Tales of exotic adventures, humorous anecdotes, and musings from The Traveler... The adventure awaits...
June 2003* 06/23/03




























Flying, the Easy Way to Travel

By Elizabeth L. Blair

I elbowed my way through the hustle and bustle of the crowded Los Angeles airport on a mission to making my short flight to Phoenix, AZ; with hopes of first grabbing a cup of coffee and a copy of the daily paper.

How hard could it be? After all, flying is the easy way to travel. I approached the madhouse of security, for a moment I thought I was a contestant in a reality TV show but things calmed down as a new lane opened up. With a dozen other people we rushed over and formed a new line. I dug out my laptop computer and placed it into a gray tub then placed my roller bag and carryon on the conveyer belt. The security screener sat perched on his stool squinting at the screen that held an x-ray vision of the man’s carry-on bag a few people in front of me. The screener yelled, “Bag check!” Hmmm. I wondered what he had in there. I checked my watch. I was doing okay on time. I could still grab my coffee and paper. The line began to shift, then the person in front of me was told to stop because there was a bottleneck on the other side. The conveyer belt began to move and my luggage vanished behind the black teeth. The one-hour special on TV flashed through my mind about the sneaky thieves who trick people at airport screenings and end up stealing naïve traveler’s possessions. I wondered if a dishonest stranger who saw my predicament was picking up my belongings at that very moment as I stood helpless on the other side. I stood on my toes looking through the crowd. I pictured him laughing as he realized what he could get for my laptop on eBay.

Finally, it was my turn. A security man was frantically waving at me to hurry through the magic door that would take me to another world. As I glided through I looked at the pile of bags at the end of the belt. Panic overtook my entire body when I didn’t see my computer or bags with the big yellow bows tied to the handles. Desperately, my eyes darted around the area looking for who could have swiped my luggage. I was ready to tackle the thief. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a splash of yellow floating down the conveyer belt. It was mine. I began to move toward my laptop and two bags. I felt so relieved I was afraid I was going to make a scene and hug my possessions. Instead I heard, “Not so fast.” I turned around to see the man in the white shirt shaking his head saying, “You set off the metal detector. You need to be hand searched.” I have never set off the metal detector. I felt my pockets. Quarters rattled. It was the change for my paper. The security screener pointed down an isle of glass where the fairy god-screener stood with her magic wand. Emotionless the screener said, “That way.”

“But, my things…” I said.

“Don’t worry she’ll get them.” Another security personnel retrieved my things and followed me. She placed my luggage on a table within view of my screening location. The next thing I knew I was told to sit in a chair as the fairy god-screener in a white shirt and blue pants sent my shoes through the x-ray. When she returned she asked me to raise my legs. “Good thing my trouser socks don’t have any holes today,” I said out loud with my feet in the air. The screener was not amused and ignored my comment as she waved the wand near the bottom of my feet. She told me to stand and spread my legs and arms. I did as she said. I felt like I should be in a yoga class, so I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. She felt up and down my spine and waved the wand in front of my chest. My chest made the wand beep. She asked if I was wearing an under wire bra, which I was. “I’m sorry, I have to feel,” she said and she did. She made me undo my belt and felt up and down my thighs. I felt dirty. She returned my shoes to me and I put them on. I glanced at my watch. I needed to be at the gate. There was no time to get my newspaper or to stand in line behind thirty people for my Starbucks coffee. Bummer.

At least I made my flight. I boarded the plane to find myself sitting next to an Avon lady who was passing out perfume samples to everyone in a six-row radius. The only problem was I’m allergic to perfume and the plane was full with nowhere to move. I began sneezing and couldn’t stop. The man across the aisle kept dishing me dirty looks with every sneeze. Once the plane was in the air my ears began to ache from the congestion in my sinuses. To add to my distress, the cabin kept growing colder and colder until I began to hallucinate I was in Antarctica. Much to my disappointment, there were no more blankets. The man sitting by the window of my row had grabbed ten of the blue airline blankets. I crossed my arms, shivering and tossed him a dirty look. He smirked back at me and closed his eyes.

The food and beverage service began. I ate my three pretzels slowly, trying to make them last. The coffee wasn’t Starbucks, but I refused to complain, after all, it was caffeine. Fortunately, the flight attendant was nice enough to find me a day old paper, which kept from having to talk to the Avon lady.

We began our descent and the flight attendant walked by with a trash bag. I threw my empty coffee cup in the bag and thanked her and she turned to the row across from me. The lady next to me reached across my chest and tried to poke the flight attendant. Shocked at how rude that was I had half the nerve to say, “Is poking her necessary? Just say excuse me and you’ll get her attention.” The woman became extremely panicked that she wouldn’t get to throw her cup away so she whistled in my ear. The flight attendant, who was collecting trash from the other side of the aisle, whipped around and when she did the woman holding the cup spilled the remaining cranberry juice and ice all over my tray, which ran into my lap. I reached into my carryon bag to look for a napkin to clean up the spill. Instead, I found the lotion I took from the hotel had exploded. When we finally landed I looked up and whispered, “Thank you.” Finally, I could enjoy the rest of my day playing golf on a beautiful green golf course then lying by a refreshing pool with a margarita in hand. The seatbelt sign turned off and the plane full of people jumped up to find they had nowhere to go. I remained in my seat, which was a mistake. I heard, “Heads up.” A heavy duffle bag bounced off my head and left a lump. As I deplaned with a bag of ice on my head and cranberry juice stained pants a pilot standing in front of the cockpit said, “Goodbye, I hope you enjoyed your flight. Come back and see us again.”

I flashed a weary smile and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back. Flying is the easy way to travel.”

By Elizabeth L. Blair

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