So it's impossible for me to take a flight in the bargain-fare, post 9-11 era without thinking about my old man, who died a little more than 10 years ago. We always dressed in Sunday go-to-meeting attire to get on an airplane, so I'd love to see his reaction to the passengers in cut-off jeans, flip-flops and go-to-the-gym fashions.
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- Louis Armstrong
I recently went to New Orleans for a work assignment, so I had a chance to soak up the atmosphere at the airports in Orlando and the Big Easy. Compared with the utilitarian vibe at Louis Armstrong International Airport, OIA is plush and well-organized — a Cadillac of people-moving institutional architecture. My check-in moved along steadily, even though I initially stood in the wrong line.
You can't control people, though, and I wish the clerk at the counter hadn't admonished me by saying, "You need to go stand in that long line over there." Certainly, there's a better way to tell me that.
The line at security? Also long, but ultimately efficient, even though I haven't learned how to gracefully remove my shoes, belt, wallet and phones, keys and loose change without holding up the party behind me. I'll practice in front of a mirror at home before my next trip.
The flight? On time and pleasant, despite the presence of a high-school baseball team returning from a tournament at Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports. I had managed to dodge the cumbersome, noisy entourage at check-in, only to find them at my gate, then in the rows all around me in the aircraft.
I can manage fine without reliving my days of chaperoning school field trips. "Where's Smitty?" one kid shouted up the aisle. I don't know if he made it, but judging from the team's travel skills, they might not win many games.
In New Orleans, I ran into another bad communicator at the rental-car counter, whose directions to the cars left me and two other dudes wandering aimlessly.
My conclusion: Air travel would run a lot more smoothly without people to gum it up. For my part, I'm going to start practicing on my belt and shoe removal skills now.