Posted by: Michelle | December 21, 2012

Would you like some cheese with your whine?

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Reno-Tahoe International (Photo courtesy of Google)

No one likes a whiner or complainer. No matter how bad you have it, someone has it worse. I get it. I actually believe it. However (you knew a “but” was coming, right?), today is my turn to snivel. Maybe it was the accumulation of a lot of “stuff” that has occurred the past month or so (details I will not go into) but suffice it to say, I deserve this brief moment in time to bemoan what life has thrown at me so I can pick up and move on. Now that I’ve probably sufficiently scared a few readers off, I’ll dive in to my morning.

In the grand scheme of things (not talking “in life” but rather my “travel life”), this was a minor blip but for whatever reason, it has spurred me to blog about my oh so favorite subject – travel etiquette – with one of my least favorites – patience. Pretty sure one has to do with the other but I’ll leave that up to the individual reader to ponder.

So my morning began as any other with a quick cardio workout, shower, throwing a few last minute items into my bag, and Starbucks. As I was approaching the reception at the hotel, an older gentleman jumped in front of me to ask the lone woman a “few questions” (important stuff like “how do I get help with my luggage when I check out in three days?”). After about 5 minutes of similar questions, I was starting to lose my patience. Finally, the woman took pity on me (or more likely, she was also tiring of the endless questions) and told him she needed to assist the other guest. Took her less than a minute to confirm and charge my credit card before handing me my receipt so I could grab a taxi.

All was well for about an hour. Checked in curb-side (one of my favorites – avoiding the line at the check-in counter), navigated security pretty handily since there was only one person in front of me (even though she didn’t know she was supposed to push her crap belongings through before going through the scanner). Checked the monitor. Flight on time, check. Inbound plane on its way, check. (I’m never satisfied by just checking airport monitors. I always check to see where my plane is coming from and that it’s actually on its way.) Now Reno-Tahoe International (ha, ha) Airport isn’t a great airport to spend any amount of time at (unless you like to play slots) as there aren’t many options for things to do/eat. I like to walk, pursue shops, grab a bite to eat (or at least have coffee) or sit in a lounge if I have work to do. Even though I did grab my Starbucks at the hotel, I wasn’t hungry so I skipped the food part. Big mistake on my part. Unless you like muffins and other pastries that are big enough to feed a small country, there really isn’t any healthy options. Oh, you can buy a protein bar in the gift shop but it will set you back $5.99 and it isn’t even the healthy kind. There’s always the free peanuts so I decided that was as good as anything I could purchase so I’d wait. (And wait I did!)

After a few laps around the small terminal, I happened to look at the monitor and saw my departure time had move from 8:45 AM to 9:05 AM. What the?? I close my eyes and look again. In my mind, I’m telling myself it’s not my flight. My flight is on time. Damn, it is my flight! Even more time to wallow away at RNO. Yippee! I walked to the farthest end of the terminal where there are no flights scheduled thinking I’d have some peace and quiet. Buuutttt… of course that is not possible. I kid you not – a bald guy with a gray ponytail (picture that!) and a skateboard (no judgement here) – comes and sits right next to me. He proceeds to eat with his mouth full and wipe his hands on his shirt. I decided it was time to move on just in time to realize there is an incoming plane. Oh, boy it’s mine, I know it’s mine! I’m giddy knowing I’m going to get out of here. I stood at the window and watched it approach and turn into gate B5. Wait, what? NO! B3, you’re supposed to be B3! Damn. It’s 8:33 and my flight was due at 8:35 so I figure it was 2 minutes “early” (yes, this would be sarcasm). But no, it’s the other 9:05 flight to Orange County. So I started playing the game I used to play when I was a child and was waiting for my dad to pick me up after swimming, the “he’ll be the next car” game. So the next plane will be mine. Okay, the next one. The next one. The… yeah, didn’t work any better than when I was a kid.

Once the plane finally arrived and pulled up to the gate, I took my designated spot in line. As did a robust gentleman with a duffle bag and large backpack. He dropped his duffle on my foot (pretty sure he was carrying rocks) and then proceeded to turn and hit me with his backpack at least five times. Then there was the usual contingency of wheelchair and disabled people that needed to preboard (I fly pretty much every week, usually United or an affiliated carrier, and never EVER see as many “disabled” preboard people as I do on Southwest. Just say’n…) before the cattle call began. I was A23 and with only 2 Business Select people, I was one of the “first” people to board yet still had to wait for people to stow their luggage and take off their coats and fiddle with whatever they felt they couldn’t live without for the next 90 minutes. Patiently I waited before taking my seat in row 2 (get the irony?).

