Air travel rant
I hate flying.
No, I'm not afraid of flying. I used to moonlight as a helicopter flight physician in the early 1990's and loved going up in the helicopter. I also had a chance to go out on a couple of organ harvest runs during my residency in which they used a Lear jet. Very nice. I just hate flying commercial these days. There are less and less seat space, fewer and fewer amenities, and more and more irritants. It's not even so much the increased security since September 11, 2001. I never much liked flying commercial, but it's definitely even worse these days.
Yesterday was just another fun day trying to get somewhere (in this case, to Anaheim).
It was a beautiful day. A perfect day. You'd think that there would be minimal chance of significant delays, and, indeed, when I arrived at the airport, the flight monitor listed my flight as "on time." Then, just before we were scheduled to board, there was an announcment that there would be a "maintenance delay" of around 40 minutes, which turned into over an hour.
OK, so far, no big deal, although the very term "maintenance delay" always sends a little chill down my spine. (What's wrong with the plane?) We did finally get on the plane and taxi towards the runway--only to sit there for a while and taxi back to the gate. The pilot announced that he wasn't perfectly happy with the readings. OK, fine. I like attention to detail and safety in a transcontinental flight. It's hard to complain too much about that. (It's not like I want to try to fly 2,500 miles in a plane that isn't in tip-top shape.) Such attention to maintenance is a good thing in an airline.
What wasn't such a good thing was the way they handled the situation after we had to deplane and wait. And wait. And wait. Two or three other flights to L.A. (our airline) took off while we were waiting, not counting other airlines. Few announcements were made, and our delay stretched to well over four hours. People were getting testy at the increasing delay, but even more at lack of information. A few first class passengers were quite incensed that they had been strung along so long, with no attempt to try to rebook them for one of the later flights that were leaving for L.A. from nearby gates. (One of these guys, with his gold watch and chain, was a bit of an arrogant twit, but I had to admit that he did have a point.) Also, given that the airport we were at is one of the biggest hubs for this airline, I was wondering why the airline couldn't come up with a different plane. I was just considering seeing if I could get on a very early morning flight the next day and then heading home, when they finally let us board. At least they did give us vouchers for free drinks and a discount card for future flights. Yippee.
Fortunately, the flight itself was uneventful, but baggage claim at LAX is really annoying, and there was a huge line to pick up a rental care where I had reserved one, and then I still had to face the 35 mile drive to Anaheim from the airport. (Nothing like navigating the freeways of an unfamiliar city at night, trying to find your way.) Fortunately, I had gotten Mapquest directions before leaving. Also fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon your view of these things), there was a Burger King right next to the car rental place. I stopped there, got a slider, and chowed on it while driving. At least I found a really cool radio station to listen to during the ride; the DJ was playing everything from punk to surf musing to Velvet Underground. By the time I got to the hotel, it was close to 11:30 PM local time (or 2:30 AM "my" time). Fortunately, the hotel didn't lose my reservation, which would have made this the perfect travel experience. Even worse, I ran into a woman whose flights had been delayed twelve hours. Geez, I couldn't even claim the only good thing about a horrendous travel experience--the right to bitch about it and have people who have also come to the meeting acknowledge it as the worst.
As you can see, Orac is a bit cranky right now. Not as cranky as the Cranky Badger, but at least he's in Anaheim. With such an inauspicious start, I hope the meeting goes better.
Thus endeth the rant.