30 December 2009

Some Thoughts on Flying Airlines

I'm in Las Vegas on my way home. My flight home leaves in an hour, but is "possibly overbooked". Southwest is offering a $100 travel voucher and a free one-way ticket to paradise if I volunteer to be bumped. TAKE ME! TAKE ME! I'm kinda enjoying watching folks poke coins into the slot machines adjacent to the gate, and I am no longer on a deadline to be anywhere. For the first time on this journey I can take a deep breath and relax.

The "Skivvies bomber" incident happened the day before I flew to Phoenix and details were still sketchy, so there was no reaction from the TSA that I could discern. Leaving L.A. this morning I set off the metal detector when I didn't take off my watch... they must have the machines cranked up to a higher sensitivity, 'cause that's a first for me. Good for them.
Big Bubba's new apartment is less than ten minutes from John Wayne/Orange County airport. It was a joy this morning, not having to worry about a race to the airport. As always, Southwest seems to have their ducks in a row with this security thing too... I was at my gate waiting to board 45 minutes before the flight.

If you are watching the news or scanning the blogs you know they are considering a further tightening of security procedures. I've heard discussions, and would like to chat here a little about it...
Once upon a time you could show up at the airport 30 minutes before your flight, go through check-in where you got tickets and checked your baggage, walk to your gate and board your airplane. Obviously, those days are LONG GONE. We now have to allow an hour or so to do the adminstrative stuff and go through security, which in my way of thinking eliminates consideration of a lot of shorter flights. By the time you drive to the airport and go through all the hassle, you could be well on your way on a drive of five hours or less. If security procedures start using up more time, we'll be considering a drive of longer distances rather than flying. (Bringing the dog along this trip made me feel guilty and I'll consider driving a long, long way before I subject him to that experience again!) Homeland Security/TSA will have to carefully weigh whatever procedures they put in place, lest they kill the airline industry altogether.

My connection on the flight to Phoenix was in Chicago. It was snowing when I landed there, and the snow increased in intensity after I arrived. From the terminal we could see six or so snowplows lining up in echelon to make a trip down the runway to clear it. The anti-icing station was just outside my gate, so we watched as airplanes came to a stop to allow crews to hose the aircraft clear of ice and snow. It was fascinating to watch the efficiency of that operation. But I watched as visibility went to virtually zero, and it was obvious they were having to stack aircraft up in a holding pattern because landing frequency decreased dramatically. Sure enough, the announcement came that our airplane would be delayed a half hour... then another announcement that it would be an hour late. Southwest was very nice about trying to insure all our needs were met... the L.A. crew gave out lots of goodies and refilled our beverages two or three times. But if you are traveling in the future, if you have to make a connecting flight, consider where that connection will happen. I don't recommend Chicago Midway.

They have free Wifi at John Wayne/Orange County.
They have free Wifi at McCarren/Las Vegas.
All airports should have free Wifi.

I'll update ya as things progress here.


Anonymous said...

Sure glad you were here to help me move this week. Could not have done it without you!

Have a safe trip home!!

Big Bubba

cary said...

Glad travel for you is going well.

Prayers that the rest of your itinerary is boring.

cj said...

Hope your return trip was relatively hassle free... if you've made it, that is!


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

And that's a very important balance, isn't it, between security and killing an industry.

If it gets much tighter, I won't be flying unless it's across the entire friggin' nation or overseas.