My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, July 7

To Fly or to Drive: That Is the Question

For one last hurrah with class reunions at our old home town, we just took what most likely will be our last airline flight. I realize that terrorist threats now make extreme security at airports a necessary evil, with hours of checking in and going through security check points. But what was once a simple, even enjoyable experience is now painfully complicated, requiring so much time one might arrive at one’s destination by car in only a little more time than by plane. And the standing in line for as much as an hour plays hell on someone my age with a polymialgic back.

We flew on Allegiant Airlines out of Mesa, Arizona, a smaller airline but one aggressively striving to get bigger, with what were originally fares well below the larger airlines. My main complaint now is with Allegiant and probably not with the other airlines. First, Allegiant charges extra for almost everything, and what is supposed to be economical is no longer a good deal when all the extras are added in. We paid extra for each of our carry-on bags, extra for our pre-boarding seat assignments, extra for early boarding, and quite a bit extra for any snacks or drinks we might have during the flight. The seat sizes are now uncomfortably tiny, making a three-hour flight seem like a day in a medieval torture chamber. We had opted for (and paid extra for) two seats in the right front row, thinking that the extra leg room would make it worthwhile. We boarded and found a very large and talkative fellow in the aisle seat. I was in the window seat and poor Rosalie in the middle, with large talker sort of sprawled into his seat and half of Rosalie’s. I promised her that on the return flight she could have the window and I’d take the middle. Making good on my promise, on the return flight we found our seats and then a very large (that’s a euphemism for corpulently obese) man sort of smiled at me as he stowed his carry-on, then plumped himself into the aisle seat. I have no idea how he managed to squeeze his very large butt between the arm rests. And, oh, how he wanted to chat. I’m not a chatter, especially with fatties I don’t know. I sat there looking straight ahead or out the window to the right. One must never make eye-contact with a talker or they’ll forever have you pinned like a butterfly. I wasn’t looking forward to nearly three hours sitting in a tiny, only slightly cushioned seat, shoulders hunched forward, leaning to the right into Rosalie’s space. Three hours of avoiding empty conversation. I’m not a great believer in the power of prayer, but just before takeoff, the airline attendant, a tiny, attractive woman of Asiatic or Polynesian descent, asked fat man if he’d be willing to move to seat 3A. Something about distributing passenger weight so that the plane didn’t do an unplanned header. He moved and a slender, silent woman took his place. Oh, thank you, Powers That Be, for sending corpulence away and replacing him with slender silence.

The trip was bearable although still uncomfortably tight. Which leads me to my other complaint. Allegiant, to increase their profits has taken their A319 planes and converted them from three seats left and two seats right to three seats on both sides. That meant shrinking the three on the left, shrinking the aisle, and shrinking the two on the right to accommodate that extra row of seats, making what was once acceptable although still uncomfortable into spaces that are little better than straightjackets.
If we were ever to fly anywhere again, we would choose a larger airline with first-class seating. Damn the expense. Give me a seat like on the Lear jet the folks on Criminal Minds fly.

Other flight complaints. Unless one is a frequent flier, one doesn’t know all the short cuts for expediting check-in. When we left from Mesa, we already had our boarding passes downloaded the night before and we had no luggage to check. We stood in line for thirty minutes only to find that we could have gone through security and skipped the check-in line. Duh! On our return flight from Bismarck, we stood in line for thirty minutes only to find a sign just before the security check that told us that children under 12, military personnel, and folks 75 and older could use the expedited line. Duh! Well, why would that informative sign be posted just ahead of the final step? Duh and Duh! And all the phone apps that allow fliers to put their boarding passes on their phones. I’m still ignorant of cell phones and all their applications. I’m sure most old folks are in the same boat. And what about the size of carry-ons? Why can’t airlines simply put an end to carry-ons? And the number of tiny children now flying. Where do the airlines store all the large strollers I see coming aboard?
And the really obese people. How do they squeeze in all that corpulence? Hey, lady, how're you going to get that tray down so you can eat all those snacks you've brought aboard? I'm sure she'll figure something out. We’ve come to a time that almost one in three people can be categorized as obese and you don't want to find yourself in the middle seat between two of them.

We rented a Chevy Malibu from Enterprise and stopped at Perkins, our usual watering hole on the two-hour trip south to Mobridge, South Dakota. There we watched North Dakota farmers at table after table simply shoveling food into their mouths. Is it fact or just my imagination that restaurant meals have gotten bigger and bigger? Is it just my aging appetite that’s shrunk or are these huge platters of food the same as when I was young? I know I can no longer eat more than half of any entrĂ©e on the menu. I also know that I’ll probably never again book a flight from here to anywhere. At least not on Allegiant Airlines.

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