I recently had the “opportunity” to travel for work. Hey some of us are born great, some achieve greatness and others have the curse of business travel thrust upon them by a boss who sends you instead of himself (that’s known as leadership kids).
I hate traveling for business. Back in the day it was fun. Get to see new cities or even countries. Get to try new food and drink. Get out of the office for days on end. Generally accomplish very little except that good old face-time with colleagues and customers. And, to top it off, all of it was paid for by the man. Good times.
Post 9/11, post economy going in the shitter, it’s very different. And, I got a taste of it recently, so I thought I’d give you the highlights.
This trip was a cross-country jaunt. Many of you are thinking…pfff, that’s easy; it’s not like you flew to Asia, South Africa or the moon. That’s a short trip. Well, the beauty of travel from west to east is you blow a whole friggin day doing it. So, when Sunday night rolled around and I started packing, the wife asked, “what time’s your flight tomorrow?”
I pulled up my itinerary via my trusty smart phone, “that’s a good question…lemme see. Hmm, I must have entered it wrong. I NEVER take a 6am flight. Shit, didn’t enter it wrong.”
“Well at least the airport is only 15 minutes away at that hour of the morning.”
“Ummm, not so much. The only way to get a direct flight meant I had to go outta San Francisco.”
“HA. Sucks to be you. The good news is that having to get up at 3:30 am will make it really easy to fall asleep on the flight!”
Got to the Long Term Parking lot just in time to catch the bus to the terminals. Good thing I left early because the security line was extra long…all the way past where the rope maze started – very reminiscent of my last Disneyland trip. Good thing TSA had all 3 of their 7 stations open. God forbid they actually used their capacity to it’s fullest.
While I waited in line listening to Capt. TSA explain for the 100th time that you can’t have anything in your pockets, I noticed that I was in Boarding Group 2. Sweet, get on early, stow my bag, get my seat and watch all the other suckers try to stow their bag overhead.
Turns out Boarding Group 2 should be more accurately described as the 6th or 7th group boarding behind, the Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Kryptonite groups. Behind families traveling with small kids, people needing assistance (not because they’re stupid, which they are) and military in uniform (I’m very cool with this last one) groups.
I was one of the first 10 people of Group 2 and made my way onboard. Backpack and pullman in tow I made my way to my seat. Row 20 of the American Airlines wide body 767.
Boeing, I don’t know what you were thinking with the design of the overhead compartments. It’s impossible to fit a roller-board bag in the overhead wheels first which we all know is the best way to maximize their capacity. Sounds good anyway. In fact you can get maybe one roller-board and a backpack in each overhead. So, as a result, those of us in Group 2 had virtually nothing left. I ended up putting mine about 8 rows behind my seat, but was happy my bag made it above. Groups 3-8…sucks to be you!
So, as those sucks to be them groups made it onboard dragging their life’s collections behind them the Flight Attendants began their announcements, “there is no more room for roller-board bags overhead, please bring them up to the front of the plane to be checked to your final destination.” Quickly followed by, “As I mentioned, please bring your bags to the front of the plane.” This went on for about 3 more announcements while the aisles were packed. Then, “Folks, we need everyone to sit so we can push back from the gate on time, we need your bags up front.”
Here’s the deal, I feel for the Flight Attendants. They have to deal with this multiple times a day and with grumpy people who insist on putting their small backpack and/or purse up top so they can stretch their feet out. They deal with the angry asses who think the rules don’t apply to them. I feel for them.
But, at this point, they were getting mad as were the travelers. And, as one flight attendant tried to squeeze by dozens of people and their bags saying, “people we need you to take your bags back up front” one person finally lost it. “Lady, look up the aisle, it’s packed from row 27 all the way up front with people and bags, how the hell do you expect me to get my bag up there?”
Good point angry dude destined for the center seat in row 25. Good point.
Now I’m no expert in passenger loading dynamics, but it would seem to me that if American (and probably other planes) would just say “Bags are Free” like Southwest not as many people would try to carry on their life’s possessions just to save $25. And, until you decide to upgrade your plane’s overheads you might even tell them no roller-boards because it’s physically impossible to get 200+ people and their 2 big bags on-board.
Finally all the bags and people were stowed and we were off. I’d been up now for over 3 hours and had yet to leave the ground for my 6 hour flight. On the bright side, I had plenty of legroom to stretch out my feet even with my backpack and terminal bought lunch under the seat in front of me as directed.