Thursday, February 26, 2009

Musings During A 3-Hour Layover And 3 Flights

text and photos © Robert Barry Francos

It is taking me three flights to get to my destination, including one going 400 miles in the opposite direction.

I really, truly enjoy puddle-jumper planes that seat 24 passengers or less. True the luggage space is smaller, but, but usually the legroom is larger; seems an even compromise.

The person who designed the luggage on wheels deserves some kind of metal or statue. Not that mine has one, though. It keeps me “honest” and from over-packing, though. I always feel better when I travel with carryon, especially on international trips where I don’t have to wait on line at customs and also wait for luggage. It always feels like some kind of “coup”, in a Native American / First Nations sense of the word.

What is the point of having monitors blaring some news channel in the waiting areas, other than the airline getting subsidized by said news channel? Just makes rude, loud people on cell phones that much louder to talk over them.

I’ve never ridden one of those intra-terminal golf cart vehicles that take people from gate to gate, but they look like fun.

Morally, why is it more than twice as expensive to fly from New York to Toronto as it is from New York to Mexico City?

Why do most airports that have moving walkways usually only have them going in one direction; aren’t there people needing to go both ways? Also, if one is on a moving sidewalk and no desire to walk it, please stand to the right so that other can.

The prices for food near the gates…WHAT?!

I saw a couple of those card inserts they put in publications for subscriptions on the floor by the gate for MAD magazine; it made me smile.

I understand the desire to chew gum when in an airplane to ease ear pressure, but I do not understand the desire to snap it when there is someone strapped into a seat next to you less than a foot away.

One of my favorite things about waiting at the gate to fly to Montreal is the higher possibility of hearing Yiddish spoken.

Reading the Globe and Mail or New York Times is challenging when sitting in an airplane seat, especially if you are not on the aisle, and extra-especially if the person in front of you pushes their chair into a reclining position. This is also true if one is using a laptop.

Television shows still show people saying hello and goodbye at the gate, which was an impossibility even before 9/11. This makes it difficult to meet friends during long layovers because it means yet another trip through the screening.

Air Canada used to give away earphones like they were M&Ms, but now they charge $3. Instead, on the first flight I turned the “personal TV” to Family Guy because I know them well enough that I don’t need the sound to laugh at the lines (which is like the time…). On the second leg, I did the same with The Big Bang Theory (Sheldon has the best t-shirts, but that’s for another musings blog). The last leg, which was the longest, I watched RocknRolla which did not seem to have as much action as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, so I ended up watching most of it in double speed; then I watched a documentary about silent film comedies, which seemed appropriate without headsets.

I have had a number of fun conversations with rowmates on planes, but on the first leg of this particular journey, the person was kind of rude. She literally slammed down the armrest and then hogged all of it; she held up a book so I could not see out the window, though it was pretty obvious I was trying to do so; she was texting and then phoning as soon as we grounded, before docking (a no-no); though I said hello and goodbye, she never even looked in my direction as acknowledgement. I respect not wanting to talk, but even some kind of look to concede someone else is there seemed out of the question. As she was in her early ‘20s, maybe she will learn eventually.

While there is still a bit of distance to walk in the Toronto airport from the international area to the domestic side, it is still way better than it used to be where one had to take a long walk, an intra-airport shuttle bus, and then another long walk, which took a long time. Thanks for finishing the construction!

Customs was a snap! Basically the guy asked me the purpose of my visit, and one other question. After a 20 minute wait to get to the desk, I’m through in less than 1 minute.

The woman at the airline gate checking tickets looks a lot like Janeane Garofalo.

A pilot is sitting in front of me in the waiting area reading a travel guide to Cuba, something one is not likely to see at a US airport.

Except for the bilingual signs, Toronto’s airport feels the same as any in New York.

On the second flight, I sat next to a fiddle player who put the instrument into the overhead. She looks like someone I know named Melissa R-. While wanting to sleep more than talk, she informs me that she fiddles for fun and does not record. She has a cold I come to learn; fiddlesticks, I hope I don’t catch anything.

Woman in front of me is speed reading the thick Slumdog Millionaire novel, Evelyn Woods style, with her finger swishing over each page. Though a short flight, she is about a quarter of the way through the book. No matter how much one retains, how does one absorb and think about what one is reading?

Only about a 20 minute wait between the second and third flight, and the sun is setting. My left tush is sore, and I am only about half way through my travels.

For the last flight, I’m at the window seat for row 19. Only there is no window at this seat; there is one behind me and in front, but not next to me. As if that wasn’t claustrophobic enough, I’m sitting next to “gentleman” who is not only hogging the armrest, but his elbow is sticking into my ribs. Plus, his a wide sitter, so his knee is pressing mine. I do not like this guy. He is on his way to a biotech conference to make a presentation, so he should be smart enough to know better. By the time this flight is over, odds are I will be pushing back.

I love the free newspapers. Today I’ve read The Globe and Mail, The National Post, and the Ottawa Citizen. The big stories seem to be the economy and about a Saskatoon ex-tribal leader who, after being admonished by a judge for his remarks, was then found not guilty of public antisemetic remarks (basically, he publicaly claimed that if Hitler didn’t do such a good job, the Jews would have taken over).

In just a little over a month, planes have crashed into the Hudson and a house near Buffalo, and yet, I feel no fear about flying, even during turbulence.

Was just about to nap, when the infant in the seat directly in front of mine starting wailing, and yet I find this less annoying than listening to someone on a cell phone; perhaps because the caller chooses to be disruptive, and baby is just being itself.

Took 35 minutes for the guy next to me to retreat (somewhat) to his side. I guess I could have asked him to move, but despite being from New York, I’m not that aggressive. Maybe I just work better as passive aggressive? As all this was settling down, he suddenly flips up the armrest that separates us. If he asked, I wouldn’t have cared, actually, but he didn’t ask, he just assumed. Wonder how he is with people who work for him?

Someone close ordered some Pringles. What do people see in them? They are so much more bland compared to Wise, Kerrs, or Utz. Never been much of a Lay’s man (yes, I can eat just one), but I still prefer them over Pringles.

Left my apartment at 7:30 AM, and it is almost 9 PM, with at least a half hour to go to landing. I am tired, Jack!

Landed 15 minutes late, but considering I took three flights and was able to meet with each of them and get here this close to being on-time, I am happy.


  1. Look at you - getting all Andy Rooney on us!

  2. D'jever notice that when someone mentions Andy Rooney, people always talk like him? Even in print, it's true. D'jever notice that...well, I'm done. Thanks for the comment, Craig, as always. Bet it's starting to get warm down there in the Carolinas.