An airplane ride has changed incredibly in the last decade
September 29, 2010
Recently Polly and I flew to Tucson, Ariz., for the Memorial Service of her half-brother. No, it wasn’t our first airplane ride, but it was our first since 9/11.
Thirty-five or so years ago, I flew several times a week. I had a job that covered nine states, and required a lot of travel. It was just part of nearly every day. And, Denver was still using the Stapelton airport. I knew my way around Stapelton like the back of my hand. This was my first time at DIA. Nice airport, but what a monster! And I am told they are going to enlarge it!
We had a fairly early flight out of Denver, so drove to Denver the night before. There are motels in the area of DIA that offer a room, breakfast, free parking for up to 14 days and a free shuttle to and from the airport. I don’t think there is anyway you could drive yourself to the airport and walk in. It appeared to me, you are going to ride a shuttle no matter what you do.
But has 9/11 changed flying. Take off your boots, take off your belt. Don’t even think of flying with your pocket knife! Take off your hat. My grass hat had to go through X-ray. And all of this takes time. There were about 10,000 people ahead of us at Security. Well … maybe not quite that many, but when you walk up to the end of the line, and there are four of five lines ahead, it looks nearly hopeless. We made it through Security in about 45 minutes. In that length of time, you knew everyone that had showered that morning.
And what people wear now is something else. Years ago, I nearly always traveled in a coat and tie. Now if you are wearing a coat, you have to take it off to clear security. In fact, they don’t need full body X-ray for many of the passengers. No more than they were wearing, they couldn’t have a bomb. There was one, I’m not making this up, that actually was wearing shorty pajama’s, a button up sweater (unbuttoned) and she was flying somewhere!
Flying out of Tucson was much simpler, and clearing security was much faster. You still had to undress, but there weren’t as many people as in Denver.
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We flew out of Tucson on Friday, and Fridays on airplanes haven’t changed. Always on Friday, even thirty-five years ago, there was always a bunch of young people, alright, college kids, and they don’t believe in checking baggage. They seem to fly with everything they own, and carry it on. I know, one carry on, one under the seat, and one personal item. That personal item covers a wide range. And as years ago, the flight was delayed because it takes longer to board with all the carry-on. There was one young lady with a bag she couldn’t lift to the overhead bin. Nice young man to the rescue. I would ban all carry-on baggage more than a brief case or purse. That could eliminate those “Jet-Blue” incidents.
And no free peanuts. Always years ago, the airlines were the number one source of peanuts. No more. You can buy peanut candy for $3, but no free peanuts.
But with all my gripes, flying is the only way to travel a longer distance. We have made a couple non-vacation trips by car this summer, and flying is less stressful. Two of the car trips was in excess of 850 miles in one stretch … about 15 hours each. You know, that is a long way and time in one car with each other!
Flying isn’t as much fun as it was years ago. Oh, the planes are better, but these monster airports leave a lot to be desired. I liked “Old Stapelton” much better than DIA. Tucson had built a new airport since I was there last. Very nice.
And last, rental cars. I drive American-made vehicles. I don’t like foreign made cars. I’m an American. I live in America. And whenever possible, I buy “Made in America.”
When I made the car rental reservations, I specified an American-made car. At the time I made the reservation, I didn’t realize the car rental was off the airport property. In this case, about a mile or so off the airport property. They picked us up and we rode a shuttle to the car rental. And all they had were foreign-made cars. What do you do, walk and roll your suitcase back to the airport, or very begrudgingly take their foreign-made car. Always make certain, the car rental counter is in the airport. Then if there’s a problem, you can always walk down the line to another. But not if the car rental is a mile or so off the airport property.
Don’t be afraid to fly. Arrive early, and it is just possible we are entering a new age in air travel … FLY NAKED!