Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Procrastination by way of rant

I'm getting ready for the annual Green Ronin Summit in just under a month and have a to-do list that started at three legal pages long (both personal and business-related). Needless to say, it's going to be a challenge to blog very much. I broke off from GR business today when Kate got home from school and worked on a couple of items from the list but it's slow going. I should be upstairs folding massive amounts of laundry so I can uncover my bed in time to sleep... but I worked hard all day and I am procrastinating. Folding laundry is so dull.

So, a rant to get my blood pumping.

On our most recently flight (that would be returning from the Alliance Open House in Las Vegas) I ended up on an airline I rarely fly with anymore: US Airways. We hadn't packed too heavily for the trip but did have enough things with us (odds and ends from the show, a few extra books and whatnot) that each of us had one checked bag. At US Airways, you have to pay $15 to check a bag. ANY bag. Then, when we were aboard the plane, we were informed that in order to have any beverage, you're expected to pay. Water? $2. Soda/juice? $2. Coffee, $1. A Bud Light could be had for a mere $7. No free "snack" either, only a $5-$10 "snack pack" option. Then, adding insult to injury, once the plane was in the air video screens dropped down to broadcast commercials for Coke (and other "sponsor's" goods). Wow. What a load of crap.

Airlines are in dire straights and have been for some time but so are everyday people who are being squeezed more and more as well. People can't afford heating oil for the winter, aren't able to pay their mortgages, have seen their retirement accounts shrinking amidst the Wall Street mess. Thanks to the TSA or Homeland Security or whoever decided that liquids and gels are some sort of legitimate threat (Salon had an excellent series of articles on this, calling it a "trumped up ruse.") but now passengers are faced with being both unable to bring their own FREE water from home and being forced to pay for it either inside the airport or on the plane itself? What if the flight is delayed while you are trapped in your seat in the sweltering plane for an extra hour (as happened to me this summer)? What if you were just taking a short hop that turns into something bigger? What if you intended to stop on your layover to buy yourself some food and water but instead had to run the entire length of the Dallas airport like a marathon sprinter with a computer bag slung across your back? No water for you unless you have $2 in your pocket? Outrageous.

And while we're at it, a pox on this whole damn "snack pack" thing as well. Just let me bring my own peanut butter sandwich, don't give me that peanut butter is a gel BS, and let me avoid your weird and creepy concoctions of pretzels and bread crisps with cinnamon sugar, or the combo of chips, some greasy salami, almond-honey butter on sesame crackers or whatever else the lowest bidder agreed to stuff into a "snack pack" to substitute for a meal. I'll pack a lunch if that's what I need to do, but let me meet my own needs! That means if my TMJ is acting up (a condition which is not made any easier when I have to grit my teeth through the entire airport security experience, by the way) I might want to bring a nice, delicate pudding cup, a soft PB&J, a banana or (if it's particularly bad) some sort of enriched beverage that doesn't need to be bitten or chewed at all. Nuts, pretzels, beef jerky... that's not going to be any help to me, thanks. But no, my pudding cup isn't allowed through security. It's absurd.

Finally, on this particular US Airways flight, in addition to all the irritations about food and drink, we were also on a plane with a group of chuckleheads who had been in Vegas for some sort of frat boy bachelor party or something and were loudly continuing to hoot and yuk it up a few rows ahead. While I was fishing around in my bag for my earplugs, I dropped one and was looking for it under the seats when a flight attendant stopped to "help". I'd already done a pretty thorough search (even pulling the cushion up) and wasn't able to find it, told her multiple times that I didn't need help, but she kept insisting she could help. Finally I broke down and showed her my remaining earplug. "You expect me to find that on THIS carpet?" she exclaimed. Through gritted teeth I said, as neutrally as I could, "NO, I don't expect you to do anything! As I said, it's FINE, I'm FINE, I don't need ANYTHING. Thanks."

US Airways really hit all my buttons and I left swearing that I was not going to fly with them again. Unfortunately, they're not alone in this behavior... all the airlines are doing it to one extent or another. Still makes me mad, though, and I have to think it's not going to help air travel (or the economy) in the long run.

Ok, I have too much laundry to sort. Must get back to it.r

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Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Thanks to Alton Brown for this travel tip: Take an empty thermos to the airport. Once past the security check point fill it with the lovely beverage of your choice and carry it on to the plane.

Blogger Wolven Says:

I don't know how it's on US internal flights, or on any other TSA-controlled flights.

However, I do know how the rules stand on european flights, having done airport security for a year and a half with the current set of rules in place.

100ml container is the maximum size, but you can bring several, up to 10. That helps you bring any particularily necessary food items through (butter, no problem, just bring a couple of packets and your choice of bread in a box).

As for beverages, either purchase them after the checkpoint, bring an empty bottle through and fill from a tap (if you can trust tap water), or do the thermos trick.

The idea is that no unverified liquids get through, and any liquids sold inside the controlled are are, by definition, verified safe.

At least in europe, if you had a sandwich in a box, no-one would get upset at the PB&J or butter or whatever in it. Must be a pain if the TSA people are being that anal about it, and I know they shouldn't be because it's more work for them too, and aggravating work at that. Been there, done that.


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