Air travel isn’t for everyone, but depending on how travel savvy you are, you can make the best of it.
One of my favorite things about air travel is sitting at the terminal watching the planes take off, land, and taxi down the tarmac. American. Delta. Singapore. Emirates. 747s, A320s, CRJs and Dash-8 turboprops. Small jets, large jets, blue planes, green planes, red planes, gold planes. All vying for space on the runway to take off. Even being on the plane experiencing it can be fun, as long as the delays aren’t too lengthy. Looking at the different aircraft sizes and their wingspans reminds me of the conga line that is entering the Port Authority Bus Terminal on a commuter bus during the morning rush. Once they get to the end and it’s time to take off, you hear the engines roar and the aircraft lunge forward, taking off slowly depending on the aircraft size. Some planes like an Airbus A320 take no time to lift off, while the “Queen of the Skies” Boeing 747 needs more runway time and takes off as in slow motion. Landing is much trickier due to needing runway space to come down, glide over the runway for a quick second, and then finally touch down so as not to come down too hard. Landings take practice and experience, but depending on the aircraft, some are comfortable while others might have you a little jittered afterwards.
What is there not to like about flying? The security procedures at the terminals. Oh, the horror! Well, had I not flown to Europe, I would still feel more or less the same way. Ever since 9/11, security has gotten so stringent that combined with the nickel and diming of the domestic carriers the experience has turned many including myself sour. I still enjoying flying, but I can deal without the ever-changing TSA rules for what not to carry on a plane, the patdowns which aren’t always just patdowns, the inspection of laptops and other electronics separate from everything else, the tedious process of figuring out how you will carry liquids including gels, pastes, and liquid souvenirs from your travels with this whole 3-ounce rule, the removal of hats, belts, shoes, rings, watches, and other things that the detectors might beep for, among other things. They say it’s in the name of safety and security, but why is this all necessary? To protect the country from attacks by planes? To prevent people from hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings as a repeat of 9/11? My take on this: if someone really “hated America” and wanted to harm or kill, he or she would do anything necessary by any means necessary to do it, but don’t expect me to think that fear-mongering will make me feel safer…that is what vigilance is for. Watching oneself and being careful what you do and when you do it while still enjoying my time to my destination. Knowing that with proper credentials, I am free to roam the country or the world. My experience flying into and out of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle was very efficient but at the same time wasn’t security-intense (but then again, my experience flying into Heathrow was a bit closer to home). Seems that international destinations are more considerate about your flying experience while still keeping it safe for you to fly. My customs experiences outside of the U.S. at airports are more favorable than here at home. So why the fear-mongering? Who knows…
Do I still fly? Absolutely! It is the only way to enjoy far away domestic and international destinations with a tight schedule and an eagerness to see the world outside of a 8+ hour bus or train ride or a day-long boat ride. Some of my most memorable experience have been as close as Texas and as far as England. I just wish that moving about the country and getting in and out was a bit more relaxed than it is. I guess that kind of thinking is too far up in the clouds…?