Flights of fancy

It’s time to ‘head home for the holidays’, as they say, which means it must be time for another airport nightmare. I’ve commented before about how abysmal it is now to have to fly. What gets me is that each time there is something a little different that occurs that makes me wonder who really are the sane and who are the insane.

Let’s deal with this chronologically. It all begins with the trip to the airport. Our cab arrived on time at 6am, and had no problems finding our house–a first. As usual, however, no amount of prior notice about the luggage we had seemed to prepare the driver to clear the trunk of his junk and the front seat of his stuff, so we were again trying to squeeze our bags into the man’s car. As is also often the case, the driver was old and had trouble lifting the bags. But we got away on time. But, wait. Why did it seem after 10 minutes that we had not moved? Aha! He was scared of the fiendish traffic cameras on one stretch and he hugged 24 miles an hour as if he were due to win a prize for taking one hour to get us to the airport. As soon as we got out of that neighbourhood, he put down his foot and revved the car like a Formula One racer. It was now a case of hurtling through empty streets as if we were headed for the emergency room of a hospital.

So, we reach check in for US Air and are greeted by banks of self-service machines. I looked on as my wife tried to swipe first her credit card, then our various passports. It seemed to take an age and judging by the wrinkling of my good lady’s brow, more brain cells than were prepared to be engaged before 7am. As one member of the counter staff looked on, I wondered what role they had these days. Apparently, you need them to pull out the luggage tags and interact with the computer to get it to work when it dies or when you get stuck. “I guess it makes things more efficient,” my wife said, as we wheeled the bags to the area to be loaded. I had my doubts. If you are no technophobe, then it can be smooth. But, if ordinary passengers are baffled by a set of simple tasks (or holding some documents that are not machine-readable), as my wife was, then I think you have the makings of a system that must be a bit spiky in terms of productivity. “What is supposed to happen if your bags are overweight once you’ve made the first pass with the credit card and paid?” My wife asked me. “Discretion comes into play, my dear,” I quipped. Such systems were reported to save the airlines about 95 percent in terms of the costs of processing passengers. I guess we will have to grin and bear it.

So, on to security checks. I discovered today that (at least at Reagan National) children under the age of 12 do not have to take off their shoes when passing the security checks. What suddenly happens at 11 years and 364 days that stops small children being innocents in the eyes of terrorism deterrence to becoming villains? It couldn’t possibly just be a bit of arbitrary nonsense? You’d think that any terrorist organization that could think and wanted to use children in the US would merely recruit those under 12 years of age.

So, onto the flight, and after delving into my own Kindle library of material to read, I thought I would scour quickly the in-flight offerings. I have glanced at the SkyMall magazine in the past and not found much in there to laugh at, but it seems that ahead of Christmas and other winter holidays, their selection has gone absolutely bonkers. Do you really want skeleton gnomes adorning your garden? How about some zombie sculpture…yeti…mannequin pis?  Does your dog or cat really need a mahogany townhaus? A must…not.

Take a look for yourself online, or if you are in-flight, grab a copy to amuse you over coming days. You may want to do some last-minute Christmas shopping from this catalogue. Take a look at the giant sports chair: really family size.

The Brobdingnagian sports chair did not feature in your life before? It measures 5 ½ feet in height, and has an area of 9 sq ft, and weighs a mere 35 lbs.

Who cares about the price of these items? But who buys most of that stuff?

I tried to get into a Zen mood from Friday so that I could really enjoy the holidays. It’s been a challenge today but once I get to the Caribbean, I will see how things go.

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About The Grasshopper

Professional international economist, recently retired from an international organization. I use blogging as a way of organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, and spent many years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for a few decades, and worked and travelled abroad extensively. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of girls. Also, married to an economist.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Caribbean, Digital age, Economics, Internet, Life styles, Service economy, Technology, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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