Travel Time: IND-ATL

Air travel is an adventure. It’s an adventure when you first head to the airport, while you are on the trip, and when you reach the destination. Of course, like for most, these adventures include other people. Unless you have your own plane or are rich enough to fly in solitude, people come with the territory. Instead of my usual 6am departure this one started later in the morning. My path was Indianapolis to Atlanta via Charlotte which I know goes against convention since every airport has a direct flight to Atlanta. In this case Delta decided the flight home did not need to fit into my work schedule so American it was (a decision I would later regret).

I brought up the adventure part because of my departure. Even the mostly seeming, uneventful flight has its moments and mine started the minute we left IND. I am one of those flyers who usually ignores the person next to me. Through experience, I have grown a shield which prevents me from paying much attention to my fellow passengers. However, that day it must have been down. Next to me was a young girl, probably 11 or 12 (or 8 for all I know…I’m terrible at determining someone’s age). ShieldsAnyway, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in this position but she boarded the plane with NOTHING. Absolutely, nothing to keep herself entertained. At first I didn’t notice but after a half hour or so, my instincts kicked in and I noticed she was struggling. She wasn’t losing it…she was just bored. My empathy alarm started going off immediately. Here I am, iPad in hand, watching videos, reading, basically having a smorgasbord of entertainment at my finger tips and she has nothing. Damn my conscience.

Now my empathy tank usually runs on about a quarter full so I wasn’t ready to give up my iPad (would she really want to watch reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm anyway?). At the same time, I am a grown man and she is a young girl.

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Unblock Me

There is a very thin line on being helpful versus being creepy so I had to first decide if I was going to take that chance. After watching her open the airline magazine for the fifth time I decided to take a chance and see if I could help. On my phone I have a very entertaining game called “Unblock Me” where you move blocks around until the designated piece can escape the room. I asked her first if she like puzzles which she said yes. I showed her the game and handed it over which she seemed to really enjoy. I felt good about helping out but sorry for her at the same time. I can only imagine she was flying from one parent to another and this was probably routine. But who puts a child on a flight with nothing to do? It’s so easy to lose faith in humanity these days…

With the exception of some pretty heavy turbulence in and out of Charlotte, the rest of the trip went fine. I do forget that some people are still afraid of flying. One little jerk during the flight can send some on a full scale panic attack. On the second leg of the trip, the woman next to me kept doing the trinity cross thing on her chest after every bump. I don’t want to be the one to tell her but if we start going down, there’s no amount of praying that’s going to stop a 150,000 pound metal tube full of jet fuel from turning us all into a mountain of ash (all due respect to the faithful). Even for the most seasoned flyers, bad turbulence can make things uncomfortable and cause you to start thinking about what realturbulencely matters. Like did I clear my browser history before leaving or did I let the chance to tell someone they were an asshole slip by me forever. You never know what’s going to happen so for now on I’ll be more prepared! Anyway, for people like my new devout friend, I usually keep a few anxiety pills handy and will happily turn into the in-cabin drug dealer if anyone near me really starts flipping out. What can you say, I’m a people person at heart!

Atlanta really is a great city and someday when I feel like I’m up for the challenge, I’ll do a full review of Hartsfield. Until then, I’ll just ride the tram, get my car, and jump head first into the famous traffic of the ATL. IMG_2324I had quite a bit of stuff to write about during this trip but it all pretty much got trumped when I-85 caught on fire. No joke…the damn interstate caught on fire (Google it!). Luckily it did not affect much of what I was doing but the entire city went into a panic. The traffic there is bad enough without a large chunk of a major artery missing. Luckily nobody was hurt but the pain associated with increased time at the wheel is going to be felt by the natives for some time to come.

During my off hours I was able to see some of the new and old attractions of Atlanta. I was advised to check out the Ponce City Market, the new multiuse retail/dining/living monstrosity built on an old Sears & Roebuck building in the city’s historic fourth ward. IMG_2323It’s a pretty impressive establishment with lots of interesting places to eat and shop. Based upon the surrounding neighborhood, I imagine this is an attempt to gentrify another area closer to the heart of the city which is not isolated to Atlanta. Projects like this one are now a common sight in urban areas across the U.S. as the interest in moving closer to city centers has become the newest trend in American migration. The upscale clientele along with the fact you have to pay to park even in the surface lot leads me to believe the property values that surround the market are probably skyrocketing as I write this post. It was a nice place and I’m sure I’ll hit it up again on another trek south.

