Posts Tagged ‘airplanes’

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.

An article in Forbes notes that “nine states will no longer allow travelers to board an airplane with just their state issued driver’s licenses as of January 22, 2018. To get past TSA security checkpoints, another form of identification will be required: passport, permanent resident card/green card or a military ID.”

The states are Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington.

However, this map from the Department of Homeland Security suggests that more than half the states, plus Puerto Rico and all of the territories, are under scrutiny. These include California, Illinois, and New York by 2020 at the latest, if their drivers’ licenses aren’t compliant.

“DHS is currently reviewing extension requests from states with extensions that expired on October 10, 2017… In the meantime, there will be no change in enforcement status for these states. States will have a grace period until January 22, 2018, meaning that Federal agencies (including TSA) will continue to accept driver’s license and identification cards issued by these states in accordance with each agency’s policies.”

As it turns out, I always travel on planes and trains with my passport, which doesn’t expire until 2020. It HAS come in handy. I looked at it recently and realized I had stuck a rarely-used credit card and a $5 bill in there. The Wife’s passport expires when mine does, but the Daughter’s has lapsed, and we need to fix that.

This has been all part of a preparedness mentality the last few years of disasters has created. We have a manual can opener because the power can go out. We need to replace our bottled water; I assume they feel the plastic will leak into the beverage.

That said, I’m thinking that living in upstate New York isn’t the worst place to be. It’s not prone to wildfires (western US) or hurricanes (mostly south of here) or flooding or tornadoes (Midwest) or drought.

break-cigarettesSome months ago, Mark Evanier wrote about the bad old days, when smoking allowed on most airplanes. He linked to a New York Times article, What Flying Was Like Before the Smoke Cleared, which was terrible, especially for the flight attendants.

I wrote in this blog some years ago: “Airplanes used to have smoking and non-smoking sections. I remember sitting in row 22, the last non-smoking row. Wouldn’t you know that the smoke did not have the courtesy to go back from row 23, but instead wafted forward?”

Still, here’s a story about a smoker I did feel just a little sorry for:
Read the rest of this entry »

NewsMusing on what passes for news these days, I was taken by this story: The distorting reality of ‘false balance’ in the media. It’s saying, essentially, that if you have two people on the news debating whether the Earth is round or flat, you unnecessarily elevate the flat earth argument to be equivalent.

I haven’t written much about either the awful shootdown of Malaysian flight or the Israel-Gaza war, other than I found it depressing as all get out. (What does “depressing as all get out” mean? Read the rest of this entry »

malaysia-airlinesMy daughter, who’s almost 10, was watching the news with me the other day when the story about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 came on. She is a compassionate person. Yet she winced, “Oh, no, not again.” She hasn’t done that with stories about GM recalls, or other multi-day stories.

Maybe it’s because the news outlets feel an obligation to cover it, but, far too often, they really don’t have a heck of a lot to SAY. Read the rest of this entry »

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