I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3


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20 responses to “flying

  1. I’m not fond of traveling. It’s not even the plane, crashing or being hundreds of miles up in the sky. It’s all the preparation, packing, arranging, waiting in security, flight cancellations, etc. But as you know, I usually find a lonely soldier to talk to. Makes it all worth while. I may try the little bottles of booze. I’m fond of rum and coke.

    • Lots of hassles in travelling , yeah . It’s part of the overall experience . But , as you say , you seem to know how to turn even some of the hassles into interesting time .

  2. Susan and I, years ago, took the Amtrak from Portland to Los Angeles, the Starlight Special, the old cars, the ones you could walk out of and open the top half of the Dutch door in between cars and get the breeze and the air of the country you were traveling through. Anyway, on this particular trip, we got stopped in the Cascades somewhere between Eugene and Klamath Falls. It seems a freight train had derailed somewhere ahead of us, and we could not move on. We sat at a standstill for over four hours. But we were treated to a free dinner meal in the dining car. I remember I had salmon and a glass of maroon red wine, the trees filling with snow outside the stopped train. It was a wonderful trip, though it took well over a day to get to LA from Portland.

  3. eddiebe9

    glad they let you bring on the scotch.

  4. Attempting to land in Madeira and the pilot missed or…something, anyway he had to go around again. I hate flying so much and this provided a cherry on top of the icing on the cake. When he finally managed to get the thing on the ground the other passengers applauded. Above that you could hear me shouting: “Why are they clapping, the useless b****** had one f***ing job to do…”

    • At least no one’s shootin’ at us while we are flying .That’s something , I guess .Thanks for the comment . I been on a few ” clapping ” flights, too . I know just what you mean .

  5. Great story, Dan. I wish we traveled more but the other half simply refuses to fly – no ifs, ands or buts – won’t even talk about it. (By the way – I could not bring your pictures up, you haven’t deleted them from the media library have you?)

    • About the pictures : I may have —- before I figured out how that works. Ada and I don’t fly much . We prefer road trips. But , it’s hard to drive to some places — the oceans get in the way .

  6. Hi – I came here by way of your comment on Dan Antion’s post. I occasionally like to check out bloggers who follow bloggers I follow!

    This was a good flight post – especially enjoyed your blip about British rolling R accents because my most recent post is about “accent encounters”, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the number of comments from people who have a good accent story.

    Keeping that tip about the scotch bottle in mind for my next flight.

  7. What a fascinating story, it definitely caught my attention. I smiled about the Germans. Well, life is full of adventures, isn’t it.

  8. Ah, the joys of air travel. I was on one of those flights that threatened a belly landing. Our landing gear came down but didn’t lock. It was freaky seeing all the fire engines lining the runway. We didn’t crash but did need to be towed from the runway. The scariest part was that on my return trip that evening, the airline employees didn’t know what had happened that morning. Makes me wonder how often this happens and we just don’t hear about it. They had to reroute me to my destination due to a spate of bad luck. The last leg of a long day was on a cheapo flight at midnight in an old prop plane. The seats were folding chairs bolted to the floor. I felt like Indiana Jones. 🙂

  9. I’m visiting via Dan Anton and quite frankly I don’t remember how I ended up here at this post, but it has been the most entertaining read.

    You had me laughing out loud … I think it started somewhere around “My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey”, followed very quickly by the pirate-sounding pilot 😀

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