In all my short years of flying, two things happened to me this past weekend that were firsts. One: After pulling away from the jetway to begin its taxi, the plane I was on experienced an engine problem and had to return to the terminal for maintenance. Two: After just a few minutes of flight the plane I was on leveled off, slowed its speed, and then the captain announced he was experiencing a problem and had to return to the airport. Leave it up to good ole US Air to leave me breathless.
The funny thing is that these were two different flights, two different planes. The problems turned out to be minor but the lost time was a major inconvenience. From the time we arrived at the airport to the time we walked in the front door, Tracey and I spent over nine hours getting home Monday evening. I can say without a doubt that was the worst day ever of flying for me.
If writing this post, Tracey would also note the roller coaster ride on Saturday. We flew into St. Louis which was on the north side of the bad weather that swept through Arkansas. I thought the pilot, with limited visibility and strong gusty winds, did a great job of controlling the plane. Heck, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a softer landing (this was a United flight). However, Tracey wasn’t enamored with my positive support. She says she may never fly again.
With air travel today, as long as you realize that you aren’t in control you’ll do ok. And that’s what it has really come down to, just ask those folks who fly JetBlue. You can’t avoid lines. You can’t avoid the 12oz beer for $10. You certainly can’t expect to be left alone by security, even if you are Michael Vick. Humans and machines break down. The airlines dictate the schedule. The weather is the one big variable that never can be counted on.
Everybody seems to have that airline that never works for them. Mine is US Air. I rarely have a good experience. Delta is by far the best from my viewpoint. But I think I’ve been lucky. Every time I fly Delta I always hear someone complaining that Delta is their worst. Buying a ticket to fly today is like playing darts. You think there’s skill involved but the variables always dictate whether or not you hit the bullseye.
The one good thing that has come out of flying for me is reading. I used to not read at all. When I found myself flying 50,000 miles every six months I picked up books. I have read tons of great books since and I have air travel to thank. If I hadn’t gotten stuck on the ground, in the air, next to an extremely large person, in front of the stale vodka guy, behind the nose picking toddler, in the rear by the lavatory, circling the airport in the fog, tossing around the cabin on approach to La Guardia, waiting for my cell phone to charge, getting my shoes shined, and avoiding anyone who wears the colors of a team that beat Auburn over the previous season I wouldn’t have been motivated to read.
So hears to you Mr. doesn’t shut the baggage door tightly ground crewman, and all your friends. I raise my glass to celebrate the joys you’ve given me and the knowledge I’ve gained.