Monday, February 02, 2015

Air travel ~ my column from Sunday's paper

A few years ago when our niece Samantha accompanied Jilda and me to San Francisco, she made a profound observation about air travel that I’ve never forgotten.

She’d spent the night before the early-morning flight in our spare bedroom, and she dolled up for the flight. It was her first time to fly and you could hear the excitement in her voice as she told her friends about her trip.

Her dark hair fell in loose curls down past her shoulders and her makeup looked as if she was going on a photo-shoot for Teen Magazine instead of flying to the west coast.

She’d set out a pair of high heels to wear, but fortunately Jilda steered her toward more practical footwear.

A delayed flight out of Birmingham shortened our scheduled layover in Atlanta from an hour and a half to 15 minutes. We’d planned a leisurely stroll through the terminals making fun of frenzied travelers and maybe grabbing breakfast at one of the various vendors along the way. That didn’t happen.

Fortunately, Samantha was young and strong. We all sprinted like thoroughbreds to our gate in terminal C. There was a great deal of panting, but we arrived as the agents did their final boarding call for our flight.

I’ve never actually measured how far it is from one end of the Atlanta Airport to the other, but I know the east and west ends are in different time zones.

The flight from Atlanta to San Francisco was a little over four hours, but it seemed much longer.

By the time we arrived in the city by the bay, Samantha looked as if she’d been mugged.

She slowly dragged her bags to the rental car and leaned over to look at her reflection in the window. She shook her head slowly and said, “Air travel sucks the beauty right out of you.” I howled at the wisdom of her words.

It’s been a while since I’ve flown, but that changed when the new job scheduled a workshop for me in Orange County, California this week. I was excited about the opportunity but bummed that Jilda had a treatment and couldn’t make the trip with me.

I got up at 3:45 a.m. and headed out for my early-morning flight out of Birmingham.

The flight was uneventful, but it seems seating has shrunk since I flew last.

As I winged west, I remembered the words about air travel that my young niece Samantha said all those years ago.

If I ever had any beauty, it got sucked out somewhere over Arizona.

It’s probably on its way to Miami or Akron, flowing through the recycled air of Delta Flight 435.

When the taxi dropped me off at the hotel, I could see the ocean off in the distance, but did I venture down to dip my toe in the surf? Nope.

I went to my room and took a long nap.

I don’t feel pretty, but I am beginning to feel human again.


  1. Flying is glamorous no more. Rest up for the trip home.

  2. I'm old enough to remember when people used to dress up to fly!!

  3. I will remember that quote forever! It made me laugh out loud because I hate flying and I feel the same way when we land! Now I find my goal is to not get sick after a flight. We flew last year to Oregon and are hoping to get there again sometime this summer. I got sick the last time and I'm going to do my best to hide under a blanket or wear a mask! Glad you made it home safe and sound and I hope the trip was good. Maybe next time Jilda could go...she's so beautiful, she'd make everyone else on the plane who had the beauty sucked out of them jealous! Your niece Samantha is a beauty too!

  4. OMG, that's exactly what happened to me. I got my beauty sucked right out of me too many times and I'm about to get on the plane again this weekend. I wonder if I wore a face mask. No, I better not, I'd be arrested on the spot and thrown in jail to rot.

    BTW, I hate flying too.

  5. I remember wearing a coat and tie the first time I flew. The times have certainly changed. Now I don't even own a tie.

  6. Travel can really knock the wind out of you, whether you fly, take a train, or even drive. All the hustling can wear you down, so you have to try to relax, sit back, and enjoy the ride as part of your adventure.

  7. Hey Rick, sounds like that young lady spoke words of wisdom...
    I can say without a doubt travel can wear a gal out, ME
    But as a Grandma, this gal has to brave it often! It is the very large airports that I do not care for those hubs, can get a person lost. Never wear shoes you can't run in!
    Hope your return trip will be safe, and quick, no delays!

  8. Samantha is right it does suck the beauty out of ya, and I often think you can tell the first time flyers from those who are old hands at it buy how they dress, old hands dress more for comfort

  9. Good Column. Years ago I did love to fly, but in the last 10-15 yrs it has only been a means to an end, but I loved that line, 'Air travelsucks the beauty right out of you', then your line "you ain't pretty yet, but youdo feel better!"
    Enjoyed the visit..

  10. Glad you're getting your rest. From the photo, your niece Samantha looks very beautiful! I've never had the opportunity to fly, but I'm glad for the warning!


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