The flights of the infrequent passenger

Children flying in the middle of the night are cranky.

United_planeDuring the second week of July, I flew from Albany, NY to San Diego, CA and back. I had not been on a plane since May 2009, when my daughter and I took round-trip flights to Charlotte, NC, via LaGuardia, NYC to attend my niece Alex’s high school graduation. This time, I went to help out my sister Leslie after her bicycle accident on June 4. This will be a transportation report; I’ll write about the medical situation soon.

Because my understanding the flying landscape is nil, I got to the ALB airport a couple hours early. I paid for a checked bag (why was it $35 out, but $25 back?) because I don’t know how to pack for five or six days with carry-on bags.

I was surprised to discover that I was designated for TSA PreCheck line for the flights in both direction, which is “a U.S. government program that allows travelers deemed low-risk… to pass through an expedited security screening at certain U.S. airports. Qualifying travelers don’t have to remove their belts, shoes or lightweight jackets.”

How that this happen? I didn’t sign up for it, and I’m hardly a frequent flyer. They must have determined I’m no longer a likely terrorist.

It turned out that the plane to Newark was about 75 minutes late. I had some cushion, but I was starting to think I was going to have to run through the next airport. Some guy flying from Newark to Minneapolis was apoplectic, giving the United representative grief continually.

In both legs of the flight out, and my return trip from San Diego, I had a window seat in rows 25 to 35. My shin was right up against the seat in front of me. And the toilet was tinier than I recalled.

Children flying in the middle of the night are cranky, based on one boy deplaning in Chicago wanting his mommy though she was right there, and one girl at O’Hare who couldn’t get her tablet (which was the size of her head) to work, so her mother took it away and the girl wailed so loudly she could be heard four gates away, no exaggeration.

Odd thing about the flight from Chicago to Albany. I was in row 10, on the left aisle, two rows behind first class, and my knees didn’t reach the seat in front of me. Joy, seriously! On the opposite side, some tall guy, definitely over six and a half feet tall, stuck in the middle seat, had an app that told him that there was an aisle seat in row 35 of that plane that was available.

But the flight attendant said he’d have be even less legroom. Do the legroom is less the further back you’re seated?

Then the guy on the right aisle got bumped up to first class, allowing the tall guy to move to the aisle seat. Did the flight attendant facilitate that? Je ne sais pas, but the lucky passenger in first class seemed pleasantly surprised, and tall guy was relieved.

The worst thing about flying east is that it took me three or four days to catch up on my sleep. It’s almost never a problem flying west three time zones, but it’s almost always an issue on the return flight.