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So, as I mentioned last week, I was out of town.  I’m back.  And how did I get back?  I flew.  Well, not with wings or anything but on a domestic airline flight.  The flight from Chicago to Los Angeles or vice versa is about four hours.

My flight TO Los Angeles was fully packed, cramped and well, quite uncomfortable.  I felt like a contortionist trying to fit into the seat. After two days, I was actually able to regain feeling in my feet.

On the other hand, my flight to Chicago was quite comfortable.  I thought it might pass the time if I kept a running journal of the flight and it actually worked out so good, I thought I’d share.

Here’s my story:

The shuttle to LAX was WAY early, so I re-listed on the 6 AM flight to ORD.  Why do they abbreviate airports with three character cryptic codes?   LAX for Los Angeles makes some sense, ORD for Chicago, not so much.  At least I am not flying to Sioux City, Iowa or as they call it SUX.

5:55  I was fortunate enough to get a seat on the exit aisle with actual leg room.  Before we take off, a flight attendant informs me that I am seated in the exit aisle and asks if I am ready, willing, and able to assist should an emergency occur.

I assure her that if I can have this seat, I will also hand wash her uniform and spit dry her shoes.  Please please don’t make me move to the Houdini seats. She doesn’t smile but asks my row mate the same question.

6:20  Crackle sound, “Uh this is your captain speaking. (Whew for a moment there, I thought we flew too high and it was God.)  Welcome aboard our flight to Chicago where the temperature is five below zero Celsius. ”

OK, I get it.  Not only are you the ‘way too cool guy’ who can fly an airplane, but you also know the temperature on a scale that nobody else in America refers to.

6:30   In flight entertainment varies these days.  On some flights, you get a free movie.  On some, you get nothing, but they still put the headphones in the pocket in front of you just to tease you.  On this one, there are individual video screens right in front of you running live shows that STOP the instant you are in the air.

Then, here comes the plug.  For $6.99, you can watch anything you want.  I just paid $450.00 for this flight, I get no nuts, no pretzels, no meal and now you want seven bucks to watch TV?   I pass.

6:45  The video screen runs the same ads over and over again.  Something with Kevin Bacon, and by golly tart cherry juice can apparently raise the dead.  I pass again.

7:00  The meal guy brings the cart down the aisle.  I was hungry and looked at the options.  A hard boiled egg, 10 grapes and a wedge of cheese.  The only meat apparent is the Bacon on the screen in front of me.  They want $6.99 for this too.  I pass.

7:30  The beverage cart comes now.  I consider a beer, but that costs … yep you guessed it, $6.99.   I opt for a ginger ale.   For the price of 2 beers, I can buy a whole case back home.  The flight attendant also informs me there is no tart cherry juice on the cart.

7:45  The seat belt light has been off for an hour or so and while we were free to move about the cabin, only a few people dare.  I am about to answer nature’s call in the 3 foot by 5 foot lavatory when a ding comes and Captain Celsius tells us, “We’ve hit a bit of turbulence, so fasten your seat belts.”

OK, not only do I have to hold it in, I get to shake around for a while too with my belt fastened tightly around my waist. At least I have leg room.  Eventually, I am free to move about the cabin and free to relieve my bladder.

8:00  There are two business clones in the aisle across from me wearing garish suits who have been looking a their computers for two hours solid and mutually nodding.  One gets up to use the facilities.  The other follows.  Odd.

8:25  Apparently Kevin Bacon plays the roles of Ryan Hardy.  After 27 times through the spool I have gathered that.  I briefly consider dropping $6.99 just to make the preview stop.  I pass.

9:00  I check out the In Flight magazine and find a boarding pass from Hawaii ( or HNL if you prefer) to LAX.  I also find 3 Ohio lottery tickets already scratched. I check.  None are winners.

9:35  The announcement comes from Captain Celsius, “We are making our arrival to Chicago.   Flight attendants, prepare the cabin for arrival.”

At this announcement, all the flight attendants do nothing and just sit down.  The wing flaps start making this noise that you hope is a noise they are supposed to be making and you think,  “Hey, flight attendants!  Did you check that right wing before you sat down? It’s shaking like crazy and making noises like when the brakes went out on my car.  Are you prepared for landing!?”

9:45  Safe landing.  A well-prepared flight attendant announces, “Welcome to Chicago where the temperature is 23 degrees.” ( I assume we are back in good old Fahrenheit land.)

“Please stay seated until the aircraft comes to a complete stop.”  (Nobody does.)

“Contents in the overhead bins may have shifted during flight.”  (The contents of my stomach did indeed shift during that landing, so likely there was some shift in the bins.  However, there was not much in my stomach because I didn’t spend $6.99.  Whereas the overhead bins are stuffed tighter than a 15 pound turkey with 8 pounds of stuffing on Thanksgiving Day.  Likely, nothing shifted there either.)

9:55  Home sweet home.  I exit the plane and the airport wearing just a sweater and realize, damn, it’s January in Chicago.  Celsius or Fahrenheit, it’s cold.

But maybe this has happened to you?  Share your story if you dare.

FOOTNOTE:  I defer to the original artist, John Denver.  Fuzzy video but great song

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