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Flying By The Seat Of Our Pants

Flying By The Seat Of Our Pants

So where are all these people headed to at three-thirty am? You would think at this ungodly hour most of them would be home in their warm beds like I wish I was at the moment. There has to be a better time of day for air travel.

This was the second time in four days we had checked into an airport with only carry-on bags, so you would think we would know the routine this go around.

We don’t fly often, opting to drive most places we visit instead of taking to the great blue skies. Actually, I think it’s been twelve years since our last flight and rules and regulations have changed drastically in those few years.

No one is questioning if we need help or even if we were supposed to be here or if we know what we are doing – even though I’m sure we looked clueless in comparison to most of the travelers milling around us.

After finally finding the check-in line to go through security with pre-printed boarding passes in hand, we then had to struggle to wrestle our ID’s from their secure places in wallet and purse, while the attendant lectures us on being prepared with this little detail before we get to the front of the line, so as not to hold up the process for others. So many lines – so many lectures.

We are then run through hastily with others as though we are cattle going to the slaughter-house and when we arrive at the counter our bags are to be hoisted up onto the conveyor belt as if they are groceries at the supermarket. I half expected to have to insert my debit card for payment at the end of the line.

Feeling how Lucy and Ethel must have felt in the candy factory episode, we then proceed to hurriedly unload any areosol cans and our one each, quart-sized zip-lock plastic bag full of bottles no larger than about 3 ounces, of hair products, contact solution, bath gel, and after shave. Lastly we emptied our pockets and persons of cell phones, coins, keys, and watches before our bags are whisked through the scanner with our hands still intact.  And while struggling to get this done in a timely fashion, people behind us, who are surely more experienced in the procedure of being airborne, are huffing and puffing while throwing looks of impatience our way.

The elderly man ahead of us is told to remove his shoes and move through the two metal bars and then he would be patted down.

Hmmm? I was beginning to panic. This didn’t happen on the flight over and we were at a much smaller airport that time. We had to remove our shoes that first time – no Jessie you were wrong on not having to remove shoes if you are a senior – and then made a short stop in the scanner before picking up our bags and shoes on the other side. I was not prepared for a pat-down and I don’t believe H was either, not that either one of us were smuggling illegal contraband on board the plane. H didn’t even bring his razor for fear of it being confiscated. A trip to Walmart will take care of that.

As we hesitated, we were both waved on through with no removing of our shoes or pat-down while that poor shoeless and beltless man sat looking forlorn on a bench waiting to be patted down. He did not look happy while I guess we looked honest or just too stupid to try anything with ‘too stupid’ probably being the answer.

We stopped at the conveyor belt and repacked our bags with our plastic quart size plastic bags, and our pockets with our cell phones, keys, and change. At least they looked like our bags – the ones we had left on the other side – and my purse looked no worse for wear and tear, but who knows what took place on the other side as we were kept busy worrying about a ‘maybe pat-down’.

We had decided on flying with just a carry-on bag each to save time from having to check our bags, save spending $25 to check each bag, and fear of our luggage not arriving at the same time and place we did since we had to change planes in Atlanta.

Andrew would have been horrified if we had shown up at his PASIC performance in the same clothes we would be wearing and sleeping in for three days if our luggage was lost. Of course Andrew also scored more spending money from the amount saved by us not checking our bags.

I know rules and regulations are put in place for good reasons, but do they realize how tedious it is to transfer hair gel from one container to another smaller container? And the cost of all those smaller plastic containers or travel size products could cost you as much as it would cost to check a bag one-way. There’s a fine line between what you can take and what you can’t.

H had to sport the green wrist band he received at the registration desk for three days because we had nothing sharp to cut it off with after the one day he could use it – not even a pair of nail clippers – and then we would forget about it while eating out. Steak knives cut more than steak. I think he still has it on and we’ve been home for an hour. His wrist might have grown around it like a tree trunk around a piece of metal.  I better check.

Was flying worth it? When I weigh the odds I’m not sure. We woke at three am this morning and arrived home at eleven-thirty am. That’s eight and one-half hours start to finish. I feel as though I’ve been up for twenty-four hours, but at least the view of the sunrise from the plane was spectacular!

Realistically, it is about a twelve-hour drive straight through to San Antonio. With H at the wheel it would have been about sixteen or seventeen hours with stopping for each and every meal time and consistent stops at most of the Walmarts along the way.

Me, myself, and I would have made it in about thirteen hours with full bottles of hair products and a pair of scissors for emergencies.


About Elle Knowles

Elle Knowles lives in the Florida Panhandle with her husband and off-at-college-most-of-the-time son. She has four daughters, one son, and eleven beautiful grandchildren. 'Crossing the Line' is her first novel. The sequel 'What Line' is a work in progress. Recently published is Coffee-Drunk Or Blind - a nonfiction story of homesteading in the Alaska wilderness with her parents and four siblings, told through letters by her mother and remembered accounts from the family.

7 responses »

  1. I know you hated to fly in the present situation. I hope not to fly for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story. Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I just hate flying. My wife doesn’t mind as long as it isn’t much longer than 5 hours in the air, then she gets claustrophobic.


  4. These pictures are amazing. I haven’t flown in a while but remember how stressful it can be. I would never check in luggage…if it didn’t fit into my carry-on, it didn’t come. Teaches you a thing or two about what one really needs.

    I’m so glad you’re home safe and sound.

    And what a great piece 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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