It is admittedly hard to complain too hard when one has just enjoyed a tasty cod dinner and been plied with all the bottled water and sprite that one can drink and is sitting in a comfortable first class seat on an Alaska Airlines flight to Anchorage looking at a gorgeous sunset out of the window (as I am doing right now as I type this using the airplane wifi). That does not mean that travel is without its delays and inconveniences, though. It is not to say that they are particularly serious for me, but certainly not all of the other people around me have been as fortunate, so let us go back to the beginning, so to speak, as things are obviously going well for me at the moment.
The first decision one must make when it comes to traveling to the airport is how one will go. There are a lot of options that one can choose among. One can drive oneself and park in the economy lot and then make your way. One can go Uber (as I did), or get a ride some other way, or one can (at least from where I live), take a relatively convenient but also slow MAX train ride. I was fortunate in choosing to go Uber, even if it was a bit more spendy than the option to go on MAX, because it took far longer to get through security than it should have been, and that caused some major delays. Since I was going to the last gate in terminal C, the fact that the security for the combined terminals B and C were being staffed by only two people for most of the time I was in line was a major inconvenience. It was not until I had been in the line for some time–explaining to some people whose flight was earlier than mine who were on their way back home to Denver that the security line was usually not that slow. It was so slow, in fact, that there was cheering when someone else started working, and by the time I went through the line to talk about my gouty feet (not being too bad today) and the cane I had with me (just in case) with the man at the x-ray machine another person had started work and the line was moving pretty well at that point.
As it happened, the security line had taken long enough that I had just enough time to eat a late lunch because I wasn’t sure what sort of food would be provided the rest of the way, and I chose to stop at Potbelly’s, a place I have wanted to try that is near where I live but which I have not had the chance to stop at. I have to say that I was pleased with the meal I had, which included a bowl of chicken pot pie soup (yummy), and a grilled chicken and cheddar cheese sub with lettuce, Italian seasoning, and oil on a multigrain bun, with some plain potato chips, washed down with a bottle of IBC root beer. It was a good meal all around, but one I did not have a long time to eat, because as soon as I got to the end of the C terminal to my gate, the gate crew was looking for about twenty volunteers to let their bags be gate checked because they did not have enough room for it in the small regional jet we flew in from Portland to Seattle.
That flight proved to be an interesting one, as I was seated in the first seat of the economy class next to someone who had a dramatic tale of woe that he shared with me and which I patiently listened to. As he found the space for his backpack and other carry on bag, as well as his pizza and drink, he let me know that he had not slept much the previous night because while he was in Minneapolis visiting the city for his sister’s wedding–he was returning to Honolulu–he had been robbed at gunpoint and lost about $1000 as well as all of his cards and id. He explained that the TSA had apparently heard of quite a few people dealing with the same problem and he wanted to make sure he at least kept his work laptop to be able to do his work in the absence of his cell phone and wallet. I felt for the person but was also glad he was still able to get home despite what must have been a very unpleasant and traumatic experience. During our short 40 minute flight, I let him rest a good part of the flight.
I was struck, however short the flight was, by the poisonous envy one feels when one sees other people be served drinks–even if they barely had time to drink them–when one sits thirsty only a few people away, even though the cabin had been told that there was no time to serve drinks to the plane, even if there was enough time, barely, to serve drinks to the first class section. I was struck by how it was that the only people who could see the first class receive the favorable treatment (that they paid for, it should be noted) were those who had paid some amount to have four extra inches of legroom to sit in the preferred economy class. It is truly those who have some privileges but see others who have more who are far more envious than those who have none at all. This is worth reflecting about.
It is also worth reflecting on the fact that the plane I am currently on, making its way to Anchorage (as I write this, we are more than halfway there), was delayed for a bit of time after all the passengers came on the flight because of a mechanical fault that led to a chemical smell when the water was used and thus led to the turning off of all faucets, including those in the toilets, and to concerns about the ability to drink water in the plane (thankfully, there were bottles of water) as well as to be clean (some people are more enthusiastic than I am about hand sanitizer and wipes). The delay has at least one positive outcome, in that provided more time for my luggage to arrive from an ambitiously short layover. I know that Alaska Airlines is the newest airlines in the One World family, but there is no need for them to be in a hurry to emulate the flagship airlines of that alliance, American Airlines, about whom much has been said here already.