The Joys of Airplane Business Travel

Ever had one of those airport + flight experiences where enough things go wrong that you wish you could do it over again?

I get to the Dallas airport yesterday, having put in my Nexus pass number online and excited that I can finally use the shorter security line (bit of a long story as to why I’m only figuring this out now), only to find out it has to be put in 24 hours before the flight departs for it to show up on my ticket as a TSA Pre-Check. Apparently the fact that I did it 26 hours before my flight wasn’t quite enough time. Go figure.

Then I go through security and the four people in front of me go through the metal detector. I get instructed to go through the body scanner. I opt out of the body scanner as I normally do. I don’t mind the pat down; I do mind the unnecessary radiation (if there’s no medical reason for it, and it’s not helping me diagnose a medical problem, I don’t want it, no matter how safe it’s supposed to be). The body scanners are part of the war machine that churns away in the USA (and Canada) and is more about fear than actual security. So long as there’s an option to opt-out, I’m going to take it. Getting scanned because I’m told to is not something I’m OK with. The security agent loudly informs everyone in the area that the scanner is harmless and there’s no reason to avoid it. OK, thanks for that Mr. TSA agent, I appreciate you trying to embarrass me.

As I’m getting the pat down from one agent, the other agent is doing a full bag search. This is unusual based on my experience. They confiscate my small Swiss Army pocket knife that I stupidly forgot to leave at home. It’s got maybe a 1.5″ blade, so smaller than the scissors they now allow, but apparently all knives all forbidden. Great, now I have to waste $28 buying another one, and it’s completely my own fault.

I get onto the full flight with Alaska Airlines, stuck in a middle seat, and spend the next 3.5 hours sweating like a pig. The plane is so damn hot. I happened to have a room thermometer with me (long story), so I use it: the plane is 80.5F where I’m sitting. The two previous occasions on other flights where I’ve asked about the temperature I’m told the pilot controls it and I should just sit down and deal with it, so I don’t mention the heat this time. At one point the back of my shirt rides up a bit, and when I get up to use the bathroom I have to peel myself off the fake leather seat. Nice.

On my way back from the bathroom, the drink cart is in front of me, so they move up four rows to an open spot and instruct me to step into an open seat so they can pass me by. I briefly look down to ensure I’m not stepping on anything, but the lights are very low so it’s hard to see anything. It turns out the woman sitting in the middle seat had her black canvas bag sitting out on the floor, instead of tucked under the seat as she’s supposed to, and she says “You just broke my sunglasses!”. I immediately apologize and move into the aisle now that the cart has passed. I offer to pay for them. She grunts at me as she grabs her bag off the floor and opens the pocket. I say that if she gives me her contact information I will replace them for her; she sternly says “No, that’s OK!” and I walk away saying sorry again, feeling foolish and embarrassed at having damaged someone else’s things by being a little too quick to obey the flight attendant.

I return to my seat and resume my sweaty vision quest of a flight. The plane does not crash, and I am home safe. Yay business travel! 🙂