Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thanks

Thank you for all your kind comments, it makes me feel much better about my blog. No new knitting news, nothing earth shattering going on around here, but maybe I can catch up on things in general.

I've been on the road a bit lately. Flying is a whole new experience now what with exploding hair gel. Ever since 9/11 there has been a lot of yelling at airports. Not screaming matches ala Diannah Ross, but general instructions being yelled. I wonder if the reservation agents and TSA people realized all the yelling they'd be doing when they accepted their positions. So in case you haven't flown lately and are getting ready to fly somewhere for the holidays, here is a rundown on the state of the airports. At least as I have found them.

I always fly on an e-ticket and I love being able to check in online. Now that my toiletries are considered a danger, I'm checking my bags. Me and everyone else. The electronic kiosks at Mpls/St. Paul airport have been turned into manned electronic kiosks with check in areas for baggage. When I reached the kiosk area I was greeted by a friendly, yelling Northwest Airlines reservation agent yelling instructions about where to go if you are checking bags versus where to go if you are not. I invaribly end up in line behind two senior citizens flying off to see the grandkids. They can't manage the touchscreen check in and take four times longer than anyone else to complete the transaction.

Bags checked, I stand near the doors and assess the security line situation. Unlike most airports, MSP has 5 or 6 different security lines. So I have to determine which one seems to be moving the fastest. Back in the days that I was flying all the time I had "elite" status with NW resulting in automatic upgrades, so I could get into the first class only security line which usually saved time. There were fewer people in the first class line, plus they were people who traveled often and knew the drill so there was a lot less yelling.

I picked a line and began to run the TSA security gauntlet. The first station is the people who never yell. Mainly because they don't speak any English. They check your boarding pass against your drivers license, look at you and squint, then make an illegible mark on your boarding pass. They will grunt at you to indicate you've passed this first all important security check.

The TSA security gauntlet has a whole new station of zip lock bag ladies. Begin the yelling. Waving zip locks over their heads they shout the instructions that will protect us all from potentially life threatening exploding toiletries and beverages. No more than 3 ounces per jar/tube, all must be contained in zip lock bags (imagine zip lock bags can protect us from exploding toothpaste!) No water, no coffee. If you didn't prepack with zip locks they will provide them to you. Anything over 3 ounces must be disposed of. Of course I am behind a woman wearing aprox $50,000 worth of heavy gold jewelry, dressed in a brightly colored velour track suit and ostrich cowboy boots. She is very unhappy that she will have to throw away Lancome face cream that retails for over $100 a jar. Now she'll look wrinkly as well as dressed badly.

Next comes the actual security line with the TSA agents whose job it is to yell about laptops. The champion laptop yellers are at Chicago's Midway airport. These women can yell long and loud. Laptops must come out of your bag and be placed in a separate bin. Throw your cell phone, sunglasses, book, bag, coat and shoes in another bin. Jewelry can generally go through the machine on your person unless you are wearing aproximately $50,000 worth or are wearing a huge belt buckle bearing the Smith and Wesson logo. If you are wearing both, please just turn around and go home to get therapy before you fly. If you choose to ignore this warning, please God don't be in the seat next to me. While you cannot bring an un-zip locked tube of tooth paste through to the plane, feel free to bring your knitting. Addi turbos are a-okay. They will come in handy if you end up next to the ostrich boot woman (did I mention she bathed in Calvin Klein's Obsession?) on the plane and have the urge to hang yourself from the overhead bins.

Once through the metal detector you can have a choice of being wanded or you may have your bags swabbed for gunpowder residue! Being swabbed is preferrable to being wanded. At least you know where your bag is. If you are a woman, being wanded involves waiting for the next available TSA wand woman (so you don't feel harrassed while being wanded by a man. I have felt harrassed since the cabbie dropped me off at the airport) while watching the conveyor frantically to make sure your bag doesn't get stolen.

Now you are free to board your plane. Or sit on the dirty carpet at the gate (there are 250 people on your flight and 80 chairs at the gate) waiting to board. When they call first class everyone will lurch to the gate hauling their zip locks. There are 16 seats in first class and 75 people lined up when they call boarding for first class. Figure that.

Gone are the days of sitting in first class sharing a bag of candy orange slices with the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves (he is pretty cute and single btw), I'm now in the middle seat in coach stuck between guy who has asked for a seatbelt extension and close-talker-guy who has decided to take off his shoes. Behind me are seniors who talk very loudly. Perhaps they have been rendered deaf by being yelled at so many times before boarding. Now the flight attendants can tell everyone to put their seats up and turn off their blackberries and cell phones. We are off! There are no peanuts, pretzels, magazines or horrible food to distribute anymore so the flight attendants can now gather to complain about the airline, the passengers, the gate agents, and how much their feet hurt.

When the plane lands and they tell you that you can fire up your cell phones, please participate in the "I'm so important that the Stock Exchange has probably crashed while I was out of touch for one hour" ritual of firing up your cell phone. If it doesn't start immediately buzzing with messages, frantically dial someone to tell them you have landed. It could be your mother on the other end of the phone, but make it look like you are speaking to the chairman of a Fortune 100 company.

I travel for business so my journey ends at the cab stand. If you are traveling for pleasure (can travel be a pleasure these days?) you must go to the airport holding pen to try to find your loved ones. The holding pens vary from airport to airport, but are designed to keep dangerous non-flyers from infiltrating the system. Personally I think the most dangerous person in the airport is whomever just sat next to the ostrich boot woman, who has spent the entire flight whining about her lost Lancome. I hope your loved ones have their cell phones with them because calling them and trying to explain your general location is the only way they will find you.

Fun huh? Glamorous! It's a party in the sky! Don't you wish you traveled for business? Maybe next time I'll tell you about how much I love staying in hotels! Bring your Clorox cleanup wipes.

8 comments:

Tipper said...

I just bought my plane ticket to visit my mom in Mesa, and appreciate the rundown (though it sort of fills me with fear, too).

Beth said...

My husband had a business trip the other day and told me about all the bins at the security checkpoint. I think he had to use four for all of his stuff. You make it all sound like a lot more fun. ;)

Anonymous said...

Traveling for work . .. I miss that actually!! I travel with a 2 year old now!!!! I flew about once a week when I was a HR Director and LOVED it. The hotels, the room service, etc. Those were the days . . .

Lisa said...

Hilarious yet disturbing (I have to fly late next week! YIKES!!)

Chris said...

Hee hee - I enjoyed your amusing spin on this trial!

Sydney said...

LOL! I've been wondering how flying is in the ziploc / exploding toothpaste era.

Sheepish Annie said...

I used to stress out during air travel back in the good old days when you could just carry your "weapons" freely and openly.

It would probably cause my brain to explode from the anxiety these days! Sheesh...

Kat said...

Wow, I am in awe of your ability to paint such a vibrant picture. Hey - I have to go to MSP for training in December - I'd love to get together and knit!!!!! :-) I will come sans explosive devices. I am just a poor, puny, midwestern girl packing Addi Turbo's!