Airlines in the United States

If you saw my early morning Facebook status, you would have been heartened to learn that our flight out of Cedar Rapids on Northwest was on time. Seconds after posting that status, the flight was delayed by an hour due to weather. Talk about inviting the jinx into the mix for the day.

Our connecting flight is later today, so if we manage to escape Iowa and arrive in Minneapolis by noon or so, we should make Edmonton later today. If not, and given the general crappiness of our air travel experience thus far, the next flight to Edmonton is not until 9PM. I have taken that flight before with just Dee. By the time one disembarks, clears Customs, collects baggage and makes the 45 minute drive home – it’s pretty fucking late.

Oh, did that not sound Zen/chipper?

I am actually quite grounded (emotionally and philosophically as well as literally) this morning. At some point – this week hopefully – we will be back in Canada. And the next trip to Iowa will be by vehicle or we’ll fly into Chicago and drive. Cedar Rapids – despite the free wi-fi which is aiding my mood considerably and is far more progressive than the airport in Minneapolis – is a Bermuda Triangle. Flights simply vaporize. Even now there is a line stretching from the Delta counter several feet deep with travelers who are probably well screwed in terms of making it anywhere but Minneapolis today. Unless Delta is busing.  Last Thursday they were simply loading up Greyhounds with displaced passengers and sent them on their hours delayed way. By bus. As if they do that kind of thing all the time. Which is an alarming thought.

For those wondering, the TSA experience was tolerable. We were even complimented by security in Minneapolis for our knowledge, speed and our ability to get out-of-the-way of others. It surprises me the number of people who aren’t prepared when they hit the first “checkpoint” on the gauntlet. There was a couple in front of us who didn’t have their ID’s pulled from the plastic sleeves in their wallets, held up the line while the TSA personnel walked them through the carry-on screening (how can you live in the police state which is America and not know that shoes come off and laptops come out?). Then they blocked the lane while they redressed and packed on the other side. The male actually had his boot up on the rollers tying them while Dee and I stood, shoes on and packed, behind him.

And the TSA was not it’s usually frowny, humorless self. We got a few smiles and a “thank you,  have a nice day” although the last bit may have been sadistic.

I am afraid that Rob and Dee are losing their humor. Dee is insanely exhausted. A weekend with Grandma and both cousins always means late nights and early mornings. The mattress situation (small, hard and somewhat lumpy) left Rob near sleepless too. Neither one of them functions optimally in travel situations sans sleep. I am still brimming with optimism that should last me until we are stranded again for the night. I can’t really say yet where that might be. I do know that without a vehicle it will suck beyond my ability to articulate properly unless profanity is involved.

At least there is tea and free wi-fi, which is only civilized.

I don’t travel well. No, it’s true. I don’t and I freely own it. I am especially awful about air travel. Despite the fact that it is preferred by many, I would rather drive. Driving aligns more comfortably with my control freaky nature and I tend to get where I am going. Air travel is for gamblers. People who haven’t any issues with turning their lives over to the fates and are happy as long as the outcome approximates their expectations.

Because I am often the downer on air trips to the States, I resolved to be the Dalai Lama of the skies this time. I would not overheat or flap. I would be zen’s cremey vanilla center.

And I was.

When our first flight was grounded for an hour with a computer glich, I napped. The American across the aisle was on his cell phone franctically trying to make sure his connecting flight could still be made and grumbling to anyone who would listen that when a pilot said “We’ll be leaving momentarily” then perhaps that’s what should happen. I have been in Canada long enough to know that “moment” is a completely relative term. The Canadians occupy the same temporal space as the Mexicans when it comes to time, space and the idea that work should intersect these spheres.

“He just doesn’t understand the whole time thing here,” I said to Rob.

“You have assimilated well,” he replied.

“Seven of Nine,” I added.

When the plane circled Minneapolis for an hour, I was serene. When a tiny woman tried to guilt Rob into stepping aside for her when we finally landed and could disembark because “I have a conecting flight!” and his reply was strained through his teeth, “We all have connecting flights.” I just concentrated on my breathing and scurrying Dee along.

The cancellation of our connecting flight, after we’d run Dee’s tiny legs to nubs to get to the gate on time, did not faze me. Nor did the fact that we couldn’t get on another flight until the next morning.

Even the fact that our lugguage was caught in the unspeakable vortex of the unknown that claims all luggage whose owners are victims of “acts of God” and “irregular conditions” wasn’t enough to keep me from chirping all sorts of silver lining mantras.

But when the shuttle bus to the hotel arrived late and the pouring rain and rush hour traffic pushed a 20 minute drive to the hotel past an hour, I was done with my Pollyanna of the Skies persona. It was ill-fitting and, frankly, stupid.

Flying sucks. From the moment a person walks into an airport terminal to be herded and suspected and stripped of any real power over their well-being, loved ones and belongings until it deposits him/her like spit on summer’s sidewalk – maybe at their destination and maybe not – everything about it peels and grates and burns. It’s like being Gollum on the end of a tether.