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Column for 1.11.12
Last week - Thursday to Sunday - I was a passenger on four airplanes. All were Boeing 737s, all belonged to Southwest.
From Albany the flights were to Baltimore and then Austin. On the way back it was over to Orlando and then up to Albany. My view of Baltimore and Orlando was limited to what could be seen from a terminal window.
Some random airport/airplane thoughts and observations:
One great thing about air travel is escaping the day to day routine. In the terminal I can people watch or hangout at the bookstore or watch the football game or have a beer, even if itís a little early in the day.
By the way, $6 is too much to charge for a beer, and $10 is too much for a ham and cheese sandwich.
On the aircraft I can read or watch a movie or listen to music or think. I canít really be expected to get anything productive done. After all, Iím on an airplane. I might even take a nap and not feel guilty about it.
Iíve flown enough to know that my book, music, sweater, tissues, headphones or anything else I might need during the flight had better be in a place reachable from my seat.
Some frequent flyers are sleeping, reading or doing something to pass the time as the airplane rolls down the runway. Not me. Iím paying attention. Iím in awe of what is happening.
Despite being filled with thousands of pounds of gasoline, 150 people and baggage, that airplane is in the air within seconds and a minute or two later is passing through 10,000 feet and shortly thereafter at a cruising altitude of 30,000 plus feet. Yes, it is all science, math and physics, but it seems miraculous. I hope I never lose the awe of flying.
The captain on the flight from Albany to Baltimore was an attractive woman. I know, I know. It is politically incorrect to point out that the captain is a female. The flight deck has been a place for female pilots for so long that I shouldnít make note of it when I see one. But Iím old enough to remember when that wasnít the case. The only flight crew job for a woman back then was as a stewardess. Back in the day they were called stews.
On the flight over to Austin I saw someone place a cellphone in their seatback pocket. I cringe when I see this. Seatback pockets are great places to put something and then forget about it. I still remember the partially read thriller I once left in a seatback pocket. I had to buy the book a second time so I could finish it.
It continues to amaze me that someone will divulge personal aspects of their life to strangers in airports or on airplanes.
In the Orlando airport there was a gentleman waiting for a flight to New Orleans at the gate next to mine. In less than 10 minutes I learned that he was in Orlando visiting his three young children, that he was divorced from a woman he should never have married because she was ďmuch too young,Ē that she was still making his life miserable, and that she had a live in boyfriend. I also learned that the New Orleans fellow had a live in girlfriend more his age and that she didnít like him going to Orlando to see his ex and the kids.
Had he not boarded the New Orleans flight, I can only imagine what other things I would have learned. Iíll never see him again, of course, which is why people feel free to talk to strangers at airports and on airplanes.