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May 16, 2008


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Yikes. That's almost like "twisty little passages, all alike."

I concentrate on the image of a crying, helpless, extremely lovable kitten and try to project the aura of some sort of New England naif overwhelmed by the pressure of the big city airport.

And there was nobody to record and then post that performance on YouTube. Drat.

I'm quite happy to report that my own airborne adventures have never been this bad. There was the time in 1990 when I flew from San Francisco to DC. It took forever for the plane to actually leave its gate in San Francisco, and the connecting flight in Minneapolis took forbloodyever to show up, and we had to land in the other DC airport. And it was late by then. That was ok though because they had shuttles to take us to the airport where we should have landed and that meant driving pat the Pentagon at night. Awesome.

Indeed, I say gruefully.

I've had bad flight experiences before. I've spent a night in Kennedy waiting for an outbound flight to England. I've arrived successfully at LaGuardia in a blizzard, which would have been fine if I hadn't been ticketed to New Haven and told that since I was within 90 miles as the crow flies that was close enough (let's ignore the little matter of Long Island Sound between LaGuardia and home). I've had luggage lost, though it's always been returned within a day or two. I've had jewelry stolen by the TSA (now all jewelry travels in my carryon.) But for sheer length and variety of obstacles, this was a memorable trip.

By the way, what was the trip's Security Theater like? Mildly annoying as in, you have to take everything off before going thru their scanners, then, at the other end of the short conveyor belt, you have to rush and pick up everything otherwise you hold everybody up? That kind of annoying? Or the kind where something you're wearing sets off their alarms (like my wife did with that knee brace) and you spend the next 10-15 minutes having to prove you're not out to destroy everything that is Good and Beautiful about America?

Since I was leaving from two relatively sane airports (Bradley and Grand Rapids) and was careful not to leave the "secure" area at O'Hare, it wasn't any worse than usual. The laptop is a pain - it has to be unpacked and scanned separately - but otherwise it was routine. I had dressed for Security Theater by wearing sandals and not wearing a belt or hairpins. (I've had detectors set off by my body jewelry, which I can't do much about, and by wearing a lot of hairpins, which I can, at the price of looking bedraggled.)

That doesn't mean that having to do Security Theater at all doesn't offend me and raise my blood pressure every time.

I don't have any airline horror stories of my own, because we have good intercity rail here so I've never travelled anywhere by plane, but I enjoy reading other people's.

One of my favourites (partly because it's relatively bloodless) happened to Mark Evanier earlier this year:

He arrived at his destination, to find that his luggage had not arrived on the same plane. It was suggested that it might arrive on the next scheduled flight, so he hung around; it did, the airline handed over his luggage and an apologetic discount voucher, and he made it to his hotel in the wee small hours.

Only to be woken unpleasantly early by a phone call from the airline, assuring him that they were still looking for his luggage and would not rest until it was found...

And *thats* why I'm about to load 3000 books into my cellphone.

Back in January I had 36 unexpected hours at or near Dulles, and got to observe a 200 person line moving at 30 people/hour. (This is when San Francisco had inches of rain in a day, and many flights were canceled).

Our first flight wasn't canceled: the flight crew timed out.

We were all on the plane, and suddenly the captain said "Sorry folks, I just hit my time limit. Bye." and just up and left.

Luckily we had two (data enabled) cell phones, two laptops, and a nice gate agent pointed us to a ticket kiosk, so the only (much shorter) line with which to deal was for hotel vouchers.

I finally got to see the big Air&Space museum, so it was worth it.

Paul A... That sounds very much like something that'd happen to someone who works with Sergio Aragon├Ęs...

I finally got to see the big Air&Space museum

So did I, during that 1990 trip. The whole business thing itself had been scheduled to take the whole day, with my flying back in the evening, but the meeting was over by late morning. That's when I realized I was near the A&S Museum, where I spent most of the afternoon. After that, I started walking across town to DC's train station that'd take me to the airport, which is how I got to see the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Wall next to it.

In the annoying-flying dept... Back in 2002, after I moved to New Mexico, I had to fly to San Francisco for one week, Literally half-way back to NM, the plane turned around because of mechanical problems. They did that instead of keeping on going because Oakland's airtport had better repair facilities. When we finally took off again, we got no compensation, not even a small bag of peanuts.

I should mention that along with the four novels, I had my canario research materials and another several hundred pages of dance nonfiction reading material along, just in case I wanted to work instead of relax, plus a belly dancing DVD I could play in a pinch. I'm the sort of person who brings a magazine along on errands so I can read at red lights.