Then comes the most maddening part. The plane was only half-full so there was no one in the middle seat. My row companion decided that he would shove his stuff in and around the middle seat. No worries, the flight attendant will catch this grievous error (after all, it COULD be a matter of life and death for me should we need to evacuate in the event of an emergency). But, as what is becoming all to familiar, it was not caught. Nor was the lady reading her Kindle. Perhaps if the crew spent less time chatting with each other they might catch the little things that are drilled into our brain – those three to four minutes they ask from us, the passengers, to give them our full and undivided attention. But the worst part is watching the flight attendant text as we taxi out for take-off. I’m pretty sure that the rules apply to them (not that I agree with this particular FAA regulation, but I do happen to be one of the minority who actually turns off all electronics).

And here we are, buckled up and luggage stowed (sort of), ready to head north. And so we sit. Being an observant, savvy traveler, I see the jet bridge is still resting comfortably against the plane. Yep, this is not a good sign. After several minutes, the pilot finally came on to give this explanation “well, folks you may have noticed that we are still sitting here [no duh!]. On the flight down from Portland, someone left a water value open so we had to make sure that it didn’t cause any damage. Everything is fine, we will have water but have to wait for the paperwork. It won’t be more than 5 or 10 minutes.” 20 minutes later, we are still sitting and the jet bridge is still leaning against the plane (mind you the door was closed). 25 minutes later, they finally moved the jet bridge back and we were on our way. Or so I thought. We taxi over and park. And sit. A few minutes later, the engines begin to roar, causing the plane to shake. Okay, that was fun. Now what? We sit a few more minutes before slowly taxing to the runway. (Found out later they were “blowing out the engines”  whatever that means. A little heads up might have been nice.)

One hour and 5 minutes later, we are landing in Portland. I could have kissed the ground. If only we didn’t taxi over and stop short of the terminal. You’ve got to be kidding me. Once again, 5 minutes later the pilot is letting us know that our gate is occupied so it will be another 5 minutes. Wanna guess how long that 5 minutes was? Yes, it was 20. I don’t know what clock Southwest runs on but it runs a bit slower than mine.  So 30 minutes after we landed, I am finally on the jet bridge… behind 4 of the wheel chair people who are walking off the plane. (I’m always mystified at the miracle of flight where people need a chair to board but are perfectly capable at getting off without one. This phenomenon happens often on Southwest.) But the worst part, was the woman who cut me off as I was headed into Starbucks tucked in-between the escalators by baggage. Really, woman? Don’t.Mess.With.A.Starbucks.Addict.

Here are a few friendly reminders of travel etiquette (probably too much to expect when flying Southwest but will give it a try anyway):

  • Have your ID out when you approach the TSA agent. Looking for it in your purse while standing in front of the podium is not cool.
  • Be efficient – if there is a line, you can use this time to get your ducks in a row (for example, take off your coat, unzip the pocket where your laptop resides, etc. You don’t have to wait until you get to the bins to start getting ready.
  • Push your own crap personal items through the scanner before you go through the x-ray or metal detector.
  • For God’s sake, don’t get redressed on the other side where multiple people are trying to grab their own stuff. Every airport has benches, tables, chairs, etc. Grab your crap stuff and move out of the way.
  • Before you board, get organized. Remove your coat (if you are not inclined to keep it on), grab whatever book, etc. so you can efficiently and effectively board without keeping all the other passengers waiting. Oh, and it you don’t have enough arms to manage this – you have too much stuff!
  • Remember that the overhead bin space isn’t just for you. When the plane is crowed, be courteous and stow that smaller, personal item under your seat.UNDER YOUR SEAT – not between your knees, behind your feet, etc. We all hope the need for an emergency evacuation is nill, but it can happen. And if I get caught up in your stuff, I promise I will haunt you until the end of time. Just say’n…
  • If you are going to move at the speed of slow while deplaning, either hang out and wait or move to the side so people can pass. This is particularly frustrating when you have a tight connection but cannot get around people who have all the time in the world.
  • The loading zone is just that. For loading – for those who might be challenged – this means actively loading/unloading bags and/or people. This does not mean park and wait for your party to come out of the baggage area. I had the pleasure of watching a car towed because someone was not only stupid enough to park in the loading zone, but left their vehicle unattended. HA!

Let me reiterate – this was not my worst travel day and in the grand scheme of things, this was a minor inconvenience but it was just one of those days where it was harder to just let things slide. But now that I’m home, I can laugh it all off. Until the next time I travel and people start to annoy me. You know the ones… those who believe that the rules don’t apply to them. Well, I have news for you… THE RULES DO APPLY TO YOU! I have yet to find a sign that says “the following individuals do not have to follow this rule…” so until I do, you will continue to hear from me.

(And if you haven’t figured it out yet, this was Tuesday and it is now Friday. I have the attention span of a gnat and even when I’m fired up, I rarely can get through a post in one sitting.)

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