Sunday, July 6, 2008

I got them old airport blues

It's futile and tiresome to complain about the wretched state of air travel in America. You might as well complain about the law of gravity. But since our flight out of Philadelphia appears to be canceled, and wireless Internet access is free here on the weekends, allow me to hold forth for a few paragraphs.

When you drive around a big city, nothing inspires sorrow and rage quite so much as the sight of all the taillights in front of you suddenly lighting up. It means that traffic will soon slow to a full stop, and that whatever plans you had at the moment must now be reconsidered. You get a similar feeling in an airport, when you arrive three hours early for your flight, and clear security without difficulty, and enjoy a nice lunch in a far concourse, and at last wander down to your departure gate to find a long line has formed. The line keeps getting longer because it's not moving. It's not moving because the two women at the gate are powerless to do anything but tap at their terminals as though at work on the middle chapters of a Norman Mailer novel. So the line stretches away past Yummy Pretzels and Chickie & Pete's and everyone waiting tries to simulate forward motion by shifting their weight from one leg to the other. Occasionally they will think of someone else to notify by cell phone that their plans have inevitably come undone.

The good news is that we had a nice time in Philadelphia. The bad news is that our stay here will extend beyond the time frame we considered optimal. We can blame thunderstorms in Atlanta, the PA informs us, which means that we can't blame Delta. Which means that, should I be forced to bide overnight in Atlanta, it will be on my own dime.

Ah well. They say Atlanta is not so lovely this time of year. I'm inclined to believe them. But at least the temporarily free Internet access here at PHL lets me vent to the ether, as opposed to the harried women at the Delta counter. All part of life's rich tapestry. And more evidence for my evolving theory that air travel in 2008 is more trouble than it's worth.

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