For me, no visit would be complete without a trip to the Zoo. Zoo Atlanta located just southeast of downtown is an impressive campus that sits within the grounds of Grant Park. IMG_2328They had many great exhibits and for an afternoon visit, the animals were very active which made the trip that much more exciting. Of course, it was 72 degrees out so why wouldn’t they be out and about. I have an affinity for the great Apes so I spent a good amount of time just watching them roam around their enclosures. No trip to Zoo Atlanta would be complete without stopping in to see the Pandas. This was a great day to do so because the 7 month old babies were playing together on the firehose hammock. There was a good crowd but not so bad where you couldn’t enjoy the view.

I really enjoy visiting Zoos when I get the chance because they are just one way we humans are still trying to maintain the natural world. Like many Zoos, Zoo Atlanta is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which is dedicated to animal conservation. These facilities are not just fun places to see animals; they are places that will make sure these animals will exist even as we continue to destroy their habitats around the world. There are a lot of dedicated people who work for these organizations so let’s just say, a quick trip to the Zoo puts my faith back into humanity!

On the trip home I learned two lessons: One, the Atlanta airport punishes you for not flying Delta and two, you can pretty much be in Iowa and still be allowed to call yourself an Chicago airport hotel as long as American Airlines is paying the bill. My flight out was in the T terminal at ATL which can’t stand for anything other than “terrible.” It has limited amenities, small gates and in the afternoon, bakes in the hot southern sun.

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Yep…looks like a murder scene.

A delay in one flight meant mine was as well. It happens; nothing in air transportation is perfect. However, I did get the chance to miss my connection and take advantage of the wonderful accommodations provided by the airline. I imagine in 1985, this Holiday Inn (which calls itself an airport hotel even though it it 30 minutes west) was once a great place of business. Now it’s a $60 per night, John filled shithole where apparently soap is optional (maybe it’s a perk for the working girls!). The 70 year-old shuttle driver who proved that interstate lane lines are just decorations was entertaining enough to get me through the night. A few hours later, I was back at O’hare and on my way home. Like I said, it’s always an adventure!

Griswolds (FAM)

In John Hughes’ 1983 hit comedy, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Ellen Griswold (played by Beverly D’Angelo) tried without success to convince her naive but determined husband, Clark (played by Chevy Chase), that it would be easier if they fly to Wally World in Southern California than to make a 2,000 mile trip in the car. Clark fired back by saying “nothing worthwhile is easy” which is good advice unless of course you are planning to drive cross country with a car full of kids. Although I do not have any actual experience in this front, flying as a family has to be on the of the more stressful things to do. If only more families took Clark’s advice and opted to take their trips on the road instead of by air, we wouldn’t have the always entertaining and often irritating group of passengers now and forever known as…the Griswolds!vacation 1

Griswolds are a group that you cannot escape. They can be heard, seen, experienced, and sometimes smelled everywhere in an airport…from the parking lot, to the gate, and especially on the plane. Whether they come from the upper echelon of Santa Monica and suburban Connecticut or from the hollers of Appalachia and West Texas, Griswolds all share certain characteristics that make them a unique group within the airport population. They’re actually quite fascinating which makes this even more fun to write!

The first characteristic is chaos. Pure, unadulterated, CHAOS! They don’t try to be this way…it just comes with the territory. Imagine attempting to wrangle a herd of wild boars into a straight line on a lake of thin ice, all while trying not to fall through. This would just be just a nugget of what families have to go through in the airport. Evil_minions_by_minions_fans-d6txvphNot only do they have to get through the normal hassle of the airport routine, they also have to constantly be on the lookout for a wandering child, somehow navigate the troop through security, get to the gate all in one piece and keep the kids entertained enough to avoid a meltdown. Recently actor Ryan Reynolds stated on a Good Morning American interview, “I would rather drink a piping hot bowl of liquid rabies than get on a plane with my two children.” This probably sums up the sentiment of many parents although most will keep their frustrations to themselves and silently die a little bit inside with every trip.

