Tag Archives: air travel

Hands down

When you think ‘New York City,’ you think expensive.  But there is one thing you can buy in my adopted hometown cheaper than anywhere else I’ve traveled…

…and that’s a manicure.

It’s true.  The nail salons in Manhattan, with their mani/pedi specials, have ruined me for any other city.  Not that I get them that often.  But when I get a hankering to treat myself special, the salons in my ‘hood deliver the goods at a very reasonable price.

Just yesterday I had a layover in the San Francisco airport before my red-eye to JFK.  It was the perfect time to try XpresSpa, a chain of quick manicure/pedicure/massage salons that have popped up at airports all over the country.

I wheelied myself over to the storefront in my terminal and was gratified to see a $10 off special for the mani/pedi combo – perfect!  But then I got a look at the price — $90 for the set!

Say wha??

At my Upper West Side salon, you can get the combo for $25.  Even with the XpresSpa coupon, we’re still talking $80 before tip.  Yowza.

My fingers and toes can wait to be pampered until I get home to NYC.

Where things are CHEAP.

Road weary

I fly a lot.  Depending on my work schedule, I am sometimes in a different city each day.

With air travel what it is today, you’d wonder if it would be a the drudgery.  And I’ll admit — there are weeks when I question my choice of employment.

But stick me in a car for more than two hours and — Jesus Christ Mercy — I am craving the site of an airport terminal gate!

How can writers in good conscious romanticize the endless monotony of the open road? The ‘bump bump bump’ of the tires crossing the pavement? The summer construction that chokes traffic? The sudden storms? The sun’s piercing glare? The boredom that eventually defeats even the best conversationalist?

I just don’t get it.

Orbitz.com, you’ll be hearing from me very soon.

This blog entry was written on a four-hour road trip between Boston and New York City at the end of a very long day.

Rainy days

It’s raining, so I must be flying somewhere.

That a bit whiny, I know.

I’ve never been one to mind the rain or let the rain affect my mood.  In fact, I’ve always liked rainy days.  Rory sleeps in a bit longer, and he doesn’t like to walk in the rain like a Golden Retriever or Lab might.  That gives me some extra time in the morning that I don’t normally have to get things done.

It’s a win-win.

But on travel days, rain just kinda mucks up the works.

It’s harder to hail a cab…’cause even the locals don’t want to walk on rainy days.  When I get to the airport, it’s filled with other slightly damp, even-more-rushed-than-usual people trying to get through security to their gate.

And once they are through?

Well, they’ll probably sit and wait because the rain will more often than not delay their flight.  And then they’re grouchy and mouthy with the poor gate agents.  It’s not pretty to watch.

Man, this is a fun blog entry. Clearly, the rain doesn’t affect my mood at all…except maybe on travel days.

Come on, sun!

Air space

So, I’m standing in Hudson News at DFW this afternoon, pretending to select a magazine (but really in a bit of a post-meeting fog), when the lights in the airport newsstand suddenly appeared to dim.

It wasn’t an emergency situation, or even a passing storm.  No, the tallest airline pilot I have ever seen in my life stood next to me and temporarily blotted out the light!

I kid you not — this guy must have been seven feet tall!  I spent the rest of my time at the racks watching him stare at magazines and wondered…

How the heck does he fit in that teeny tiny cockpit??

Granted, in the post-9/11 era, none of us are doing cockpit tours a la “Airplane!”  But from the quickest of peeks that I’ve taken when boarding, their ride looks even more cramped than mine back in coach.

So, I did what I always do when I have a question — I turn to Google.  According to airlinepilotforums.com, all jets have adjustable rudder pedals and seats.  So, presumably, even the Goliath pilot that was purchasing woodworking mags earlier today has legroom during his flight.

So, now I know.  And now you know.

And when I get on my flight today, I’m going to ask the flight attendant where my adjustable rudder pedals are!

Cab with a view

My good friends Jeff and Vikki are visiting this week.  Their two kids are on spring break, and they wanted to show them New York City for the very first time.

Do you know the first thing their daughter said to me about the Big Apple?

“We had a TV in our cab!”

I’m not sure how many cities have Taxi TV;  I’ve seen it in NYC and Boston.  It’s a good way to pass the time between the airport and home…that is, if you don’t mind reruns (the programming is on a 15-minute loop).

Since I live in Manhattan, I have always considered it a good source for local news and weather.  Also, if my cellphone has died for some reason, it keeps me entertained.  It takes a good 25-30 minutes to get from LaGuardia to my apartment on the Upper West Side.

But for brand spanking new tourists who have just arrived in New York City, I hate to think of their eyes glued to that tiny TV monitor.  They should be staring out the window in wonderment at all the sights and sounds of the city.

There is an off button on that Taxi TV.  I use it quite often.

Look out the window, people.  New York City is the greatest show on earth.

First, ya’ll

To paraphrase Katy Perry:

“I flew first class, and I liked it.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve been in the ‘uppity-up’ cabin before.  As a frequent flier for American Airlines, I earned points to travel first class from time to time.

But now that I am an elite member of Delta Airlines, they bestow first class on me whenever they have capacity (and no one higher up on the food chain is in the way).  It’s like this little gift that appears at the gate when they swipe my ticket.  Such joy!

This week, I’ve been upgraded on pretty much every flight — and there have been a lot of them — so I’m kinda getting used to it.

