United Airlines Flight #3448 You Crazy

The holidays sidetracked my work on the blog a bit, but now I’m finally getting around to writing what I meant to post three weeks ago.

This year, I actually had vacation time to burn when Christmas rolled around, so I took a trip home. Home was great, but my flight to and from Chicago was just weird and awesome. It would be a crime not to share.

The Surprising:

For once, I had no travel problems on my way to the airport.

When I visited my brother for the Fourth of July last year, my drive to the airport, which normally takes an hour and a half (two hours on a bad day), took more than three hours due to construction.

When I got to the economy parking lot at Kansas City International Airport, it took another 15 minutes for the shuttle to pick me up. I know that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it turned out to be the difference between me missing and making my flight. I missed my check in by five minutes.

I had to wait another two hours just for a chance to fly standby and ended up being the second to last person to get a seat.

But this time there was hardly any traffic, and the shuttle showed up right after I parked my car. It was unprecedented.

The Strange and Hilarious:

Since I overcalculated how much time I would need to get to the airport after previous travel disasters, I had plenty of time to grab some $8 airport beers.

Now there’s a man of the cloth who can drink.

I sat down at the bar of some generic, sports-themed restaurant and ordered the best Budweiser I’ve ever had. It wasn’t really the best Budweiser I’ve ever had, but considering what I paid for it, I’m forcing myself to believe it was.

A few minutes later a priest in full regalia, collar, black Snuggie, rosary beads and everything, sat down next to me.

Now, what would you expect a Catholic priest to order? Red wine? Whiskey?

Well, if you guessed wine or whiskey, you would be wrong. If you guessed margarita, you would be correct.

It was strange for me to see a priest order my middle-aged mother’s drink of choice, but he wasn’t messing around. He absolutely slammed that thing. I was halfway done with my beer when I looked over to see him draining the last bits of liquid from his glass.

Then, as if he were trying his hardest to look more out of place at the bar, he ordered a Manhattan. At that point, I had to leave before I laughed in his face; I didn’t need that sort of bad juju before a flight.

The Not-So Surprising

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Going through security at the airport universally sucks. Asking people in a rush to put all  their belongings  into plastic buckets, while insisting they move quickly through the line without belts and shoes isn’t an efficient way to do anything.

Asking them to choose between the super x-ray cancer machine and getting to second base with a burly TSA agent named Phyllis doesn’t help matters.

 But for all that hassle, the TSA agents didn’t even enforce what I thought was supposed to be one of the most important procedures.

You’re supposed to put all your liquids and gels (up to 3 oz.) in a transparent 1-quart bag. I did that. But you’re also supposed to take that bag out of your suitcase at the security checkpoint. I did not do that–at either airport.

So good job TSA!

The Annoying:

“We’d have better luck playing pick up sticks with our butt cheeks.”

I had a window seat for the flight, and for a while, I didn’t think anyone would be joining me. As soon as I thought that, a flustered, middle-aged woman took the aisle seat.

Immediately, she began what I can only describe as nesting. First, she pulled out what seemed to be the entire contents of her giant backpack, including sandwich baggies full of snacks. She then proceeded to pop what I hope was anti-anxiety pill. After that, she took off her shoes and shifted into every conceivable position her seat would allow.

I thought she was done after that, but I was mistaken. She took out a journal, which she scribbled in furiously for the entire flight.

I get that you want to be comfortable, but come on lady. This is not a Honda Odyssey on a three-state roadtrip with your family. It’s a plane filled with strangers.

The Adorable and Hilarious:

Despite having to deal with Del Griffith in the seat next to me (100 points if you get that reference), there was one highlight of the flight.

A little girl and her mother sat a few rows behind me, and every time the plane moved on the tarmac, the little girl shouted “BLAST OFF!”

Her mother was clearly embarrassed, but I was thoroughly entertained.

The Bush League:

The return flight from Chicago to Kansas City was less eventful. However, I failed to notice it was on United’s regional shuttle service instead of a its regular air service.

“Call the stewardess, Vaughn. I need one of those bags.” “There aren’t any stewardesses.” “I wonder if there are any pilots?”

Once inside the terminal, I found out I would actually be boarding the plane from the tarmac instead of a jetway. It’s not exactly a welcome surprise. I felt like I was in Major League when Rachel Phelps took away the Indians regular jet for roadtrips.

Also, apparently, “regional jet” is airline speak for sardine can with wings. It was the smallest commercial jet I’ve ever seen.  Thankfully, it was a smooth flight because any kind of significant turbulence would have ripped that thing apart like a tennis ball in a lawn mower.

 Now I’m back to boring ole’ Kansas and the new year…

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