Another characteristic of the Griswolds is volume. Let’s not beat around the bush, I mean high levels of volume which seems to be a necessary part of their everyday existence. Griswolds are loud in every area of an airport. Yelling to each other in the security lines is a common sight but it does not stop there. Yelling happens in the restrooms, at the dining areas, and even during the boarding procedures while others are trying to hear the flight attendant’s instructions. Loud noisesThe parents yell at the kids, the kids in turn yell back, it’s an exhausting pattern. Of course, they’re also loud on the plane. Everybody on a plane cringes at the site of a pack of Griswolds heading their direction. It brings forth imagines of a baby crying non-stop or a projectile vomiting toddler who for some reason always feels the need to kick the seat in front of them. Without knowing it, the poor Griswolds are the most feared and hated people on a plane. Even when they are cool, calm, collected and not bothering a soul.

The newest generation of Griswolds have introduced the characteristic of documentation. For some reason, they feel it necessary to document, via photographs, every part for the precious child’s flying experience. I’m writing this while watching a couple take an endless amount of photos of their son on the parking shuttle. share on FBIt’s 5:30am, cold, dark and everybody else generally has a murderous look on their face, yet these parents feel it’s a Kodak moment. I could only imagine the photo album of this trip: Here is little Johnny riding face first on the moving walk way; oh, there’s dad spilling his coffee on himself while chasing a three-year-old down the terminal; hey look, here’s mom flirting with the pilot while dad stuffs fifteen carry-ons in the overhead bin. It’s all priceless and deserves to be shared with the rest of the world. I don’t see an end to this practice so we might as well get used to it or get better at photo-bombing…either way, it’s here to stay.

Griswolds have a certain look that is unique and makes the fashionistas (a group I’ll discuss later) want to cry in agony. The male members are usually equipped with some sort of duffle bag, slung over their oversized (and usually stained) clothing and rounded out with a pair of unnecessarily large and dirty tennis shoes. The females come with whatever outfit Pinterest suggested would be best for flying that week. Most of the time this consist of black tights and a fleece jacket or the always popular mom jeans, a solid button down top and loosely threaded polyester scarf. ShoesThrow on some pleather boots and we’re ready go! The children surprisingly are usually the most fashionable of the groups. Dressing up your kids as American Girl Dolls has become a new obsession which doesn’t end in the terminal. The kids also come wearing (insert any cartoon character) backpacks filled most likely with their mom’s underwear or the dirty laundry. The still popular sneakers with wheels on the bottom are still around (I can’t believe a class action lawsuit hasn’t put an end to that yet). Nothing beats waiting to board while playing airport Frogger with a dozen children zipping from one side of the gate to the other.

Not everything about Griswolds is negative and in no way am I suggesting they’re a bad group. In many ways, they can be very entertaining which breaks up the monotony of the airport routine. If you ever catch yourself in a game of peek-a-boo with a kid a few rows ahead of you, it really makes you stop and think about the simplicity of life and that sometimes it’s fun to just stop and be silly for a while. The Griswolds are also exposing their children to a now normal part of our society. As I stated in my introductory post, airports are made up of a diverse population of virtually every racial, social, occupational, and socio-economical group. I believe this is an important thing to expose children to early on in order for them to better adapt to the world we now occupy.

Also, nine out of ten times, the Griswolds are the model passengers. I guess as a way to socialize their children, the Griswolds display a great amount of discipline. They rarely make a big fuss and mostly keep to themselves throughout the entire process. Of course, no parent can regulate or even contain the occasional temper tantrum, but that’s to be expected from anyone who enters a public domain such as an airport. putting up with shitFor those of us who are mere observes, it’s best to just keep calm, let them handle their own, and go about our business. I’ve seen too many people get upset because of a crying baby or squirmy toddler. This only adds to the stress the parents are already experiencing so if you are one of those people…get over it. Take the advice of the ancient Persians who wrote of human suffering by offering up a simple yet powerful statement, “This Too Shall Pass!”

