Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ode to All the Ways Airports Suck

Today I flew from Tucson to D.C. I'm exhausted from travel and lack of sleep, so to make this post easier I'm going to cover old ground and discuss the trials of traveling by flight.
Don't get me wrong. Flight is a miracle, and the idea of getting from one coast to the next in 4 hours boggles the mind. We rely on flight for many of our modern conveniences, so I need to give credit where it's due.

That said, flying is incredibly unpleasant. From the moment you step into the airport there's a sense that your life, for a while, is not your own. You're to be processed through a system of paperwork, scrutiny, and (if you're lucky) tiny packets of pretzels.

If you're checking a bag, you have to pray that your bag arrives where it's supposed to arrive, when it's supposed to arrive. Given the option, I'd never check a bag, but I had a lot of stuff to bring to MAGfest of Fangamer's behalf, so I took advantage of Southwest's two free checked bags (one of which was 50 lbs exactly, the other 49 lbs). And, naturally, the bags were delayed. Luckily, Southwest found our bags and delivered them in person this evening, so I appreciate the trouble they went through to make up for the inconvenience.

The feeling of being in a pressurized cabin makes me uneasy. Or perhaps it's the constant noise of the jet engine. Whatever that constant feeling is, it's unpleasant. I'd love to be able to just sleep through the journey, but sleeping on a plane is basically impossible to do comfortably. Even if you luck out and get the window seat, having a wall to lean against doesn't enhance the sleeping experience much. I'm half-tempted to take a first-class flight some day just to see if having the ability to actually lie down makes sleeping possible, or if the cabin pressure and jet noise still make sleep unsustainable.

Attempts to sleep through flights tend to result in a fitful alternation of half-sleep and half-wakefulness, neither state being satisfying. By the end of the trip, I'm in a daze trying to regain a hold on reality, and the design of airports don't assist much with that transition.

Also, how do airport restaurants manage to make everything taste bland? Is it the airport setting itself that nulls tastebuds? Is it the air? Or does the food delivered to airports all go through some sort of screening process that verifies that none of the food is a bomb but drains out the flavor as a side effect?

My apologies for another rambling post. I suspect the next several posts will be similarly rambly and unedited since I don't have much time or energy for structure and editing.

1 comment:

  1. As far as flavor, being in an airplane at altitude actually does make food taste more bland ( I don't know that that would have much effect on what's in airports, though, which I suspect is more of an issue of captive audience.

    I also have the same issues with falling asleep on planes as you do – that constant on again, off again fitful sleep. I did get upgraded to a true lie-flat first class seat on a transoceanic flight once, and while it was certainly more comfortable than trying to sleep in Economy, I didn't really sleep any better. Neck pillows do help me stay asleep a little longer, but it's still not great sleep. In general, I try to avoid overnight flights if I can at all help it.

    I will say, though, for cabin comfort - ear plugs are the one single best thing that help me immensely with feeling less exhausted during a flight. That constant wind noise, even if you tune it out after a while, is still present and very loud. The difference is huge in how I feel after flights with and without earplugs.