Public radio may have their savvy traveler, but you, blog readers, have me...the Snarky Traveler. I say snarky because as I traveled home yesterday from Vegas, all kinds of snarky comments kept rolling through my head and occasionally off my tongue.
First, I must admit...I read 2 of Chelsea Handler's books on my trip. I envy the way she just lets it fly sometimes...you know...those comments that go through your mind, but never out of your mouth. Well, Chelsea let's 'em fly...and I really do envy that at times!
So, due to my recent literary experiences I think that my own snarky comment sense was heightened. I can usually be counted on to find something to say pretty frequently, however yesterday I was finding pretty much something to say about everyone and everything...
I don't think I've ever flown US Airways in my life. After this trip, I will avoid them at all costs. I'm pretty confident that US Airways stands not for United States, but something more appropriate for their general attitude...probably Unconcerned Sons-a-bitches or Unhelpful Saps.
Here's my biggest problem with the flight from Vegas to Phoenix...Snarky Traveler complaint #1. Now, before I begin, remember, I am NOT a small girl. I am not one to go around bitching about fat people, being one of them. However, if my ass would not fit into ONE airplane seat, I would have the decency to either keep my fat ass at home, or buy 2 seats in order to not smush the poor person next to me. Honestly, I really would.
Well, not everyone is quite as considerate. This plane was 3 seats, aisle, and 3 more seats. I had the window seat. The man and woman next to me were really big. Again, I'm a FP, so I'm not dissing the Fat People. But these folks were big. Hubby (or boyfriend or whatever) was in the aisle seat. He encroached into about 1/2 of the Missus' seat. So, she then had to take up about 1/2 of my seat.
I boarded the plane almost last because there's really no rush to get on and fight for overhead compartments...HA HA HA...or so I thought. (That's Snarky Traveler complaint #2, so more on that later). Mr. and Mrs. Big were seated by the time I got on board. They had to both get up and let me in. Then, as I was taking my coat off they sat down...I looked back and wondered how I was supposed to wedge MY ass in the small space available after they had sat down.
Honestly...I am not lying here...I squeezed into the seat and then had to wrap my left arm around my body and put my left leg up on my right and lean into the window. Seriously.
Now, one would think that Unfriendly Shits Airways would've said "Perhaps we should move you Mrs. Smushed-against-the window to an open seat or charge Mr. & Mrs. Big for the extra seat clearly needed, but NO. I remained smashed against the window for the entire flight.
On to Snarky Traveler complaint #2...carry on bags and airlines that charge for luggage. Apparently the industry norm now is for airlines to charge $20 and more for each bag you check. I really think this is ridiculous. I mean, you're going somewhere. Don't you need some underwear and a change of clothes? I can see charging for the 2nd and subsequent bags, but the first?
W T F???
Well, here's what's happening. Passengers that are trying to get around the charge are now stuffing the SHIT out of their carry-on bag and avoiding the charge. Unfortunately, these folks are bringing on these filled-to-the-brim bags that are filling up the overhead compartments. So I followed the rules, checked my bag and paid $25. Then I get on the plane and get berated by the Unkind Slob Airways flight attendant for having no place to put my laptop bag and coat. I had already crammed my purse under the seat in front of me. I ended up having to shove my laptop bag under there too, with my purse crammed on top of the laptop. This maneuver gave me NO place for my legs, but that was no problem, because Mrs. Big had me crammed in there so tight I had to put my left leg over my right in order to fit anyway.
Interestingly enough, my laptop bag and coat were moved so that some cheap ass could cram his 87 pound carry-on bag into the bin. N I C E.
After landing in Phoenix, the pilot announces that this plane goes on to St. Louis, but those of you flying on to St. Louis need to get off the plane. Apparently there is something wrong with this plane, so it needs to go into the hanger for repairs and a new plane will be brought out to replace it. This sounds pretty reasonable to me. I went and grabbed a sandwich and then sat by the gate. The plane however, remained at the gate. Service carts came and restocked, fuel truck refueled the bird....and a maintenance truck was doing something.
As we re-boarded, I said to the crew, "I came in on this from Vegas, so I guess you got the problem fixed, huh???"
I was told that a maintenance crew had come over and worked on the plane.
Um, OK, so they FIXED the problem, right?
Again, my question was answered with a statement about maintenance, but never was my question directly answered with something reassuring like, "Yes, the problem has been repaired".
No problems getting to St. Louis, so I guess they fixed the problem.
Once I got to St. Louis I had to go to the Main Terminal (out of security) and get my boarding pass for the Cape Air flight to Marion. This wasn't any big deal, but a minor inconvenience. I got back through security, grabbed some nasty fried rice for dinner and went to the gate. We were told that they were having trouble balancing the weight in the full flight and so we would be a little delayed. Finally, 20 minutes after we should have taken off, the Cape Air lady comes in and says they're going to assign us seating because of the weight balancing. Now, the only seat I don't want to sit in is next to the pilot. Other than that, I'm a happy camper on these small planes. Next to the pilot should be a co-pilot in my opinion, and in case of emergency, you don't want ME sitting next to the pilot. Also, the seat next to the pilot has lots of knobs, dials, buttons, and a steering wheel (or whatever the hell they call it on a plane). Another thing you don't want is me getting jumpy and hitting a button or turning the wheel if I think the pilot took a left when he should've taken a right! I am a horrible back seat driver, so again, not really the gal you want sitting next to the pilot.
Well, as luck would have it, the first name she calls is "Martin". Shit....seriously? You're starting in the back, then right?
"No, ma'am, we're starting in the front. Now for row 2, Someone luckier than you and Another guy that is luckier than you".
