Saturday, May 31, 2008

Air Journal: May 29 Welcome to Florida

Well, I said I wasn't going to do any entries, but I figured planes are sort of public, since it's not like I'm letting strangers in my car, so here goes. And also because I've gotten so used to narrating my travels in my head, it was kind of hard to stop.

I usually try to fly out of Burbank airport because it is closer, but mainly because it is infinitely less painful than LAX. But because I was making reservations with 24 hours notice, the cheapest flight I could get out of Burbank required me to pay $100 more than LAX for the privilege of changing planes twice each way instead of once. Forget it.

My friend Steve was nice enough to drive me to LAX. I didn't want to make him too late for work, so I got there with more than 2 hours notice. I'll omit specific airline names, but apparently the airline whose website I booked on have a partnership with another airline. My flight home would be on the airline I booked with, but the one out there was with the "partner" airline. I thought that meant I should go to the partner airline terminal, and since it wasn't the same terminal as the original airline, I hoped I was right because trying to change terminals from the outside would probably have either resulted in my getting hopelessly lost, getting stuck on a plane to Singapore, or getting run over by a jet. I walked up to the e-ticket check-in computer, but it wasn't taking my reservation code. So I got in line for the "I'm either a moron or I don't have an e-ticket, which also qualifies me for being a moron" line to talk to a person. I guess either there was a computer problem between the two airlines' reservation computers or I had made the reservation so recently that it hadn't gotten transferred, but it worked out.

Part of the reason LAX is stupid is that they make you carry your checked bags to the X-ray machine, even though they don't make you wait.

(My mother keeps talking to me even though I'm clearly busy. She's impeding freedom of the press as far as I am concerned.)

I sat around and waited for awhile. I was kind of spacy, but I think I managed to read.

One of the things that annoys me, and I consider it akin to the "let's crowd around the door of the bus even though someone is trying to get off" problem, is when they get ready to start boarding the plane, and everyone has to get up and crowd around the gate, even though they're probably in zone 9,361 and are clearly not going to board anytime in the near future. Morons.

I ended up sitting in the very last row, but then again, people who make reservations less than 24 hours ahead can't really be choosers. I did actually get a window seat, though, and I like window seats. Some woman came up and I guess her seats with her two children were not contiguous, so she asked if I would move. I'm usually willing to consider it, but I was just kind of a borderline wreck and I wanted to cower in my corner, so I apologized and declined. They did their standard "the plane is fully booked so stop acting like an asshole and just put your oversized carry-on bag overhead or shove it under your seat already" announcement. As it ended up, there was an empty seat and it was the one next to me.

One of the flight attendants kept stopping and telling corny jokes to the kids sitting in front of me. "A man has a carrot in his ear. A policeman walks up and asks him why he has a carrot in his. 'Sorry, officer, I can't hear you because I have a carrot in my ear.'"

The flight was pretty uneventful, until I get up to deplane (and I never stand up until it's clear that I will actually start to move soon. Plus I was in the very last row. I was apparently the only person who realized that they weren't going to move faster than everyone else in front of them. Morons.) Then I realized that my pants were stuck to a piece of used chewing gum on the edge of my seat. I was pretty sure the gum wasn't there when I got up to use the lavatory, so I strongly suspect that the children who were sitting in front of me were the culprits, but whatever.

When I stepped off the plane at the airport in Charlotte, North Caroline, the first thing I smell is fried chicken. Welcome to The South. There's a Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits right next to the gate. It made me a little sick to my already malfunctioning stomach. I walked up and down the terminal and almost everything was deep-fried or otherwise greasy looking. Except the gelato, but I didn't think that would be a good idea. I settled for some weird bagel sandwich.

After I ate that, I went to sit outside the gate to wait. The man sitting next to me has a gym back which says, "The 17th Annual Greater Horseballs Invitational Golf Tournament." I just didn't want to know. Someone else can google it. Some other redneck waiting at the gate had a Lynyrd Skynyrd Freebird t-shirt on. Don't even ask me about the "Freebird Syndrome."

The plane from Charlotte to Florida was only about 2/3 full, so I got another window seat next to an empty seat. It was a really short flight and we got in early. As I stepedp from the plane to the Jetway, I got a blast of hot, humid air. Ugh.

It was around 9:30 and the airport had pretty much shut down for the night. Not for the same reason Burbank's airport does, which is because it's too close to residential areas, but just because no one really wants to go to this Buttfuck Nowhere part of Florida. Part of the floor in the walkway from the central area to the exits was cordoned off with industrial fans blowing on it. The area smelled like someone had spilled a giant barrel of Vicks Menthol Vap-O-Rub. By the time I hit the restroom and got to the baggage claim, our bags were already coming off. Trust me, for this airport that was an anomaly.

I grabbed my bag and stepped out into the warm, humid, 10PM air. I was outside less than 3 minutes when I got bitten by my first mosquito of the visit. (It will not be the last.)

Welcome to Florida.

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