So there you go Griswolds! Turn down the metallic pea wagon queen family truckster and head to the airport for some good old fashion family air traveling fun. Ignore the rolling eyes and avoid the business folks cursing on their phones because the airport is your oyster too. Just sit back, relax, and…“Hey we’re missing someone” “Dad where’s the charger?” “I need to go to the bathroom!” “Have you seen my shoes?”…enjoy the flight?

Travel Time: IND-CLT

This week’s trip takes me from Indianapolis (IND) to Charlotte (CLT) for a three day stomp around the South.  Not often do I get to my home airport with enough time to just grab a

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Indy Car for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500

latte, sit back relax and just enjoy the environment. This has been my first later-in-the day departure in a while so I calculated in plenty of time for rush hour traffic. Luckily the roads were clear so I made it in no time. I also got to take an uber which is a treat in the rain. One covered pickup followed by a covered drop off and I’m on my way (yes, I’m a spoiled first-world consumer!).

Of course being here allows for a good amount of people watching and, subsequently, people listening which is another airport hobby of mine. Here’s a thing: at what point is it appropriate to intervene in a conversation? Not to break up an argument or god forbid, get into a political discussion (I would rather stand behind a jet at take-off) but just interject into the discussion. Of course I only ask this when you can add something meaningful in a respectful way that may actually do some good. A father and son were sitting next to me discussing if the young man should apply to his school’s honors program. The father was aloof about it but was not discouragiblog-interruptingng him either. As someone who has worked in higher education for a long time, I could easily persuade them to give it a try and even discuss some of the benefits they probably didn’t know about. That’s a rhetorical question of course but something that I’m sure we all face at one time or another. At this point I decided to just stay quiet and let it go.

The solitude of business travel life makes you rely on the antics of others for inspiration and sometimes entertainment. Like my seat mate on the way to Charlotte. She wasn’t an full time talker (thankfully) but I guess she worked up the courage to speak once we landed. I learned she had taken this trip to meet her father for the first time. She looked to be in her twenties so that had to be an emotional experience. It’s amazing what people will share like how he was abusive to her mother (before she was born) and how she had been raised by several sets of relatives over her short life. I guess sometimes the anonymity that comes with a short term acquaintance allows you to dump some of the pent up emotional baggage you had been holding in. No tears were shed but I could tell it was an experience she didn’t want to relive. I listened, sympathized, and wished her well.

The next was my shuttle driver from the airport to the hotel. He was a nice older gentleman who I guess enjoyed giving the occupants complete details on the ride including how many minutes we had remaining before arrival,

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Summit of King’s Pinnacle

the list of amenities at this particular property and the birthday and history of Billy Graham (as we were driving on the Billy Graham freeway). I felt bad for not asking him more questions but like the bus we were riding in, I was out of gas.

The trip went well and took me all over western North Carolina.  I went from Gastonia to Winston-Salem, even took a beautiful hike at Crowders Mountain State Park.  Unfortunately, I was only downtown Charlotte for a few minutes which is sad since it is a very clean and vibrant city.  The revitalization around the perimeter of uptown tells me that, like most medium sized cities in the U.S., there is a growth in demand for urban living around Charlotte as well.  The city is helping itself immensely with the continued additions of new train lines (slowly but surely, of course).

As of now, I’m back at the airport waiting to board and wishing that one of the rocking chairs that line the atrium would open up soon.  I’ll cover those more when I finally do a full review of CLT.  Off to the skies I go!

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Sweet Revenge at LAX

In my opinion, airports can bring out the best and worst in people.  Although, the worst is usually what’s on display! Below is a story that I couldn’t resist because it not only shows how far some individuals have fallen off the social order, it also highlights the sweet, sweet revenge that can be bestowed upon their absolutely terrible behavior.

On a recent flight from LAX to Tokyo, Comedian and T.V. Personality, Steve Hofstetter, encountered a self-absorbed, fellow passenger who went as far to let her dog relieve itself in the terminal without cleaning it up and that was just the beginning. Her unruly behavior continued but I’ll let Steve tell the story as it unfolded:


While walking to my gate at LAX, I noticed a woman whose dog was in the middle of doing its business. The woman was loudly face-timing with her back to the dog, so I assumed she didn’t notice. That was likely the thought shared by the gentleman who tried to get her attention.