Now, first class is fairly stripped down these days.  On most flights, you are no longer guaranteed a meal or even warmed nuts (my personal favorite).  The drinks are still free, of course, and you board early.

But I think the two reasons first class will always be popular is the space and better service.  Being able to stretch out is such a luxury, and I’ve rarely met a flight attendant in first who wasn’t pleasant and helpful.

First class is like taking a tiny trip to the South every time you sit there.  Open spaces.  Friendly people.

And, oh yeah — the liquor.

Sleepy time

I’m headed home today…or I was, until my early morning flight was delayed almost 2 1/2 hours.

The reason?  The crew got in late last night and needs their sleep.

I shouldn’t gripe about this.  All travelers should feel safer knowing that the airlines require a minimum amount of down time for pilots and attendants between flights.  That way, we avoid those embarrassing ‘flying past the city’ incidents because the crew is having a pajama party in the cockpit.

Heck, even my cab driver in Lexington told me he is required to have a minimum of three hours of sleep every 16 hours.  (I smiled and nodded and then got out at the next corner.)

It says a lot about our society that we have to set requirements for people in transportation jobs to make sure they get enough sleep.  We just don’t value sleep enough to get much of it on our own.

I just wish other industries felt as strongly about sleep to ensure that their employees — and consultants — had their eight hours.  Most of the time, we wear our lack of sleep like a badge of honor instead.

So, to make my contribution toward a more well-rested society, I plan to sleep on the plane all the way to New York City.

Do your part — take a nap at your desk!

Insecurity

Have you ever gone through security at the airport and felt a little bad for the TSA personnel?

I know I have.

I think their job looks mind-numbingly boring and yet, at the same time, they could potentially prevent (or accidentally allow) a catastrophic event.

The responsibility must weigh heavily on their shoulders because many of them wear a very dour expression.  You know me — I’ll strike up a conversation with just about anyone, and I’ve tried to be friendly with them.  But most of the time, they are just not in the mood.

Today, though, I met a TSA agent who has decided to have fun with her job.

I was flying very early.  The line in security was light.  After I walked through the metal detector, a female agent — we’ll call her Tammy — pulled me aside to do a pat down.

I was kinda surprised to receive this attention since I hadn’t set off any sensors.  I was also wearing a fairly fitted turtle neck and jeans, so it wasn’t like I could hide anything anywhere.

As I was collecting my items afterwards at the conveyor belt, I noticed Tammy giving pat downs to lots of females in the line.

Was she told to give women extra attention by her supervisors?  Was she simply bored?

Or does this TSA agent just really like her job?

Passengers can’t really speak up anymore because any smart remarks or outbursts can get you kicked off your flight.  So, who’s to know the real motivation here?

Tickle-Me-Tammy and her reign of terror could go unchecked for years.

Editor’s Note: This is how rumors get started.

Small is good

I grew up in a very, very small town.

And I spent most of my childhood trying to figure out how to get out of there.

(This will come as no surprise to my family and friends.  I have talked about being a ‘city kid trapped in the country’ since I was probably nine years old.)

I feel more comfortable in big cities.  Something ‘clicks’ in my brain there.  I think big cities and I operate at the same speed.

But today I want to salute the not-so-big city of Cincinnati.  Specifically, their airport, which is located in Northern Kentucky.

I flew through there today en route to business in Louisville.  We landed in Cincy in blowing snow.  Minimal visibility.  Snow piled on either side of the runway.

And yet, we landed.  Without drama.  Without incident.  And pretty much on time.

And while my connecting flight to Louisville left a bit late — our plane got stuck at the gate and required extra effort to be pushed back; plus, the plane was de-iced as the weather necessitated — we took off from the Cincinnati Airport, and I made my way on to Louisville.

LaGuardia — my hometown airport in faraway, fabulous New York City — closes when it is windy.  Closes when it starts to rain.  Just closes.

Cincy kicked NYC’s bottom today.

Small is mighty!  Small is good!

Pay it forward

You’ve heard the saying “you get what you give?”

Last night felt like a textbook example.

I was on an extremely crowded flight from Miami to LaGuardia in a window seat near the back of the plane.  I know window seats are coveted by many, but I’m an aisle seat gal — the ‘power seat.’  I can get out when I want, stretch my legs out in the aisle, and make a run for it when we land.

But alas, last night I was in the window seat.  Not long after I had gotten settled, the woman in the middle seat asked if I would swap seats with her mom who was in a window seat a few rows back.  Sure, why not?  They were grateful, and I was happy to do it.

Not long after I had moved my things, the man sitting in the middle seat asked if I would consider swapping with his friend, who had an aisle seat.  Absolutely!

I was feeling the good karma wash over me.

I sat down, got comfortable, and then the man in the middle seat turned to me.  “Uh oh,” I thought. “If he asks me to move, that’s really going to be a test.”

Turns out he and his wife were looking for transportation advice upon arrival to Hoboken, New Jersey. During our conversation, I discovered she and I grew up literally miles from each other.  They were returning home to D.C. from their honeymoon cruise, but their flight home had been canceled due to weather. So they diverted to LaGuardia to visit with friends until they could fly home on Monday.

By the time we hit NYC, I offered to let them share my cab into Manhattan, and then they continued on to Hoboken.

One simple act of kindness — swapping seats — netted me new friends Adam and Ruth, originally from Carbondale, Illinois.

Congrats on your marriage, guys, and enjoy your unexpected trip to the New York area.