Trials of Traveling
After getting the paper out last week, I hopped on a plane and headed to New Hampshire to see family that I don’t get to see very often.
I don’t know if you’ve watched the new T.V. show, “Pan Am,” but among other things, the show reminds us of how it used to be to travel compared with the ordeal it now sometimes is.
(Disclaimer: This segment is a “Back in my day …” kind of thing.)
First off, do you remember when traveling by airplane was a “special occasion”? For example, you dressed up to travel. Not anymore. Why would you when you’re going to have to take off your shoes, belt, etc.?
In the old days, those who drove you to the airport would walk you to your gate or, if you arrived early, would grab a bite to eat with you before you boarded. Not anymore – at least not at LAX. Security check in is very close to the terminal entrance and there’s no restaurant or lounge to spend time together before it’s time to board. Manchester Airport, I noticed, is a little better. There are a couple of places to actually share a meal in the terminal before going through security.
I decided to only bring a carry-on for my trip because I didn’t want to wait in baggage claim. But halfway to security at LAX, I decided that lugging the carry-on was a pain in the neck, so I doubled back and decided to check it.
The first thing the skycap (are they even called that any more?) asked me for was my credit card. I had totally forgotten that it cost money – $25 on Continental – to check a bag. And that is just the beginning.
You can’t bring bottled water past security, so you have to buy it “on the other side.” So I paid $2.99 for a one-liter bottle of water. You can practically buy a 24-bottle case for that!
Once on board, I was given a pair of headphones (unlike the “old days” when you had to pay $5 for them), however the only entertainment available was DirecTV which cost $7.99! Not like the old days when you plugged into your armrest to hear the pilot talking to the tower or had a choice of what kind of music you wanted to listen to. Without paying the $7.99, the armrest was silent.
Shall we talk about the food? Remember when you were offered – at no cost – a choice of meals? It wasn’t exactly five-star fare, but it curbed your appetite for the ride ahead. There’s still a choice of meals, but now you have to pay for it and you’d better have a credit card – the airlines are pretty much “cashless” now. However, I do believe in the early, early days of aviation, you had to bring your own food onboard so perhaps today’s standards are just a throwback to that time.
For my return home on Tuesday, I decided to save some dough and tough it out with the overstuffed carry-on. There are only two items – including your purse – that you’re allowed to bring on board, so I went to the store and bought an oversized cloth bag with handles that I could put my computer and purse into so with the carry on, I was only taking two items on board. It was a pain, as I feared, going through security, having to remove not only my computer from my bag, but also my cosmetic bag from my carry-on to display all my little lotion bottles. Ugh.
But I have to say that one thing that has remained constant throughout these changes is the courtesy of the airline staff. They were readily available to help with just about anything.
And not everything about the good old days was so great. Remember when you could smoke on the plane?
It is rare that I miss Oktoberfest, and I was sorry to this year. However, I am thankful that Leonard Coutin was on hand to take photos, capturing all the fun activities of the day and evening. He seemed to get it all – the only thing missing was the aroma of Schreiner’s Fine Sausages. Make sure and check out Leonard’s photos both in the paper and online.