Trunk Bay, St. John, U. S. Virgin Islands, is
one of the most beautiful places in the world. But is it worth
Why I don’t fly anymore
Our flights were on schedule in January, but somewhere between
Albuquerque and Atlanta, or Atlanta and Miami, or Miami and the
Caribbean dream vacation destination, my wife and I contracted
a nasty cold virus, and they lost our luggage. The change of planes
in Miami requires another walk through the gauntlet of airport
security. Lines were so long that you have to wonder why the terrorists
don’t just bomb the checkpoints like they do in Baghdad.
The return flight was delayed by a malfunctioning aircraft door,
causing us to miss the connecting flight out of Miami. This time
we were the ones spreading cold germs. American Airlines put us
up in one of those dreary airport hotels and gave us a $20 meal
voucher to spend on microwavable frozen dinners. There was no
restaurant near the hotel and we were both still too sick to go
looking for one. The next day’s flights got us home okay,
but they lost our luggage again.
We had a pretty good time in spite of it all, but it was a high
price to pay for a couple of weeks in paradise.
I vowed to stay out of airplanes for a while, but last month
felt compelled to visit my mom in Ohio, where she continues to
live independently in an old house on Lake Erie, dealing with
health issues and a seemingly endless winter. Mom needed a little
help with taxes and spring cleaning. Big brother reminded me that
it was my turn to go, and I wouldn’t have missed it for
The trip from Dallas to Ohio was on schedule. I was fortunate
to have missed the cancellation of hundreds of American Airlines
flights due to violations of electrical safety codes. My only
complaint was the way they cram passengers into those little American
Eagle jets. Don’t ever sit in the row window seat in front
of the emergency wing exit, because the seats don’t recline.
Sit next a skinny person.
Nobody coughed though, and I carried on all my luggage. I was
driving down the road in a rental car fifteen minutes after landing.
The flight back to Dallas was okay, too. Crammed into the little
seat, I drank a couple beers and read a book lent by a Republican
friend about how Muslims want to take over the world and kill
all the infidels. Light reading to pass the time, it seemed a
little far-fetched. If there were any Muslims on the plane, they
were friendly and smiling with the infidels. Life was good.
Things fell apart in Dallas when I noticed that fellow travelers
at the gate were no longer smiling. American Airlines had cancelled
all flights of their MD 80 aircraft, and airline agents told us
to get in line and wait to learn our fate. Other than the few
passengers still capable of outrage, most of us took it all in
stride and shared camaraderie laced with gallows humor. Three
hundred thousand pieces of luggage were temporarily lost. Mine
was in hand. Agents performed bravely. Apparently, the airline
or the FAA inspectors had bungled the previous week’s electrical
modifications. We were assured that we were never in any real
danger—it was just some federally-mandated bureaucratic
bit of red tape that had not been enforced until some whistleblower
messed things up for everybody.
American Airlines rebooked my flight and put me up in one of
those dreary airport hotels. I spent my meal voucher in the airport
bar (lesson learned in Miami).
After an early shuttle to the airport, my 9:00 a.m. flight was
cancelled and there was no real assurance that the 5:00 p.m. flight
would not be cancelled as well. (It was.) I got another hotel
and meal voucher, and waited for about an hour for the shuttle
back to the hotel while sitting on a bench next to the rental
car shuttle that ran every five minutes. Finally, the temptation
was just too much—I got on the rental shuttle, rented a
car, and drove the six hundred miles back home.
It was a great ride. The cruise control and the satellite radio
worked perfectly. West Texas never looked so good. For the time
being, New Mexico seems like the best place for time off.
Airlines are threatening to raise rates, cut flights, and generally
make things even more unpleasant. That’s why I don’t
fly anymore—except, of course, back to Ohio in the fall.
(Don’t worry, Mom.)