Tag Archives: Air Travel

Pack Attack

Travel often aggravates the phobias we accumulate along life’s journeys.

Football commentator John Madden and many others fear flying, which is known as aerophobia. Others avoid travel in automobiles (ochophobia) or trains (siderodromophobia). Some even fear long words (hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia).

However, I’ve never encountered a term for my own neurosis, the “pack attack.”

My husband does not understand why the sight of a suitcase gives me the shakes.

What could you expect of a man who not only survives, but thrives on taking brown pants, two brown shirts and brown shoes? For fashion excitement, he adds a beige cardigan.

I like brown, too. But which brown will suit my mood tomorrow? Sepia, sienna or russet sweater? Raw or burnt umber toothbrush? So, I bring all my browns.

No wonder my dearly beloved struggles to understand. The man’s wardrobe controls the weather. If he forgets an umbrella, The Weather Channel calls a halt to all thunderstorms within 500 miles of our destination.

My packing paranoia asks, “What if?” I can’t leave city limits unless my suitcase contents cover every climate emergency ranging from a Tallahassee Ice Age to an Indianapolis volcanic eruption.

When we visit grandchildren, my entire wardrobe must be available. As long as Grandpa packs a separate bag, his clothes rarely suffer from baby body fluids. Let him share a suitcase with me, though, and a pee-a-thon — and worse — ensues. Although his preference for brown covers a multitude of sins ….

I marvel how his clothes mysteriously collapse into packets that could fit into a billfold. Once, when I foisted snow boots and my lumpy body armor bathing suit onto his bag, they promptly folded themselves into hankies.

Inspections present the ultimate torture for travelers who suffer pack attacks. Not only do strangers unwrap our Christmas gifts and wave our oversized undies like flags, they risk the entire terminal’s safety. One flip of a suitcase latch, one zzzzzip! — and my bag explodes. Shoes fly like missiles, and hundreds in line suddenly wear my wardrobe. On the positive side, they can expect lots of fashion variety.

When inspected, I miss my plane. My husband, who dashes for the gate before anyone knows we’re together, always makes it.

Airline carriers should offer therapy — and marriage counseling — for travelers in airports. They’d never go bankrupt.

Sessions for luggage also might be in order. My suitcase flips and flops like an angry two-year-old as I drag it through the terminal. It attempts to steal other bags’ identity. It tries to get lost when I travel.

I should send it to luggage obedience school.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll send it packing.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you suffer from pack attacks? Does your spouse?

Cheap Flight Delights

I often spend considerable time, energy and money to procure cheap flights.

Spend cash to keep the ticket price down?

Of course. To finance my last trip to see my father, I acquired 17 new credit cards. Sure, purchasing matching paisley appliances and a lawn-mowing robot named Bubba upped my debt totals. But the rewards points earned me an all-expenses-paid flight to beautiful, fragrant Monroe, Louisiana, the paper-mill-ambiance capital of the world.

Some might assume I took a red-eye or predawn flight. Instead, my creative itinerary kept the price in sync with my points: Indianapolis to Detroit to Memphis to Monroe. The underlying principle: Increased Distance Equals Lower Costs. Strange that this principle never pans out when I drive. Picking up dry cleaning in Marion, Indiana, I do not take a route through Salt Lake City. But those Bobby-goes-40-miles-Billy-goes-30 story problems never made sense to me, either, so why question airline wisdom?

In Detroit, my jet balked at takeoff. We passengers waited three hours on the plane before mechanics declared it legally dead. The airline issued next-day tickets and vouchers for food and lodging. The hotel honored my hard-luck coupon with no charges. However, an airport Coke cost more than my six-dollar meal voucher allowed. Perhaps, given the Increased Distance Equals Lower Costs Principle, I should have hit a McDonald’s in Salt Lake City?

To avoid baggage fees, I had brought only a carry-on. When my cheap flight included a surprise overnight stay, I gave thanks for curling iron and fresh undies that surely would have been routed to Samoa, had I checked a bag through. However, if left with only laptop and breath mints, would I have received a new-clothes voucher? My seventeen credit cards and I would have gone shopping — accruing even more bonus rewards points!

The next day, my plane suffered no malady except overstuffed bags in its overhead bins. (We passengers measure carry-ons with the same accuracy we use in measuring calories.) Would some legalistic flight attendant strand me in Detroit forever? Instead, the guy not only jammed my duffle, telescopes and bass violins into upper compartments, he crammed in a passenger’s bison, tail and all.

We cheapskate passengers also refused to waste money on airline food, sharing snacks brought in a spirit of brotherhood, compassion and anti-cannibalism.

Avoiding rental car and parking costs, we’d asked friends and relatives to pick us up. I’d forgotten, however, that my octogenarian father would insist on driving us home. Had his cut-rate cataract surgery reduced his triple vision?

Or would my rewards trip to heaven come sooner than expected?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your all-time best travel deal?

Airport Insecurities

airport-1515448_640-2The more Homeland Security tries to protect me at airports, the less secure I feel.

I appreciate their efforts. But my mother taught me to hang undies on clotheslines behind shirts, not display them to an airport’s entire population.

Some passengers appear comfortable with security procedures. A toddler accompanying Daddy at check-in attempted a striptease.

A young man in a nearby security line entertained a similar viewpoint. Clad only in overalls, he suddenly slid out of them. Grinning as passengers and officials gawked, he ambled through X-ray, wearing skinny shorts he’d concealed underneath.

As if that little surprise weren’t enough, the Weird Wand Committee greeted me for the umpteenth time this year.

Airports never have put me at ease. The hallways always resemble a buffalo stampede. Paying more than air fare for coffee and a muffin made me see red long before Red Level threats ever existed.

peanut-butter-cups-1021876_640However, I can’t escape the worst threat to my security: me. At a newsstand, I heard REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups, like sirens, calling my name. Hypnotized, I answered — then put the candy down, determined not to blow my diet. I bought a newspaper and exited, playing human bumper cars on my way toward Security.

As I searched in my purse for ID and boarding pass, I discovered a REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup!

My evil stomach had bypassed my brain and shoplifted candy.

No alarms sang, rang or buzzed, no lights flashed when I walked out. No steel doors blocked store exits, no iron cages dropped from the ceiling. No soldiers poked bazookas in my back. Where was the FBI? the CIA? Interpol? What kind of security system allows a dangerously unbalanced chocolate/peanut butter klepto to run loose in our nation’s airports?

The peanut butter cup emitted seductive fragrances, and I nearly gave in. But I forced myself back to the store, where I set up surveillance. While the clerk scanned merchandise like a robot, I slithered in and hid behind half-price pink polka-dotted luggage, sneaking candy from my purse. Studying the National Enquirer’s front page (did you know Elvis is one of Donald Trump’s children?), I sneaked the REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup back among its own wicked kind. Then I headed for Security before my degenerate stomach could grab a dozen more.

They haven’t learned how to x-ray consciences yet, have they?

Okay, ’fess up: what’s your least favorite airport story?

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Pre-flight Meditations

airport-1543010_640O my God, riding a bicycle to the airport would have been faster than driving the interstates. Security officers searched me and my luggage again. And after tossing trash from my greasy airport breakfast, I realized I’d also tossed my boarding pass. … OMG, maybe You didn’t mean for us to fly?