On this trip, it was about the destination, definitely not the journey

The best thing about my 5-hour+ flight from Panama City to Washington, D.C., was the surprise of actually being served a free (!) meal.

I didn’t know any airlines served free meals in economy class anymore.

airline food

That’s the brilliance of lowering our expectations: Modern airlines get kudos when they serve you a tiny portion of microwaved chicken chow mein and the flight attendant sounds generous when she offers you soy sauce.

Does it sound like I’m complaining?

You bet.

I returned Sunday from a truly wonderful 9-day vacation where I enjoyed decadent food, interesting sight-seeing and 90-degree temps. I might share more about my vacation later, but today I’m bellyaching.

Modern airline seats are the equivalent of egg crate packaging, the TSA is populated with officers whose idea of a higher calling is well-organized security bins and Dulles International Airport is a madman’s idea of a human maze experiment.

Room with a view … of the top of someone’s head

My center seat on Copa Airlines’ Boeing 737-700 was defined by SeatGuru as being 17-inches wide. My butt is 17 inches wide, but I didn’t get my allotted 17 inches because I was literally wedged in between my broad-shouldered 6-foot stepson and 6-foot-3 husband.

SeatGuru also lists my seat as having a 31-inch pitch. I’m 5-foot-10, and the distance from my back to my kneecaps is 26 inches. Considering the thickness of the seat itself, that means I had less than 2 inches of play.

Until the empress in the seat in front of me reclined her seatback.

Yes, we dissented. Loudly. We weren’t polite.

The jerks in front of us actually called the flight attendant when we pushed back. The empress’ husband had the gall to say, “These seats, they are very small” as some sort of explanation for why he demanded to invade our space with his noggin. No doubt, Sherlock. The seats are very small, which is why I don’t want you in my already ridiculously limited space.

The flight attendant called for compromise. “Can he recline a little?”

Why do airlines still make seats that recline?

I did not, for the record, recline my seatback into the face of the poor guy behind me, who was in the last row right in front of the bathroom where he didn’t have the option of reclining.

So I ate my amazing chicken chow mein with my elbows pinned to my sides and from beneath the seatback in front of me.

I haven’t even mentioned the screaming brat across the aisle, the turbulence and the line for the bathroom.

Could I have gotten to Panama City for $564 in a more comfortable way? Probably not. But I don’t have to have liked it.

Safe, secure and dry … very dry

I walked through no fewer than 10 metal detectors during my journey.

We discarded or guzzled at least bottles of water because now terrorists have figured how to combine H2O with Paul Mitchell shampoo and blow up airplanes. What else explains the confiscation of half-full water bottles at the gate security check point?

Upon our return to the United States, we had to go through not one but two security checkpoints where one officer asked me to move my carry-on literally two inches so it wouldn’t be intruding on the imaginary line between “insecure” and “secure.” Some idiot managed to smuggle a 16-ounce bottle of shampoo through the first security checkpoint but was caught (thank goodness) at the second one.

They confiscated his shampoo and thoroughly embarrassed him. But let him fly.

I really don’t get it. If the shampoo really were dangerous, why would they let the would-be terrorist continue on his journey?

And then (and then!), I watched as a woman and her tiny-bladdered child who had already been through the checkpoint duck under the very barrier I had so menacingly invaded with my carry-on. No one stopped her or even noticed because the officers were so preoccupied with bottles of impotent liquid! What if she had shampoo in that kid’s diapers!

Who put the ‘dull’ in Dulles?

Though I was once a platinum frequent flier, I don’t ever recall visiting the fine airport of Dulles International in Washington, D.C.

Saturday night (or possibly early Sunday morning), I actually got to sleep there. Lucky me. That’s what I get for trying to save $300. A 7-hour layover in the middle of the night.

Oh, how I longed for home. At that point, I was 20 hours into what would end up being a 28-hour journey from the door of my room on the cruise ship at port in Colon, Panama, to my front door nestled in the mostly snow-free corn fields of northern Illinois.

Navigating that perplexing airport with the fuzzy frame of mind caused by sleeping in chairs was no picnic. I almost killed my Beloved when I shrieked while looking at the gate monitors. “We’re going the wrong way!” He was ahead of me, three steps down a moving two-story escalator, and he nearly ended it all trying to return to the top.

Whatever. We went the wrong way anyway.

I still don’t understand the map in the terminal train, but a helpful fellow traveler pointed out how to escape the interminable Terminal B loop and get to Terminal C. After having shot back-and-forth three times between Nowhere and Terminal B, I wanted to poke my eyes out with the blunt end of a pencil.

Fortunately, I had a bottle of water with me. And you know how dangerous water bottles can be.


2 responses to “On this trip, it was about the destination, definitely not the journey

  1. I don’t mind all the security, but I despise the environment on the planes. And the behavior of people. Just because a seat reclines, doesn’t mean you should recline it! On our recent (and long) back to back flights, the person in front of me reclined all the way, right away. Basically laying in my lap. On one leg of our flight the seat in front of me was broken, so it reclined EVEN MORE than it was supposed to. How do I know this? Cuz I stared at it, incredulous, for the whole 5 hours while the guy in front of me relaxed and slept. And inevitably when the flight is over and we stand up…the person sitting in front of me and reclining the whole way is shorter than I am. I always look behind me. If it’s a child…I might recline. Might. Fully grown human? Nope. We’re living in a society here people! 🙂

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