Dragon Con: Day 4  

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Warning: This post is mostly rant.

Day 4 was my travel day. My flight didn't leave until noon, but since nothing starts up at the con until at least 10:00, that meant no con activities for me.

I decided to get up early, get a good breakfast, and repack before heading to the airport three hours before my flight. Well, I left the hotel about 3 hours before, but there was travel time and it was a holiday and I had no idea how busy the Atlanta airport would be.

Breakfast was fine. I forgot to bring a book with me, so I ate alone and watched the people at a table near me. They were there for the con obviously as many were dressed in costume. Their order was completely screwed up and the waitress kept bringing by the wrong food. I didn't get the right thing either, so I'm guessing it had nothing to do with it being a large table of people.

I had mostly packed the night before, but I decided after breakfast to stuff everything into my suitcase and check it and only bring a small bag on the plane with anything valuable. I normally never check luggage. I hate having to wait for it after the flight. I hate knowing that it might get lost or damaged. But I do have to say it worked out this one time. I didn't have to lug a heavy suitcase around with me all day.

Airport check-in was mostly fine. Air Tran ticket agents can't print tickets. When I left to come out to Atlanta all I brought with me was my boarding ticket for my flight out. I forgot to print out the information the return flight information. I called Matt before I left and got the flight number and time it left because I only vaguely remembered. The ticket kiosk wouldn't let me print a boarding pass without the confirmation number even though I swiped my credit card to bring up the flight information. So I go to the ticketing agent who writes down the confirmation number and sends me back in line to print my ticket. Then I have to go back to her after I have a ticket to check my bag. That's pretty a pretty stupid way to handle check-in if you ask me. Of course since I don't normally check luggage I usually just walk straight to security because I usually print my boarding pass before I leave for the airport.

Anyway, the line for security was long, but not terribly long. Of course if I had upgraded to first class I could have gone through first class security. That's right. The Atlanta airport has a special security line for first class, business class, and special assistance customers. I know it shouldn't irritate me, but it did. (The special assistance part doesn't bother me at all incidentally.) Why do first class customers get preferential treatment when it comes to security? If I flew first class all the time I'm sure I'd be glad, but I'm a curmudgeon and I want all of the rich people to suffer along with the rest of us cattle.

I hate security. I'm not afraid of flying, but I absolutely hate security. I just always feel like a criminal when I go through the checkpoint. I know that's probably not the intent, but it's the result.

I used to fly a lot for business many years ago. I'd fly several times a week out to client sites and I loved flying then. Security was still there and I still had to go through the metal detector and have my luggage scanned, but I didn't get treated like dirt. I didn't have to worry about packing all my liquids in small containers or carrying fingernail clippers. The people around me were generally in a good mood and most of all, I didn't feel like a criminal.

I didn't get the pat down this time through security like I did on the way out. Seriously, I never take anything metal with me through security. I don't even wear jeans because of the zipper (and button and rivets). I wear flip-flops that are easy to take off. I never set off the alarm, but I almost always get a pat down.

Here's the thing about me. I like following the rules. I just need the rules to be clear. One of the things that drives me crazy is getting admonished for doing something wrong when I had no idea that what I did was wrong. Make what I'm supposed to do clear to me and I'll do everything exactly the way you want it. Make things unclear and you get one pissed off bitch.

So I'm sailing to my gate and I'm two hours early. I stop and get a drink and settle down to wait. I have a good book. The worst (security) is behind me. I get surrounded by a family that has a very public fight right there next to me. I ignore it. There's a lady that sits of the floor next to me eating a sandwich making grunting noises. I ignore it. It sucks to be at the airport. No one likes it. I can't expect normal.

Finally boarding is called. I paid extra to get an exit row. See what I mean about if I had first class I wouldn't complain about preferential treatment with security? I'm a hypocrite in that sense. But let me explain. When you book a flight on Air Tran you can pay $5 extra to get a seat assignment at the time of booking. Otherwise you're assigned a seat when you check in. I'm no dummy. I don't want to sit in the middle seat. I paid to have a window seat on my way out. It's $15 to get a seat assignment in an exit row. When I was booking I figured I might have more luggage on my return, so I selected an exit row for the comfort and extra room.

I'm in the first group for boarding. I get buckled in, shove my bag under the seat in front of me, and settle in to read while people are filing in. I can be patient. After all, the worst is behind me. In two and a half hours I'll be getting off the plane on the other side, collecting my luggage and heading home. Right? I'll have most of the day to spend with my husband before I have to go back to work the next day. I'm at peace with the world.

Just before the doors close the flight attendant seats a guy next to me. He's very tall, so I understand. It has to suck for a tall guy to squeeze into the tiny rows of an airplane. Except he smells. And there are only two seats on my row and he's right next to me. All weekend my sense of smell has been extremely acute. And now I have to sit next to someone who's been sweating for probably hours. Of course I start complaining in my head about how this guy got an exit row seat for free. How unfair! I realize how extremely selfish I am, but I still hate the thought of the flight home.

The captain comes online and tells us that there's a maintenance problem and it will be 20 minutes at least until we leave. I turn on my iPod and notice that it's already 10 minutes past when we were scheduled to take off. Great. Thoughts of sitting on the plane for 7 hours flash through my mind. But I convince myself that it will be OK. I have a good book. 20 minutes isn't so bad.

30 minutes later we're told that the maintenance problem can't be resolved and we're being sent to a new gate. Everyone gets up, but we can't get off yet. We have to wait for the plane to arrive at the other gate. We wait 10-15 minutes. I call my husband and tell him I'll be at least an hour late.

I finally get off the plane and rush to the other gate. I'm almost running. Looking back at it I'm not sure why I was in such a hurry. I get there and we have to wait for the flight attendants to board first. Everyone applauds when the reach the gate. We board. I get back to reading. The tall guy never shows up again and I'm slightly happier. Poor guy.

The fight was uneventful itself. We land. I hope my luggage was transferred. It was. 45 minutes later I'm home. And I'm so happy I forget all of my frustrations with flying until I write this.

Unfortunately I have to fly again later this year.

See also
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

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