M. Giant's
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Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks


Sunday, February 05, 2006  

Travel-ugh

Thursday evening, I was flying to Michigan for one day. One of the things I hate most about flying in winter is the issue of what to do with my coat. I wear this giant, wool, Dickensian overcoat that, with me in it, is roughly the size of a phone booth. Not really compatible with an airplane seat, exit row or no. It's barely compatible with an overhead luggage compartment. It's fine when I'm flying someplace warm and I can just leave it at home, but not so much when I'm going someplace that's as cold in winter as it is here and it has to come with me.

And then on Thursday the gate agent comes over the loudspeaker with those magic words, "completely full flight," which generally means "every inch of overhead space between the nose cone and the tail fin is going to be packed tighter than an aerosol can before you even step on the plane," and I groaned inwardly. But then I remembered what was in my suitcase: one change of clothes, a Ziploc bag of toiletries, and a laptop. I folded up my coat down to the size of a vacuum cleaner, rolled up my ten-foot scarf, stuffed both into my suitcase, and congratulated myself on my incredible cleverness.

But then I changed planes at O'Hare and discovered that, since I was completing my trip on Buddy Holly Airlines, the dinky little craft I was going to be riding over Lake Michigan didn't have room for any normal-sized suitcases in its carry-on bins. So I had to check it at the jetway.

And then wait for it at the foot of the jetway in Flint. In case you live in a warm climate and don't know this, most airports don't bother heating their jetways, no matter how cold the icy wind blowing off the Great Lakes may be. So waiting the ten minutes for the baggage handlers to unload our carry-on bags was a rather chilly experience, and one that didn't make me feel clever at all.

At least I'd held onto my laptop so that I could do revisions on my recap during the fifteen- and twenty-minute chunks of time that one is allowed to use portable electronic devices on a three-hour, two-leg flight. Like last time, I purposely hadn't brought any entertaining reading material along to distract me. That's what inflight magazines and SkyMall are for, after all. You pick one up, and have no trouble shoving it back in the pocket when you reach 10,000 feet. Except this month's magazine had a couple of articles that were a) written by someone I kind of know and b) interesting. I wasn't quite done when we pulled into the gate at Flint, but I figured I'd grab one on my way home. Forgetting, of course, that my return trip was on a different airline. Oops.

By the way, thanks, Different Airline. Theoretically, I had a lot more time to do revisions on my return flight, because this time I was changing planes in...wait for it...Atlanta. Thanks, other airline, for schlepping me to a hub that's twice as far away as my actual destination. Of course I would have liked to call up Al to see if she'd meet me for a drink, but I would have had to buy her a plane ticket to get her past the security checkpoint, and then we'd have to chug our beers while walking from gate C37 to C21, and I don't think they let you do that. I had about five minutes to charge up my laptop before the final boarding call, and then the battery died during boot-up about 11,000 feet over northern Georgia anyway. At least I hadn't lost any work.

On the other hand, I refer you to a couple of paragraphs previous, where I mentioned that I hadn't brought any reading material to entertain myself. Having already exhausted the entertainment possibilities of Other Airline's in-flight magazine (which absolutely none of you contributed to, you losers), I was looking down the barrel of two hours of forced idleness before wheels-down.

One of the scariest dreams I've ever had was a nightmare wherein I was about to get on a fourteen-hour flight to Iceland without a damn thing to read. I'll take the naked/late/not-ready-for-the-final dream over that any time (and frequently have). And now here I was, looking at two hours of nothing to do, with no chance of waking up and (as has been previously documented in this space) even less chance of falling asleep. I didn't even have headphones.

So I just replayed Green Day's American Idiot in my head from memory. That should have killed an hour, but I came up a few minutes short thanks to not being able to remember a few passages, and also on account of completely spacing "Letterbomb." I was only about six tracks into The Who's Tommy (thanks to the sweet, sweet distractions of the beverage service and some scary-ass turbulence) when I spotted Des Moines out the far window and mentally tracked our progress for the rest of the trip. Yes, I had the best intentions of spending this time polishing my recap to a shiny jewel, but it just didn't work out. Next time I'll bring back-up entertainment.

Another thing I won't do? Tell myself it's clever to stuff my overcoat in my carry-on. Other Airline wouldn't let me bring it on either plane. By the time I was standing on the open tarmac next to the rickety little wind-up jet in Minneapolis (something that never happens), in twelve-degree weather, riffling through the luggage cart with shirtsleeved arms that were quickly freezing into useless stumps, I was feeling downright stupid.

Today's best search phrase: "My toddler can read blog." Too bad, I'm not going to quit swearing.

posted by M. Giant 7:08 PM 6 comments

6 Comments:

Layers...dress in layers, they are your friend and can be used as a pillow for the nap you might need to take. Besides.... you Midwest types don't like to wear coats.
I knew I had lived here too long when my dad yelled at me for not wearing my coat in 35 degree weather back home in NYC. I wanted to explain to him that this was sort of balmy compared to the -5 windchill we were currently experiencing at home in NE.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 5, 2006 at 10:46 PM  

I randomed across you and promptly put you into my bloglines.com feedreader thingie. Thought you might like to know I'm there. :P

By Anonymous Gngr, at February 6, 2006 at 6:49 AM  

Ugh, I have the long-flight-no-reading-material dream ALL the freaking time. In mine, I always forget to bring Xanax, too. I have a terrible fear of flying. Reading this entry made me break out in a cold sweat!

By Anonymous Solange, at February 6, 2006 at 8:54 AM  

I also have that nightmare of being on a flight with nothing to read. I compensate by bringing an over abundance of reading materials (lIke 3 months of New Yorkers) which weigh my bag down considerably but are well worth it. Plane rides are one of the few times I reserve exclusively for reading. (unfortunately.

By Anonymous theresa, at February 6, 2006 at 9:49 AM  

Totally random: my husband pulled out an Alaska Airlines in-flight mag out of his backpack tonight saying, "There was an article in here on blogs that I thought you might want to read, so I kept the magazine."
I'd be happy to mail said magazine to you if you'd like it. One small way to show my appreciation of your blog!
smithl98052[at]yahoo[dot]com

By Anonymous Leah in Seattle, at February 6, 2006 at 11:28 PM  

Was this the article you were talking about?

http://americanwaymag.com/aw/lifestyle/feature.asp?archive_date=2/1/2006

By Anonymous Lalaine, at February 8, 2006 at 11:42 AM  

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