Usually I prefer to read fiction during stressful travel, though.

Ye gods and diminutive fishes. That was the airport experience from seven hells. And I thought I'd been through a few, being sent from gate to gate.

The scary thing is that it could have been much worse. I wasn't kept on a plane for six hours with no air and no water and backed up lavs. I wasn't one of what I'd guess was 100ish Hartford-bound people who ended up stuck in Chicago overnight. My luggage and I both arrived at the same airport, and I didn't even have to wait for the plane to be unloaded.

Not that I'm complaining; I don't need blogging material that badly! And I did get the first-class seating, which was an interesting experience in and of itself.

Dear Ghu....
The worst experience I ever had was trying to get from Portland (Oregon) to SF, on a night when the planes could take off but not land in Portland.
So they loaded the people going to SF and the people going to NY on a plane to Seattle (along with the people actually going to Seattle) where we got to spend a few hours in a deserted terminal. This was in the late 60s ... there was nothing open in the airport on Sunday night, not even a newsstand.

My father once flew from San Jose to Las Vegas by way of Albuquerque. (Weather, I think.)

Serge, Kathryn means the Udvar-Hazy Annex. You were at the main museum.

I haven't had any of this waiting for planes in the five round-trips I've had since the doctors let me fly again. But I'm flying mid-week to, then from, a hub.

Now, back when I consulted, I was on a plane coming in to land at Dulles that got hit by lightning. The power went off, the plane dropped, then the power came back on and we circled around and then landed. Some people were still screaming. And at the last job, I used to fly to/from China Lake. Not only do you take a six-seater over very bumpy mountains to get near the city/base, but the landing strip was given to the city by the Navy because it was too dangerous. So you bounce your way over (someone always vomits) and then you descend to the landing strip and at a point where there's a gap in the mountains, BAM! the air hits the plane sideways hard enough to sometimes move it completely off the strip onto sand. Kind of a 90-minute thrill ride.

P J... San Jose to Las Vegas by way of Albuquerque

As the crow flies, if it's an old crow, and a very drunk one at that.

Marilee... You were at the main museum

Oh, right. By the way, my favorite memory of that museum was going inside the SkyLab. I can't remember if that was just a mockup, but that was impressive. And the passageways were, to say the least, cramped.

By the way, your description of flying over mountains reminds me of 1939's Only Angels Have Wings, except that that movie didn't show anybody barfing. Plenty of dying though.

Gah! I'm looking at flights for Denver for worldcon and what does the cheapest one involve? Transferring through O'Hare.

Yes, the Udvar-Hazy Annex. I'd been at the "main" museum during regularly scheduled tourism. I think that whichever building holds a space shuttle gets to be the main museum, names notwithstanding.

If we didn't have two flight vouchers from the Unexpected Stay in DC, I'd be tempted to drive to Denver. 1300 miles, 18 hours, 45 gallons...hmmm. Drag and drop the path on gmaps... 1200 miles by way of Yosemite NP, Great Basin NP, and then a couple of diversions to Arches NP... should only take 4 days.

(My partner is slightly less into that idea, although as a general principle we both like road trips and national parks.)

Depends in part on if we're doing two parties or one. There'll be a Making Light gathering, but I figure one last faux-bid-party could be fun, and that requires lugging the picture tubes (those 8 foot x 1 foot pics) and other sordid supplies.

For LACon, we flew (because we left for Burning Man on Monday, the very next day) and had local fan friends who were driving take party supplies down.

I strongly considered taking the train in at least one direction, but I've decided I need the time too much to do it. But I just found a r/t for $353 that goes through Dallas at reasonably good times and jumped on it. Anything that doesn't involve O'Hare!

I may end up shipping costume stuff out in advance.

If you haven't seen Arches, it's fabulous - I went through on my drive 'round the country back in 1992. Well worth a detour.

Kathryn... Four days for a 1300-mile drive? I presume that'd be a trip with many stops along the way because, when I drive from Albuquerque to the Bay Area, it takes us only 17 hours to drive 1100 miles. I did that once in one day and decided this was not a good idea.

As for the trip to Denver... That should take us no more than 8 hours, including stops. That means we'll be at the Hyatt Regency in the middle of the afternoon on August 6.

3 days, maybe. The idea of being that close to Arches, beautiful, lovely Arches, and not stopping by doesn't make sense. Although we'd only be that close if we took 50, and we'd only take 50 because of all the National Parks. hmmm.

Kathryn... Well, no matter what, it'll be convenient for you to have a vehicle at the worldcon, especially with that gathering you're planning to hold. Or are grocery stores within easy walking distance?

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