Sunday, April 17, 2005

Air travel rant

Well, I'm finally in Anaheim, and let me just say one thing.

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.

10 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 4/17/2005 3:38 PM, Blogger Dreaming again said...

Glad you made it safely even if cranky.

Did you send your grand rounds submission in to grrlscientist yet? Or did you get too busy this week?

(just trying to help her out by plugging it where I can (grin) she needs more submissions)

So .. anyone reading this ... send your submissions for grand rounds to grrlscientist@yahoo.com
by tomrrow! She needs them! Sooner better than later.

 

At 4/17/2005 8:57 PM, Blogger Socialist Swine said...

Orac,

Next time you have to fly try a Canadian airline. Air Canada provides much larger seats than Delta, United, or American Airlines. It costs you a little more and the exchange rates are less friendly towards you guys than they once were, but I think you'll appreciate the comfort. Also, I find that the Air Canada aircraft are cleaner on the inside than those of other airlines I've flown in.

 

At 4/17/2005 8:58 PM, Blogger Socialist Swine said...

P.S. Also LAX is the world's second crappiest airport (only Pearson in Toronto is worse from my experience) that could have added to your general dissatisfaction with your travel experience.

 

At 4/18/2005 9:22 AM, Blogger HaloJonesFan said...

Thank the government's decision to subsidize Boeing during the fifties. By giving preferential treatment to airlines with higher passenger-mile statistics, they made it desirable to operate giant cattle-cars, which (of course) Boeing was happy to design and build. And, conveniently enough, military transports and long-range bombers use the same design principles as widebody airliners...

 

At 4/18/2005 9:54 AM, Blogger Orac said...

Thanks, all. I'm less cranky now, after a decent meeting (so far) and a good meal at Mr. Stox last night...

 

At 4/18/2005 10:11 AM, Blogger GrrlScientist said...

JetBlue Rewls! Glad you made it in one piece.

GrrlScientist

 

At 4/19/2005 2:30 AM, Anonymous The Cranky Badger said...

I'm glad you're less cranky. That way I can have "cranky" all to myself.

 

At 4/19/2005 3:25 AM, Blogger Orac said...

Don't worry. I'm sure I'll find something new to be cranky about...

 

At 4/19/2005 3:56 PM, Blogger Radagast said...

Welcome to my neck of the woods :)

Next time you fly to Anaheim, you might try one of the other airports in the LA area. John Wayne (Santa Ana) is closer to Anaheim, and is a much smaller, and more convenient, airport than LAX. However, it's also a bit harder, and usually more expensive, to get flights there. Long Beach is also close to Anaheim, and it's even a JetBlue destination.

 

At 4/19/2005 7:14 PM, Blogger Orac said...

I'll certainly consider it, but there aren't any conferences scheduled to be held in the L.A. area that I'm likely to go to for the next couple of years (that I'm aware of). I doubt I'll be back for a while.

 

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