Saturday, May 16, 2009

Project 365: Day 135 -- Air Travel Sucks!

Today is the big day--we're on our way to Ireland! But getting there is definitely NOT part of the fun. Especially since 9-11-2001, air travel has been akin to a trip to hell. There's lots of waiting in lines--wait in line to check your luggage, wait in line to get through security, wait in line to enter the jetway, wait in line to board the plane, wait in line to get in your seat, wait in line to get off the plane, wait in line to get your luggage, wait for your ride/taxi/shuttle. Lots of waiting. And you have to get to the airport long before your flight to allow for all the waiting. And because you can never tell exactly how long all the waiting will take, you usually allow far more time than you actually need, and then end up just sitting in the terminal, waiting some more...

And all this waiting and you end up crammed into a tiny little seat with your knees pushed up against the seat in front of you and your shoulders touching the people on either side of you as you both fight for the single, narrow armrest between your seats. And you hope and pray the person sitting next to you doesn't have BO or bad breath--or worse--and that they aren't a big person so they don't overflow onto your tiny piece of real estate in the over-crowded, often over-booked plane.

If you get stuck with a middle seat, you may have strangers on either side of you, fighting for both those armrests. If you get a window seat, you can lean against the bulkhead and rest, but what if you have to go to the bathroom? You have to get two people to move so you can get out, and move again when you return. If you get an isle seat, you have the luxury of being able to stretch at least one leg out periodically, and no one to climb over to get to the bathroom. But you are likely to get bumped and knocked in the head while people are trying to force their carry-ons into the overhead bins or retrieve them after the flight. It's really a no-win situation unless you are fortunate enough to fly first class.

Every time I fly, I am reminded of an episode of Seinfeld, where Jerry and Elaine travel together, but Jerry is in first class and Elaine is in coach. Jerry enjoys a gourmet meal, fine wine, a roomy comfortable seat, and a pleasant nap. Meanwhile, Elaine is trapped in the middle seat, while the fellow in the aisle seat next to her has bulky carry-on luggage in his lap and sleeps so soundly Elaine can't get out to go to the bathroom. When she finally gets out, they deliver food while she's gone and she doesn't get anything--all that's left is a kosher meal.

So yes, flying is a miserable process. This trip is no exception. The first part wasn't so bad. We arrived at the Nashville airport two and a half hours before our flight, and they were able to get us onto an earlier flight. They do that when they can so that possible delays on the later flight don't cause you to miss a connecting flight. So we didn't have to wait more than a few minutes to board our flight to New York, and the 3 hour flight was reasonably comfortable.

Once in New York, however, we had a 6 hour layover at JFK. Not fun. We had an over-priced underwhelming meal, and sat around for a LONG time. And it was really hot in there. Apparently, they don't feel it's necessary to air condition JFK.

Once we boarded our plane to Ireland, things did not improve. Though we had purchased our tickets more than two months before, we were not able to get two seats together. Kelly was in the middle of the plane, and I was stuck in the very last row, across the isle from two small children. Thankfully, the children were very well-behaved, and I barely heard a wimper out of them. But being in the last row means the seats won't recline even an inch, and it felt as though there was no padding in it, either. A six and a half hour red-eye in the last row in a hard seat makes for an incredibly miserable flight.

Here are some snapshots of our trip so far...

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