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Photo credit: Sean Smith

“Excuse me, miss?” he said, in a polite tone. The woman glared at him. “Your dog,” he sheepishly continued, pointing to the mid-poop pup.

The woman rolled her eyes and went back to face time as the man slinked away, seemingly embarrassed. “Some people,” she bellowed to her face-time companion with no hint of irony, “are just so damned rude.” When her dog finished, the woman started walking away, leaving everything right on the airport floor. Another woman tried to stop her.

“You’re not going to clean that up?” she asked, as shocked as the rest of us were. “They have people for that,” the offender replied, disappearing into the crowd, as much as someone yelling into their phone can disappear into a crowd. I stood near the pile and warned people to walk around it while someone else got a maintenance worker’s attention. No one said anything – we were so shocked that anyone could be that horrible.

When I got to my gate, the woman was there, too. Great – we were both going to Tokyo. When I travel abroad, I get embarrassed by other Americans doing things one hundred times less embarrassing than leaving animal feces on the floor of an airport. To make it worse, her dog was now barking at everyone who walked by. I have nothing against people flying with their dogs, I do it often. But it is a privilege I take seriously. My dog is well-trained and behaves better than most people. He certainly behaves better than that asshole. Speaking of assholes, there is a pet relief area inside LAX, past security, just two gates away from where The Party Pooper let her dog go to town. It didn’t matter – she was the type of person to litter three feet from an empty garbage can.

While her dog barked at the world, the woman had moved from face-timing with no headphones to listening to music with no headphones. I don’t like to throw around the word “sociopath” but I don’t know how else I could explain just how selfish and terrible of a person she was. I’d bet her car was somewhere in long-term parking, parked across three spots with paint on the bumper from the child’s bike she hit without leaving a note.

Everyone else tried to ignore her, sitting as far away from her as they could. I am not everyone else. I sat down right next to the horrible woman. “Are you going to London on business?” I said. “I’m going to Tokyo,” she responded gruffly, annoyed that I interrupted her DJing. “Oh, I said. Then you better hurry. That flight got moved to gate 53C. This is the flight to London.”

I figured I could give her a little moment of panic as payback for how terribly she was treating everyone. I didn’t predict what would happen next. She grabbed her bags and her dog in a huff, and stormed out of the gate without even checking. She was so self-involved, she didn’t notice that the monitor at our gate still said Tokyo and almost everyone at the gate was Japanese. 

Based on her actions, she believed me that the fight had been moved, so she’s also an asshole for not thanking me. “Some people,” I thought as I watched her rush away from the gate without stopping her, “are just so damned rude.” The flight to Tokyo was at gate 69A, so the 53 gates were on the other side of the next terminal. And I felt guilty knowing she probably berated some poor clerk who had to explain to her that there was no gate 53C.

I don’t know if she made it back to this flight before we took off or not, but I didn’t see her board and I don’t hear her dog. Her missing her flight was not my original intention, but it would be a fine punishment for her being so rude to everyone and making a low-paid stranger clean feces off the floor. What makes me wonder if I went too far is the knowledge that Delta only has one flight to Tokyo each day. Whoops. Maybe she can re-book on another airline. I hear they have people for that.


Steve is currently on tour and you can follow him on on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit.  Check out his Youtube page for clips from past shows and other T.V. segments he has appeared. Thanks Steve…you are a champion of airport relations!

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*This story was published with permission.  All rights reserved.

Travel Time: IND-ORD-SFO

This trip took me to San Francisco via Indianapolis and Chicago. The day started with a dense, ghostly like fog to the point where I could barely see the signs into airport and the parking lot. Unfortunately I had to drive due to the lack of early morning Ubers. IND is an easy shot from my place so it’s not a big imposition. img_2145After parking, a creepy figure standing at the shuttle bus waiting area which ended up being just a nice lady with big hair. I would have loved to get a photo but the bus was bearing down on me so I had to pass.

For the first time in hundreds of flights, I was almost late. Of course my definition of being on time means having a comfortable amount of waiting before take off. Pre check was packed which is what led to timing issue but I made it fine.

The first leg was IND to ORD which is only about an hour from take off to touch down. Because it’s early I’m usually asleep before ever taking off. I find the thrust very soothing. As you can see, Chicago looked peaceful from 10,000 feet yet I’m not naive enough to things that’s true. Being originally from Illinois it saddens me to see what’s happening to that city. I still enjoy Chicago and ORD but has its share of issues. What city doesn’t?

