This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Skies Are Limited

Once upon a time, I enjoyed flying. Once upon a time, I flirted with the idea of becoming a pilot or even a flight attendant-- anything that could bring me the allure of those open skies above the Earth.

Flying was a unique experience. There were times when I was more enthused about getting on the airplane than I was about my final destination. I enjoyed pulling down my overhead tray when I saw the flight attendants beginning their descent down the aisle. I enjoyed observing how quickly and fanatically my fellow passengers and I would unwrap our silverware so we could pick at unidentifiable airline food. We ate it-- yet never failed to complain about how detestable the food was, still again.

I endured a series of flights on recent travels to visit my family. I dutifully removed my shoes and reminded myself how much I hate terrorists not only for all the obvious reasons, but also for how they ruined my love of flying. My sense of "flying adventure" has been compromised ever since. First, it was the shoes. Then it was the gels and liquid fiasco which infuriated me most two years ago when a TSA employee searched all my baggage and confiscated a jar of apple butter. I've written about that before. I'm also happiest when I'm fully hydrated, but carrying a bottle of water through security has become something of the past as well.

Every flight is full. The honey-roasted peanuts are a distant memory. After take-off flight attendants are nowhere to be found. Checked baggage costs more. Overhead bins are bulging which irritates those of us, like me, who always travel light and never check a bag. Throughout my flights yesterday, I was forced to check my carry-on at the jetway; they were out of room. I cannot remember the last time I'd ever had to visit baggage claim. It was something I took pride in avoiding. I wasn't exactly looking forward to revisiting that experience-- especially against my will.

During those flights yesterday, not once, did my overhead tray leave its upright position. It irritated me every time they announced that "beverages were available for purchase." I was okay with no food, but no beverage? Come on. A gentleman behind me asked for a "courtesy cup" of water. I turned around with interest to see if his wish was granted.

I wondered, "Is there courtesy left in the formerly friendly skies?"

He was denied. Although, we discovered, ice is still free [for the time being.] I laughed when that same gentleman and his companion toasted their free cups of ice and held them up to their reading lights in hopes of creating water for themselves...eventually.

Without a complimentary beverage to look forward to, I was forced to watch an in-flight movie about all the other things available for purchase in the cabin and in the Sky Mall catalog. I was forced to learn how I could get an airline-endorsed credit card in which I could earn points for all these worthless purchases. That video, by the way, lasted significantly longer than the safety video and was much harder to tune out-- not that I ever tune out the safety video.

These days, I pay attention more than ever. I don't trust the airlines anymore. I secretly wish that the seat that doubles as a flotation device also contained a parachute-- not for emergencies per se, but in case I choose to escape from the suffocating experience of flying that I used to enjoy, once upon a time.

Has the complimentary ice melted yet?

*The author has had a bad experience on nearly every major U.S. airline carrier. She wishes that Air New Zealand flew domestically and hopes that seat cushion parachutes are in the future.*

Photo credit: Darren Hester/flickr
Copyright © 2008 KLiedle

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