Flying the unfriendly skies
A recent trip to Cleveland reminded me of how much I love air travel.
The plan was to fly from Hartford to Cleveland on a Wednesday and return on Friday. Naturally, there are no direct flights to Cleveland, or at least there weren’t when I wanted to go. So I had to book a flight connecting through Philadelphia, which at least was preferable to the other options of Atlanta, Charlotte and Buenos Aires.
I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, as is customary these days. The security checkpoint is always a dehumanizing experience. Remove all items from your pockets, along with your shoes (wear unholy socks), jacket and belt (in case you feel like strangling someone). Take any electronic items out of your briefcase to be sure they receive the most radiation possible.
A note to whoever designs men’s pants: Please stop sewing buttons into the bottom of the front pockets. These buttons show up as miniature explosive devices on the security screen, requiring the attendant to poke and prod you in places normally reserved for spouses and lap dancers.
Just before boarding the plane in Hartford, we were told that, because of the dainty nature of the aircraft, all carry-on luggage exceeding two pounds must be checked at the gate. Mine was among them. I didn’t drop off my bag at baggage check because I was afraid it would land in Sioux Falls and I’d be stuck either wearing the same clothes for three days or buying a temporary wardrobe. Sure enough, the overhead compartments were the size of a breadbox, and the seats were designed for no one larger than a Chinese gymnast. I’ve ridden in larger roadsters.
My flight left Hartford a few minutes late. We were 10th in line on the runway. Evidently, a lot of people want to get out of Hartford. The plane landed in Philly a few minutes later than scheduled, and everyone who checked a bag had to wait inside the gangplank while their bags were retrieved. I had exactly 30 minutes to make my connecting flight to Cleveland. Waiting 20 minutes for my bag erased any notion of making that flight.
“Cleveland?” asked the airport official at the connecting gate.
“Yes!” I blurted, almost out of breath.