.
The little guy starts to feel a little airsick, but he’s afraid to wake
the big guy up to ask if he can go to the bathroom. He knows he can’t
climb over him, and so the little guy is sitting there, looking at the big
guy, trying to decide what to do.
Suddenly, the plane hits an air pocket and an uncontrollable wave of
nausea passes through the little guy. He can’t hold it in any longer and
he pukes all over the big guy’s chest.
About five minutes later the big guy wakes up, looks down, and sees the
vomit all over him.
“So,” says the little guy, “are you feeling better now?”