Now, this plane holds 11 passengers I think. After the lady lines us all up and explains that under NO circumstances are we to change places and we must sit EXACTLY as she has lined us up, I REALLY start to panic. I have failed to mention until now that it is SERIOUSLY foggy in St. Louis. I mean REALLY FOGGY.
It's time to bargain. "Wait...before we go out, let me just say that I was honest about my weight when asked when I checked in. Now, I am not one to go blabbing my weight, but before we go out, how about if I turn around and holler out my number and just see if any of these nice gentlemen behind me weigh about what I do and then we swap places, 'cause I REALLY do not want to sit in the cockpit."
"Sorry, ma'am, but we've got it all sorted out and we really need to get moving before this weather gets any worse".
OMG...the Candid Camera guys can come out ANY time now. Maybe I'm being Punk'd. Ashton....Ashton????? I am seriously thinking someone is messing with me. I CAN NOT sit up front. It's dark, it's foggy, and I've got a bad hangover. I have been on the verge of vomiting all day and this surely will put me over the edge. Unfortunately all I have on me is a diet coke and no Jack to dump in. A little Jack would've probably soothed my nerves to the point that I wouldn't have been so freaked.
Well, we go out and climb in. I'm so dammed freaked out I can't even figure out how to belt myself in. The frigging pilot had to hook my seat belt. I do 2 things when nervous...fidget and wise crack. Fidgeting seemed like a REALLY bad idea, so my mouth started running.
First I explain to the pilot that I hope he's good to go on this one, 'cause I have to admit I've been drinking heavily all day and the FAA would not be happy with my blood alcohol content. Everyone on the plane laughs, and the pilot smiles and says "I should be good as long as I don't have a heart attack...it's your show if that happens". Cripes....thanks for making me feel SO much better.
Then the pilot does his spiel about exits (while I point them out in my very best flight attendant impersonation), how long the flight will take, blah blah blah. Then I turn around and tell everyone to sit back, relax, and as soon as we get to our cruising altitude I will be serving beverages. Unfortunately all I have is this 1/2 drunk diet coke, but I'll be glad to pass it back and share. Ha ha ha....everyone thinks the copilot is a frigging comedienne. As we're taxiing out, one of the passengers asks me what the in-flight movie will be. (Someones always got to encourage me, right?)
"Well, all I have is my cell phone, but I'm returning from Vegas so there COULD be some interesting footage on there". The passengers all laugh and the guy requests that I just hold it up in the middle so that they can all see...ha ha ha. At this point, I'm pretty sure the pilot was ready to stab himself. A plane full of wise crackers, the biggest one sitting next to him.
OK, time for takeoff...this part was pretty cool...We're sitting there at the end of a really long, really bright corridor of lights. The engines are revving and the whole plane is quivering with excitement...it's ready to roll. Vrrrrrmmmm....off we go. A tad freaky, but I can see what's going on so it's all good. Up in the air we climb...not very far into the climb we hit the fog. Fog and lots of it...thick, mashed potato like fog. Here's where my hungover stomach and I start to have a bit of trouble.
Imagine, if you will, driving in the most freakishly thick fog imaginable. Now imagine that on a very bumpy and rocky road that may or may not be on the side of a mountain. E v e r y instinct in my body was saying "Pull over...we cannot continue forward under these conditions". Finally I just had to sit with my eyes closed and pray that I didn't have to vomit in my very favorite and very big Coach bag.
Finally I felt us leveling off, so I dared to open my eyes. We were now above all of the fog and clouds and I could see stars. Ahhhh....I'm OK again. I actually started to enjoy the ride. That is, until the pilot pulls some kind of manual from under his seat and starts reading it while keeping one hand on the steering wheel. As the flight was a bit turbulent, I was very tempted to help him out and put BOTH of my hands on MY steering wheel located directly in front of me. I wasn't gonna turn it, just hold the damned thing steady for him while he read "Flying By Instruments 101" or whatever the hell he was consulting DURING our flight.
As my luck (or lack thereof) would have it, we ended up back in the clouds and my stomach protested again. Moving forward with zero visibility apparently does something to my brain. I get dizzy and nauseous. I'm sure the dozen or so Coronas from the night before didn't help this brain malfunction, but who's to know for sure.
Once again I am found sitting in the co-pilots seat with my eyes firmly shut, praying that I do not have resort to barfing in my Coach bag.
Now, I recall that during our little banter back on the runway that the pilot did mention that it wasn't cloudy or foggy in Marion, so I am alternating between praying against the vomiting in the Coach option and that we're running out of the cloud cover SOON.
Periodically I open an eye slightly to see if we're still in the white-out or if we've come out of it. Finally, 38 minutes into the flight as I peek out of my right eye I see lights! Woo hoo....lights of towns. I am no longer concerned that we could possibly run this puppy aground, 'cause now I can SEE the ground! We're not going to crash into a mountainside that has miraculously appeared since Monday. I can see what's going on and I like it MUCH better.
Thankfully it's cloudless for the next 6 minutes of our flight, whereby we begin the decent into Marion. I am able to watch and even enjoy the landing. As we taxi up to the terminal I congratulate the pilot on a job well done and tell him that if he needs my help again, just to give me a call. Again, laughs from the peanut gallery behind me.
Next comes the most wonderful part of my vacation............
I walk into the terminal and I hear "Mommmmmmmmyyyyyyy" as 2 adorable kids run to greet me, each with a bouquet in hand! The folks in the terminal "awwwww" at this site. I look up from the embrace of my awesome kids and smile at their equally awesome Daddy.
Dorothy was right......There's no place like HOME!