I’ve just returned from another long flight across the Atlantic . The flight dropped at least two hours behind schedule because , as far as I could overhear and observe , the loading ramp cables were screwed up and couldn’t be adjusted or repaired until the fix-it technicians arrived and the ramp couldn’t be used until then.
Either that or the flight crew was desperately trying to sober-up the pilot in time for the flight .
Meanwhile , all of us patient passengers waiting at the gate were abruptly herded out of our seats ( most of us had seats ; some didn’t ) and chased out into the main hall . A couple of security officers then spent five or ten minutes searching our now-vacated seats near the gate , on , under , and around , as if we might have hidden our weapons and explosives under the seat and not kept them in our pockets or in our carry-on luggage . Could it be that terrorists’ main goal is to destroy waiting rooms and not , as previously thought , aircraft ?
This has happened to me before . Last time , before they allowed the passengers to resettle in the waiting room near the gate , they called a few names . They called mine . I am generally , I guess , an optimist , and so I thought that maybe I would be seated onboard first for some reason . It could happen . Ada , more down-to-earth , said no , that’s not going to happen .
Instead , they escorted me into a small security office and searched my carry-on bag . In there I had some of Ada’s clothes . I also had an empty green duffel bag which was unfolded carefully as if it might accidentally and suddenly detonate at any moment . I had a pair of my dirty socks and boxer shorts in there too . The security official , to her credit , caught her breath and hesitated for only a couple of seconds , made no rude comments , and then released me . I would have given a penny for her thoughts , however . She might have been thinking : some kind of a weird sicko , but no terrorist .
So here we go again . I explained the procedure to an American guy standing next to me . ” And then they’ll check a few of us , ” I said . He whined about going through several security checks already . ” And , we’ll have to wait again , ” I said .
” Sounds like you’ve been through this before ,” he said . Yeah , but only in Oslo . Last time the security people explained to us that this curious procedure was ” required by the Americans ” ( the flight would be headed to Los Angeles ) I wonder . Wouldn’t doubt it .
In passing , I might note that being two extra hours in Oslo airport added to the scheduled three hour layover , I decided to have a beer . In Scandinavia there is plenty of beer but most people need to take a second mortgage out on their house to afford it . Not like in Poland where I had just come from , where beer is still cheap ( and so am I , so it’s a good match ) . I put my car and my cat down as collateral and bought a beer in a plastic cup at the little snack shop in the secure area of the Oslo airport . Sometimes a person has got do things he/she wouldn’t ordinarily do under normal circumstances.
Despite the recent rash of airline abuse of passengers , I am not afraid to fly . Looking at it practically , of all of the millions of customers , the airlines only beat up and drag off a few . There was a woman on an American flight who was hit with her baby’s stroller by an employee , of course , but how often is that likely to happen ? The incident that troubles me most , though , was the man on the Delta flight who was kicked off of the flight for having to use the toilet when the plane , instead of taking off , taxied around the tarmac for a long period of time . I put myself right in that guy’s place .
Dragging a guy down the aisle and clubbing a woman with a stroller , well , that’s bound to happen once in awhile in the normal course of business . Right ? Like losing a bag here and there . Nobody’s perfect .
But not letting a person pee is going too far if you ask me . These airline folks like to sternly announce when the restrooms are about to be locked , too , toward the end of flights . I wonder if they lock the First Class toilets at the same time as the economy class ones . I suspect that the crew have their own secret toilet , anyway , behind that locked door off the galley and they use it any time they feel the need , especially when the passenger toilets are locked up tight and that assigned steward or stewardess is sitting on that little jump seat and staring at the economy rows of peons and showing that insulting little patronizing smirk most of them seem to have . Staring down the huddled masses is a little incentive , I suppose , a little extra perk that the airline business offers to their employees , I imagine .
And another thing that irritates me in flight is the recorded description about what a marvelous aircraft this is , how it has several restrooms some fore , some aft , some centrally located . ( The recording doesn’t mention the subsequently announced warning not to use toilets ” out of your class ” , however , or other restrictions , or the toilet lock-down ) , about how the overhead bins have been redesigned and enlarged and made so roomy to make all of the carry-on baggage comfortable in flight . Meanwhile , we economy passengers are crammed tightly and uncomfortably into our tiny travel spaces , sharing hard plastic armrests with fellow victims , being jabbed and rocked by the person sitting behind us as he or she attempts to settle somehow into the tiny tuna can space . How about redesigning this , and treating passengers with a lot more respect , instead of counting only corporate profits .
I know the next profit-maximizing plan is to charge a fee even to use the toilet . You think I’m kidding ? That might be when I stop flying , but I expect the typical airline customer to say , well , that’s the way it is now . What can you do !