It’s 1:45 in the afternoon and here I sit, in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport, American Airlines Terminal B, to be specific. Back in the days when I was a regular business traveler, I was a member of the Admirals Club, a private lounge for American Airlines travelers willing to pay a hefty fee … in dollars or miles. The Club has comfortable seating, private working areas, and snacks … plus sandwiches and drinks for a price. If I was stuck with a three hour layover … like I have today … it was better than sitting at the gate. Quieter, for one, at least until business travelers starting bringing their kids along. Today, I am sitting at a counter with USB ports in the Gate B5 waiting area. I have no special attachment to gate B5 but there are no flight scheduled for the next several hours so it is relatively quiet. For about ten minutes, the alarm on an employees-only door kept going off, a high pitched squeal that leaves my teeth vibrating. Desperate for power for my laptop, I waited it out. A speaker on the ceiling over my head is prattling on about the madhouse that has become our national government. It is only slightly less annoying than the alarm. Terminal B mostly serves American Airlines secondary routes … like those to Huntsville, where I’m headed, so in front of me passengers trickle by in ones and twos, hunting for their departure gates or talking quietly. Even with occasional gate change announcements, it’s not a bad place to write, especially when there’s nothing else to do. It’s not the Admirals Club, for sure, but it’s better than the madhouse in terminal A, where I arrived from Socal.
Posted tagged ‘flying’
It’s Friday and I’m flying again. There was a time that meant business, very likely in Washington, D.C. At this stage of my life, flying usually means vacation or visiting family. Today, the destination is Salt Lake City to see our grandkids (and their parents … it’s a package deal). If you’ve been a reader for a while, you know air travel is a challenge for my Inner Curmudgeon. It has three of the things he hates: waiting (especially in lines) and confined spaces packed with people and their cell phones. And the worst thing, small cadres of business folks traveling together, compelled to have loud business meetings in the airport lounges … or worse, in the row behind me on the aircraft. (more…)
I discovered this old post, originally posted in 2010, by accident as I was reviewing the similar posts WordPress inserted at the bottom of yesterday’s post, Yakkers. It is the perfect combination of common sense and curmudgeon for a Throwback Thursday.
This morning, waiting in the aisle of Southwest Flight 931 to choose my seat, I was talking with a man from San Antonio I’d met in the boarding area. We were both experienced business travelers exchanging … as experienced business travelers do … stories of cities visited and flights endured. The flight attendant, who appeared to be almost as old as I am … remember when they were all young and glamorous? … probably not … was giving her full flight speech. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very full flight. There is limited overhead space for carry-on luggage, so please place any items such as computer bags, cameras, coats or hats under the seat in front of you. As she was finishing, the man in front of me stuffed his computer bag into a partially full bin and farther down the aisle, a woman was doing the same with her coat and purse. My temporary traveling companion and I just looked at each other and laughed. (more…)
I am flyng again. At the moment, the interactive map on the video screen at my seat tells me I am over Juarez, New Mexico. I am bound to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, hoping to catch a tight connection to Huntville AL for a two day business meeting. It looks like I land in one terminal and depart from another, so I may have some running through the airport to do. Truth: at my age, it will be fast walking, especially with my computer bag over my shoulder. I’m on the aisle in the 13th row, not First Class but not the worst seat on the plane either. Most of the passengers are reading or playing whatever on their assorted electronic devices, which is good … no loud talkers. The only annoyance is the very large guy in front of me who keeps shifting in his seat and pushing against the backrest so hard that he almost spills my Diet Coke. Me? I’m writing and listening to my jazz playlist in shuffle mode … Keiko Matsui Walls of Akendora, at the moment. The Captain just said, We are beginning our descent into Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Please return to your seats and be sure your seatbelts are fastened, which means 40 more minutes in the air. He says there are storms in the area so the descent could be bumpy.
I used to travel once or twice a month and I liked being in touch with my professional community. I enjoyed working on teams addressing real technical problems and I enjoyed giving presentations on our work. These days, the work is still interesting but I don’t need to be a shaker and a mover anymore. It makes my bones rattle and my joints hurt. But here I am at 34,000 feet, listening to the music I love, posting on my blog. I’ll text Muri when I land and hook up with my colleagues for the flight to Huntsville. We’ll finally get to see what our customer thinks of our work. If I had my druthers, I would be at home. As my wife Muri and I have grown older, we like to be in shouting distance of each other, not that we do much shouting. We do occasionally text each other from or respective enclaves, hers the love seat in our bedroom and me in my recliner downstairs. Yes, I’d rather be doing that. But for a couple days I can pretend to move and shake like I used to. I can even smile about it. It is, after all, Monday.
There was a time when I flew coast to coast almost every month, which made it a good thing that, for the most part, I enjoyed being Up in the Air. Yes, it helped that with so many flights on Ameican Airlines came Aadvantage miles which allowed me to fly first class most of the time. Some of the other airborne annoyances, like loud, inebriated businessmen or First Class chatterboxes were mitigated by my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones and my favorite playlists in the mp3 player I always kept in my briefcase. I’ve always liked the window seat because I find the world spread out beneath me, five miles or so down, awe inspiring. I found I could get a lot of work … or reading … or writing done to the tune of my favorite music. I’ve made some important decisions at 30,000 feet. I’d look at people doing absolutely nothing for a six hour flight and wonder, How the heck can they do that? The best in-flight song ever is, in my opinion, Derek and the Dominos’s Layla, by the way. I’d love to know yours if you have one. I suppose most people don’t have favorite in-air songs. (more…)
I used to be a Frequent Flyer. At least once a month I’d board a plane in Orange County, CA, headed east, usually to Washington, D.C. or to Hartford, Connecticut … sometimes both. I almost always flew American Airlines and accumulated over 2 million frequent flyer miles. I’d accumulate miles so fast that I never flew coach, nor did Muri and I when we traveled for pleasure. That is very easy to get used to, especially the free drinks and wine. I’d sometimes find myself flying in more ways than one. I became somewhat of an airport elitist, annoyed by those who held up airport lines because they didn’t know what they were supposed to do or because they were dragging along a gaggle of noisy kids. I used my frequent flyer miles to join the Admiral’s Club where I could hide out with other airport elitists … and I complained loudly when some of them began to bring their noisy kids to the Club. They even began to use their miles to bring the kids into first class. The nerve. But the truth is, once I was airborne, I enjoyed flying. I never got tired of looking out the window, seeing this lovely country of ours from 30,000 feet and sights like a moon reflected on the great lakes or a lightning storm seen from above. I found that I worked better, wrote better and thought better at altitude, and if some noisy kid or loud inebriated businessman bothered me, well, there was always my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones and Layla played loud enough to drown them out.
This morning, waiting in the aisle of Southwest Flight 931 to choose my seat, I was talking with a man from San Antonio I’d met in the boarding area. We were both experienced business travelers exchanging … as experienced business travelers do … stories of cities visited and flights endured. The flight attendant, who appeared to be almost as old as I am … remember when they were all young and glamorous? probably not … was giving her full flight speech. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a very full flight. There is limited overhead space for carry-on luggage, so please place any items such as computer bags, cameras, coats or hats under the seat in front of you. As she was finishing, the man in front of me stuffed his computer bag into a partially full bin and farther down the aisle, a woman was doing the same with her coat and purse. My temporary traveling companion and I just looked at each other and laughed. (more…)