Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I vividly recall a long lost era when flying was actually fun! (Really!!!)

While there were no specific dress codes per se, you had to be properly dressed or you just didn’t fit in. Shirt and tie for gentleman and even young boys; a dress with frills for the ladies and young ladies alike was the uniform of the day. Everyone seemed so neat and proper. I rather enjoyed it.

Today, as long as your private parts are (mostly) covered, it just doesn’t matter how gruff you look. No problem – welcome aboard. Flip flops? Cool – come on down! Shorts and a T-Shirt? Good-to-go! Why not.? Forgot to bathe? Don’t worry – catch a shower when you get home. Drunk, rowdy or whatever? Not an issue. They’ll help you find your seat, strap you in, and hope you stay in it during the flight. They’ll even sell you more to drink just to pacify you and hope you remain seated! (If you think this is an exaggeration, take a flight out of Cancun and judge for yourself.)

I do not recall any luggage ever being screened, x-rayed, measured and weighed, ultra violated or even given a second look. Today – forget it. It is always x-rayed and often opened, and of course resealed, with a cheery note from Homeland Security. On occasion, some items have been “confiscated” from my luggage without explanation. I’ve actually had carry-on luggage x-rayed, screened, and searched 3 times before being able to board! Maybe I have that terrorist look or something. I’ve got luggage that’s been x-rayed so many times that I’m amazed that it doesn’t glow in the dark!

Today there are multiple baggage restrictions and you oftentimes have to pay for checked luggage! If you fly internationally, the first piece is free, but the second checked piece of luggage isn’t. Prices vary from carrier to carrier. Oh! And some seats, even in the “tourist” section of the plane, cost more! If you want a seat with more leg room, such as the bulk head seats, that will be an extra $69.00 US. Some carriers are talking about extra charges for aisle seats also. Good grief! Where and when will this price gouging by the airlines stop!?!

Oh! And heaven forbid you should have a liquid or a gel on you or in your carry-on before you board. This is borderline criminal and “confiscation” is the word of the day. You can pack liquids and gels in your check-in luggage and risk the chance of having them break and spill over all your clothing, or just buy what you need when you get to wherever it is you’re going. That seems so much easier. There is also a process to carry minimal amounts of liquids and gels in your carry-on luggage if they have been properly measured, sealed and stored in the correct size zip lock bag. Personally, I can’t be bothered, won’t take the risk of “confiscation”, and find it easier to buy what I need when I get there.

And before you’re ever allowed to enter the boarding area, you and your carry-on luggage are screened and x-rayed at least once, usually twice. Once in the air side terminal area, you are again inspected/searched (various forms – can be exciting) to make sure that the other three screening processes didn’t miss anything. Sometimes, you even have to get undressed, or at least remove your shoes. (Hmmmm . . . flip flops are sounding better all the time!) Shoeless, you now have to remove your belt and any metal objects you have on you. Here’s hoping the belt you just removed wasn’t holding up your pants! And ladies, most reinforced and under-wire bras set off the machines and put them in a tilt mode with lights flashing and sirens roaring. "Confiscation" is a possibility, so it’s best to go braless. Guys like that better anyways.

Should you spot a friend on the other side of the airport and his name is Jack, under no circumstances should you ever yell out “Hi Jack”! You will immediately be wrestled to the ground and (yep, you guessed it) “confiscated”. It’s probably best to pretend you didn’t see him or just wave and smile, or even a nod of recognition, but NEVER “Hi Jack”. And no jokes either! There are warning signs and public service announcements advising of the consequences which probably include “confiscation”. Same goes for unattended luggage – “confiscation”.

As a young guy, I recall flirting with the stewardesses and always getting a neat pair of plastic wings to wear on my freshly starched and ironed white dress shirt. (I also fantasized about being “confiscated”.) Once, I even got a tie bar! I don’t know if they still do that or not. I may ask for my plastic wings this trip just to see what they say. (“Confiscation” comes to mind!) And, believe this or not, it was permissible to go and visit the captain during the flight! Can you imagine!?! A visit to the cockpit – unheard of! As a young man, I actually did this on more than one occasion and even got to sit in a jump seat right behind the captain while we were at 20,000 feet! Try that today, and guess what?? Right – “confiscation”!

I even recall looking forward to the meals that you were served. Although not gourmet, you usually had a choice of the entre which was always fresh, hot, tasty, healthy, and presented to you with real silverware and a smile. Today, consider yourself fortunate to get a small glass of Coke and a micro-mini bag of micro-mini pretzels. You can sometimes get a smile with that if you’re lucky. But I don’t blame the hired help, I blame the carrier. Three glasses of Coke can be had from one can. I always ask for the can. This way, I can at least get my thirst quenched. There aren’t enough micro-mini pretzels in the bag to feed an anorexic squirrel. That’s why I always manage to have a bite to eat before I board. Some airlines are now selling sandwiches and other food/snack items. It’s like they haven’t made enough off of you for your airfare, they are now going into the restaurant business.

Some airlines used to give complimentary booze, even in tourist class. (I always tried to book with those airlines.) Today, a miniature bottle of booze will cost you around $6.00 US dollars, but don’t even think you can pay cash for it. No way! Credit cards only!! I can only surmise that the staff isn’t good at making change (or something). I really haven’t quite figured that one out. “You mean to tell me that you don’t want my US dollars???? They’re no good and won’t spend????? Even on this United States of America airlines???” I hope this isn’t a trend.

Today, there are multiple amenities in the cabin area including movies, music, telephones, and other electronic devices for your flying pleasure. Get your credit card out and keep it handy. US dollars not accepted! Years ago, we had no such luxuries. (Some of those things weren’t even invented yet!) Magazines and coloring books and crayons were handed out and considered a treat! We dozed, conversed with family and friends, struck up conversations with other passengers, and basically, just enjoyed the ride. It seemed simpler then.

After ranting and raving, I must confess that I am willing to comply with whatever rules they can come up with. I want to fly safe and be secure. While it sometimes seems a bit over the edge, I absolutely realize the necessity for it. But sometimes it feels good just to rant and rave a bit! But for some reason, I just don’t feel that the price I pay for my ticket equals the services I receive from the carrier. And those prices seem to increase on an all too regular basis. Why? Have the price of Coke and micro-mini pretzels escalated so much that they need to add on an extra $50.00 to my ticket price? I guess they just blame it all on the price of oil. It works for them but not always for me.

I’m off to pack for my flight! I’m going to do my best to enjoy it, despite all the rigors and exorbitant costs of flying today. I’ll try not to get “confiscated”!

(Ahhh, the good old days! They start tomorrow!)


  1. got a great laugh out of your rant! everything you say is oh so true! i remember when my mom and dad would visit us they would always dress up, suit for him, fancy dress for her. i've always been a bit more casual, comfort is more important than dressing up. but one can be comfortable and neat and clean. i've flown next to some people who smelled so bad i had to ask to move to another seat. unfortunately, there was not always a seat available-yuck!

    hope you enjoy you trip, wherever you are going. hope to hear all about it soon.

    teresa in lake stevens

  2. Sadly flying has become an ordeal to be endured, not a pleasure to be enjoyed. The one thing I really dread about our annual vacations is having to fly anywhere. It is without a doubt one of the most unpleasant experiences to have to put up with. Sad, isn't it?

  3. I actually had a good deal of fun on my recent flights. The worst thing that happened was boredom.

  4. My father in law used to work for Pan Am and it was always his pet peeve the way the current population dressed to fly. The young teens in their pj bottoms would really freak him out if he were alive today! Great rant, I really enjoyed it!