Friday, September 25, 2009

High Flying Blues

by Pa Rock
Airport Lurker

This week I was a passenger on four airplanes in just two days, and fought my way through three different airports two times each. I stepped through metal detectors in two states, consumed airport food on the run, and read a hundred pages or so of Lord of the Rings from about seven miles in the air. I munched complimentary pretzels and washed them down with complimentary tomato juice - heading east - and complimentary diet coke - heading west.

This week four people showed me how to fasten my seat belt and cautioned me to get my own oxygen mask on before trying to help anyone else. Those same four people explained to me that the airplane seats are easily removable and can function as flotation devices - never mind that we would be crossing no water.

I learned way too much about weight and balance issues at the Lubbock Airport as we shuffled people from seat to seat, and off the plane and back on, in order to get the craft to where it could fly. I commiserated with my seat mate as he watched his baggage being removed from the plane in order to lessen the weight.

I am learning way too much about America's airports. I can find where they hide the sandwich bags at Skyharbor in Phoenix, where not to buy drinks at Kansas City International, the location of the absolute best airport food in Atlanta, the best stocked bookstores in several cities - especially Atlanta and Salt Lake City, and the handiest places to recharge computers.

I know the cheapest and best place to leave my car in Phoenix, and I have a stack of discount coupons to use at that garage. I know the places that are open for breakfast as I cross Phoenix in the dark for morning departures, and I know where to stop for a cold drink on the way home from the airport.

This year alone I have traversed the airports of Phoenix, Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Lubbock, San Antonio, Northwest Arkansas, Atlanta, Orlando, Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New York LaGuardia. I have been on twenty-six (I think) separate airplanes, and will be on four more in December. I guess that it would have been a really good year to get registered for airline miles. Maybe next year I will!

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