13 Jun 2008 10:09 am   //   Filed under: Travel

Flying goldfish

One thing that amazes me about air travel is that everyone acts like they’re doing it for the first time. Every airline employee is on their first day at the job. Every passenger is confused about what to do. The poor TSA folks are literally doing everything afresh, given that their instructions seem to change weekly. It’s as if no one in an airport has a memory. Every check-in is novel and exciting.

Even the people at the Dulles Airport Cosi yesterday acted like they’d never taken an order before (and I didn’t even deviate from the menu – I know better than to do that at an airport!). I was enjoying my sloppily made chicken pesto sandwich and chips (Chips? I asked for carrots! There are only two options!) when United announced my flight was open for boarding, all seats, half an hour early. This was a small flight, maybe 20 people, and we all got up and formed a line at the gate. There, we were scolded harshly by a United employee, who insisted that our flight had not yet been called. A mass hallucination, apparently.

Nearby, two passengers were pleading with a United attendant to let them board their flight – which was still at the gate, maybe 15 steps away, and wasn’t scheduled to depart for another ten minutes. The befuddled employee was ignoring their questions and instead scolding them for not being on time – now that flight was going to be late, since they will have to offload their luggage and re-balance the plane.

Still, it was a beautiful day for flying, and as always, the airline got me where I needed to be safely. My suitcase was another story. United finally delivered it to the hotel at 8 p.m., six hours after I arrived. This threw me a little off my game, but I still managed to get oriented yesterday and post this story.