Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Airplanes and us

     So glad to read that airline satisfaction has improved.  during the course of our lives, we have flown on every U S airline except Pan Am, Jet Blue, Southwest, and Alaska.
     I don't remember what airline we used on our honeymoon flight to Miami Beach in 1962.  I just remember that the snow caused our flight from Philly to switch runways and the only way we could get there was to run across the tarmac and airport officials helped us find the right plane.
     The next flight we took was the 6 of us, to Tampa/St. Pete.  My mother, in a wheelchair because she was fainting if you Looked at her wrong.  Our oldest child, with a very high temperature was being pushed in an umbrella stroller.  Our youngest, less than 2 amused himself by pushing the light on and off while standing on Edgar's lap in the plane.  Our male flight attendant offered all of us pieces of chewing gum to help with the ear pressure pain caused by the landing approach.
     A side note on this flight.  The man sitting behind us invited, pleaded, and tried to bribe us to continue on to Miami Beach as his guests.  He said he was Jackie Gleason's band leader and he permission to invite whoever he wanted to the New Year's Eve party and put his guests up in the Presidential Suite.  We did not go.
     On one of our winter vacations, the 6 of us flew home on Delta and I got asthma from the wafting cigarette smoke.  The flight attendants were caring and solicitous.  They took us off the plane in Atlanta, put us up in deluxe Atlanta airport rooms and eventually we continued our flight back home to Philly from Florida.
     We did not fly again until Northwest Airlines banned all smoking on its domestic flights.  This was years before the federal no smoking law was enacted.  We flew to Hawaii, Seattle, Anchorage, and Montana many times on Northwest and would have continued but they played around with the schedule so that our inconvenience overpowered our loyalty.
     we flew on American many times, United, Continental, and U S Airways.  We even flew on Hawaiian and Aloha on interisland flights  in Hawaii.  These interisland flights are more like bus trips than airplane flights.  If you miss one, the next one is almost ready to leave.
     We flew American to Wisconsin with regularity and although there was no trouble getting there, the flights home, through Chicago, were always "iffy."  American canceled the Chicago to Philly flight on more than one occasion and put us on alternate carriers.  On United, the flight attendant loved my pocketbook (Gucci) and paraded around the cabin with it on her shoulder.  On Continental, we had to switch planes in Cincinnati.  The waiting area there was like a high school cafeteria or gymnasium.
     And on Delta, we had to switch planes in Memphis.  When the plane landed in Philly, there was no jetway.  And after we climbed down the ladder we had to wend our way along the tarmac, through the underground passages, up the elevator, and finally out to the street.
     U S Airways took us to Puerto Rico twice and to Hawaii.
     Mostly our trips resulted in pleasure and our saying "It's great to get away and great to return home."
     We had one heart pouncing ride on one of our 35 trips home from Hawaii, on a red eye flight.  It was dark, we were asleep, and suddenly the lights went on and the pilot announced that we were about 150 miles East of San Francisco and headed back for repairs.  Then came the announcement that the fire engines and ambulances on each side of the plane were "SOP."  RIGHT!!!
     We all got off the plane, waited in the airport for 4 hours, were told the plane could not be fixed, got on another one for Dallas.  Then, more fun.
     We took any seats available for our trip from Dallas to Philly.  Bulkhead for us.  Edgar had the window.  I had the middle.  and the aisle was empty until the last minute when a breathless young man sat down and squirmed and squirmed.  In an effort to calm him I asked him why  he was going to Philly.  "I'm going to Atlantic City."  "To gamble?"  "No, for training."  "To be a dealer?"  "No, with the FAA."  I nudged Edgar.  "Oh, are you an air martial?"  "Yes."  "Are you squirming because of your gun?"  "Yes, I usually wear it at my side, but I have it in my back now and I can't get comfortable.  Do you want to see it?"