As someone who has traveled a lot in previous years, it’s hard not to compare to the experience it is today. Flying isn't what it used to be. In years past, I found it to be fun, even relaxing, before upped expenses (fees for a carry-on, come on!), hyper security where you don’t know until the last second (or when someone shouts at you) whether you've been shuffled into the line to remove your shoes and reveal your electronics (as if you’re not juggling enough) or the section where you can keep everything in place. Such confusion where things can change overnight (thanks again, terrorists), and now we have the newly added Ebola pre-screening (oh, joy). Someone just has to sniffle and my growing eyes zoom in to deeply scrutinize the condition of my co-traveler.
When I had toured with a music and dance ensemble, our road manager – a regular den mother – prepared for us individual treat bags created with care, special treats reminiscent of childhood. I've come a long way since then. From spoiled to cutthroat. No longer able to take snack bags, food, or bottled water through security (not to mention more than a button of toothpaste), one is forced to purchase those items on the other side of security (if you get there). This is something akin to a movie theater experience, the privilege of highly inflated food service once “you’re in.”
Oh, I remember some my first class experiences fondly. Freedom to spread out or curl up in a big seat, a much-too-hot moist towelette I never knew what to do with. Meals! Remember when we got those? I now fly on a coach-only airline with festival seating because my former preferred airlines, one-by-one, have dropped from my expectations list. And because my now favorite airline seems to prove the most consistent keeper of schedule, doesn't charge exorbitant rates, the cabin crew is ALWAYS chipper, helpful, and downright entertaining (I bet this is how a few stand-up comedians got their start). This isn't a plug for a particular airline with a name consisting of two cardinal directions put together, one of them being “South,” but a fact that causes all the mounted tension before boarding the plane seem to melt. So if you have to fly…
When I’m safely back home in the comfort of an oversized living room chair where I sink into the cushions like an exhale, I decide, strangely, that I’d like to travel again. This time, visit another country. Select a book, open the cover. Mental travel… Ah, flying is better than it used to be.