Thursday, April 17, 2008

Travelin' Man

I've just returned from a relaxing few days in the mountains of North Carolina.

I really love to travel.

Except for the traveling part. I have never been a good traveler, dating back to my early days when the folks dragged the family all along the Eastern seaboard for "vacation."

As an adult, I have grown to abhor the act of traveling. I love being in new places, I just hate getting there. I'm proud to have visited 44 of these United States. And one day, I hope to visit Alaska and Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, and even Idaho and Montana.

But I know I'll hate every moment of getting there.

I have, for example, an irrational disgust for the strangers with whom I am traveling. Without fail, my seat mate on the plane or train or bus or subway is an obnoxious slug.

This most recent trip confirmed my opinions, though this time, my scorn must be heaped on the airline which ferried me hither and yon. I won't mention the name of the airline.

OK, here are its initials:

I have traveled this airline many times in the past, as for some reason known only by the gods who wish to torture me, US Air seems to be the most convenient airline for my needs.

I won't bore you with the gory details of my travails. Everybody who has flown in the last five years has a similar story, no matter which airline they used.

But here's the kicker. Even as service on the airlines becomes more and more absent, those same airlines are charging us more and more fees. It now costs an additional 25 bucks to check a second bag on most airlines. It now costs 2-3 dollars per bag to utilize the curbside check-in service. It now costs passengers in coach 7-10 smackers to purchase a meal on a trans-continental flight.

Those of us on shorter jumps are not even offered food, but rather a tiny packet labelled "Fiesta Snack Mix."

"Fiesta," my sombrero. Two miniature pretzels and five peanuts covered in BBQ powder do not a fiesta make.

And here's more. USAir has just announced that it will now begin charging their coach customers (victims, more like) an additional charge if they choose to sit on the aisle or the window near the front of the plane.

This is explained as yet another necessity to help pay for the rising cost of fuel. This claim would not be so ludicrous if I had not just witnessed the following. On my flight leaving DC National Airport, the pilot suddenly discovered that the plane was over weight. His solution: to burn fuel. So, the passengers sat on the tarmac for 20 minutes while the jet's engines roared at full throttle, filling the fuselage with noxious fumes and polluting the environment for absolutely no reason.

It's not wonder oil prices are skyrocketing. Pilots at USAir are burning off fuel to lessen their plane's weight.

Hasn't anybody heard of a hose and a syphon?

I have a better idea for those geniuses at USAir. Next time an airplane is over weight, rectify the situation by throwing my seat mate out the emergency exit. I guarantee that will take care of the problem.

She's always a fat slob.