Flying lows

My new job requires me to travel. Once I get settled in, the travel will be occasional, but right now it’s frequent. (And my week off from business travel will still involve me flying to get to Mom’s house for Thanksgiving.) I am now reminded of how much I hate flying. It’s such an incredible hassle! Let’s take the flight I’m on right now for an example, which is not at all atypical (this will be posted later, once I’m on the ground).

This United flight from Newark (EWR) to Montreal (YUL) was scheduled to depart at 10:28am. It boarded and left the gate more or less on time. But that means nothing. We proceeded to sit on the tarmac for the next 45 minutes. That is the most frustrating delay you can have. You’re stuck in a cramped seat, with no electronics or Internet access, nothing to drink, no bathroom access and often (as was the case today) no idea when you will actually be leaving. Even when we were finally told we were second in line for departure it was nearly another 10 minutes before we took off!

Newark seems to be one of the worst for this type of delay, both in and out. My flights to Newark are usually late. For my trip home last Friday afternoon, the plane was late coming from Newark and then we were again delayed on the tarmac due to congestion at EWR. At least that time they gave us an estimate of when we would leave and allowed us to use electronics while we were parked and waiting.

Why are the airlines allowed to get away with this? They know full well their schedules aren’t realistic. That’s why the scheduled time for this short 57 minute flight is an hour and 27 minutes. They build these cushions in because they expect to be late. Of course, they are supposed to cover delays at both ends, but in this case we exceeded the half hour cushion by 50% just on the departure side! Again, not atypical. Why does this happen? Even in generally good weather the airports can’t seem to churn planes in and out as fast as they are–according to the time tables–supposed to be able to.

And I haven’t even started on checked bag fees, TSA’s enhanced security screenings and liquid carry-on restrictions, high fares, and many airlines eliminating free snacks and limiting seat availability (unless you pay even more money). It all adds up to one major pain in the ass.

But what can we do? Drive? Take a train? Ha! For the most part, it’s put up with all this crap or stay home.

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Sandy

Like millions of others around me, I recently suffered through Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy. I lived in the Midwest my whole life until earlier this year when I relocated to the greater New York City area. Therefore it was my first hurricane experience. I’d be perfectly happy if it was my last.

It was a harrowing experience. It’s hard to explain what it was like to go through. The wind was worse than anything I’ve seen. I’m sure a tornado is worse, but I’ve never been in one of those (there have been some close calls over the years though) and they are usually there and gone in minutes, at most. This storm, with its high winds gusting at times near 100mph, lasted several hours. In the living room, we have a sliding glass door leading out to a balcony. The door was closed tight, and locked. But for hours the wind was coming through the door and rattling the vertical blinds, which were closed more for psychological comfort than physical protection.

I spent the bulk of the storm in the den, which had smaller windows that I assumed were somewhat safer. When I went through the living room I did so quickly, and didn’t linger. The stupid cats wanted to look out the door, so I had to keep them shut in the other room with me.

For most of the evening I had the TV on, tuned to a local station or to CNN. I checked Twitter constantly, and got almost as much information that way. That was, until the power went out around 9:30pm. As far as I was able to determine, much of town had lost power before that, and I was daring to hope we’d escape that fate. Alas, we didn’t.

I spent the rest of the storm in the dark, literally and figuratively, as I was disconnected from my information sources (avoiding use of my phone to conserve battery). Eventually it calmed down enough that I was able to go to bed and get some sleep.

A couple days later–the power still off–I ended up going to Philadelphia, which is about a 2 hour drive away, or would have been if it didn’t take half an hour to get out of town due to road closures. There I met up with the bf and we hung out for a couple days in a hotel. We returned home Saturday afternoon, and the power had only come on a few hours before.

I got to miss the nor’easter as I was out of town for work.

All things considered many people were much more dramatically impacted by Sandy than I was. Some people lost their homes, some lost their lives. So I still count my blessings, and I feel for those who were less fortunate.

The cleanup is ongoing, and there are still people that need help. Don’t forget just because the media does.