Friday, July 20, 2018

Hurry Up and Wait…Air Travel Summarized

Why is air travel exhausting, time-consuming, tiring, unfun, bone-wearying?


Or is it just me?


The Philadelphia Airport terminal traversed this afternoon is brightly lit, spacious, not teeming with crowds, yet still the experience can be summed up in a word, OK two words: a hassle.


Enter the terminal and signs direct travelers to a kiosk to check in and print boarding passes and luggage tags. If traveling with no luggage, check in can be done easily at home on the comfort of your couch. With luggage or facing other obstacles - overseas travel, for instance - airport check-in is a must.


Kiosk check-in proceeds smoothly. A customer service agent (big, strong with huge arm muscles) wanders over to assist with our bags. He must have noted our senior citizenship and, although we could wheel our bags to the drop off zone, took pity on our slightly bent bodies. 


Onward to security.


Hurry up and wait…We qualify for TSA pre-check allowing us to get on a special - short - security line, but sometimes we don’t. Like today. For some unknown reason our status never made it onto our boarding passes, so the TSA pre-check armed guard rejected us. We could have returned to the Alaska Air counter and corrected the oversight, but it was a long walk. The security line for others - non-TSA pre-check folks - did not look bad, so we got on the back of the line. And it did move along.


Until it didn’t.


My grandson joins hub and I on this latest adventure. His backpack went through the security machine twice before being pulled aside. He and I watched as an agent rooted around inside and took out a couple of items including a water bottle. With water in it.


A really, really major no-no.


So the two of us were escorted out of the security area into the great abyss of the not-yet-secured. We emptied the bottle in a potted plant. The TSA agent was nice enough to let us back into the security area without waiting on line - which had grown substantially since our initial wait.


Once again we took off shoes and walked through the people-monitor. And I was patted down a second time. No belts, no metal, but my body sparks something in the machine that says - hey, pat down the old lady! This is going to be good


Retrieving our bags we follow signs to our gate. Now hungry and past lunchtime, there is still time for a meal before boarding. 


Walking at a rapid pace to get somewhere - the security line, the gate, the restroom, waiting in all these places, standing in lines, walking again, a bit slower each time, waiting on lines that never recede, our Alaska adventure begins.


Almost.


We board the plane and settle into seats more comfortable than our usual Spirit Air accommodations. The plane backs out of the gate and begins taxiing.


And stops.


The captain announces there are a lot of planes ahead of us. Get comfortable, relax, we will be leaving soon he says. 


The plane finally takes off. 


We sat on the plane about an hour as it loaded passengers, taxied, then waited for take-off.


Our Alaska adventure begins.