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Chicago from 10,000 feet.

Thanks to our friends the Canadian plane manufacturers, we had to gate check all the roller boards since I guess up north you don’t carry on anything bigger than a child’s backpack. This is always entertaining when we deplane with the bottle necking that inevitably occurs on the jet way. Every time there is the one ass hat who

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Rebel or douche…

thinks he’s too good to stand in line for the gate checked bag. Probably the guys who drives a large loud vehicle and has a tiny you-know-what. Another guy stepped up and ran him off…good for you, bro!

The longest leg of the trip went great, especially since it was in a new aircraft and there was an empty seat between me and the guy in the window seat.  Sometimes being in the back of the plane has its perks too. There were plenty of entertainment options to the 4+ hours went by without noticing.

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Empty seat!

There was quite a bit of turbulence both right after take-off and as we approached SFO but nothing that set off my alarms. A few people around me started gasping but it wasn’t that bad.

SFO is a nice airport and I plan on giving it a review in a few months. At least the B terminal is clean and has lots of dining and retail options. It even has a Yoga studio somewhere on grounds which is not surprising. The airtrain is extremely efficient and quickly gets you from point to point. Once I reached the rental car garage I got a free upgrade and was on my way.  Off to rainy San Fran I go!

PortTik – LaGuardia (LGA) Part 1

Much like the city it serves, LaGuardia (LGA) airport can never fully be reviewed at one time so this will be a first installment in order for us to start understanding the complexity and vastness of this property and everything it represents. At first glance LGA looks like a couple of abandoned warehouses connected to a 1950s era mall with an air control tower situated right in the middle. Add in a few dozen parking lots, roads and freeways going every direction and (at the time of this post) everything within sight being currently under construction and you can start to get a visual of how this airport is laid out on the south bank of the East River. LGA is part vintage mixed with modern styles which changes every ten feet or less depending on which direction your heading. Some of its innards are up-to-date, clean and a charm to visit while other parts are worn out, dirty and make you think you flown into a third world county. It’s safe to say that with all that’s going on at LGA…the facility, the people, the good, bad and the outright icky…I’m confident that this airport is an exact representation of New York City which is why it’s one of my favorite places to visit when taking to the skies!

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First opened in 1939, LGA was built on a site of the former Gala Amusement Park in Queens, New York, approximately eight miles east of midtown Manhattan. Formerly known as both the Glenn H. Curtiss and the North Beach Airport, LGA’s name was officially changed in 1947 to honor then New York City Mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, who was in office at the time of its construction. He was also instrumental in persuading his fellow New Yorkers to support a new airport since he refused to recognize Newark as an official landing spot for the city. He worked with airlines like TWA and American to utilize the new airport and within a year of its inaugural flight, LGA became the busiest airport in the world.

laguardia-field-1939-2-mcnyLike many American airports, LGA was used as a military depot during WWII which gave way for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to take over operations in 1947. The 1960s brought major renovations to LGA as it quickly outgrew the main terminal on Grand Central Parkway. A new terminal was constructed along with the signature 150-foot air control tower which was in operation until 2006. LGA now hosts four terminal buildings with 72 gates and sits on approximately 680 acres across northern Queens. In 2015, over 28 million passengers flew in and out of LGA making it the 20th busiest airport in the U.S.

The interior of LGA changes by terminal and in some cases even from one side to the other. Most of it consists of thin hallways with taupe colored walls or gray paneling with low, drop ceilings and tiled floors. 2017-02-10-12-54-21The gates are relatively roomy with a good amount of seating depending again on which part of the airport you happen to be in. There is no lack of food or retail options in all of the terminals but room inside of their facilities can sometimes be a challenge. Of course, it wouldn’t be a real review without a least mentioning the restrooms. Like most of the older era U.S. airport, the entrances are too narrow and your chances of getting a stall with an unbroken coat hanger if fairly low. They have updated some of the restrooms but they are hit or miss. Specifically, for the men’s rooms, dividers at the urinals are a luxury so it’s time for me to start memorizing which one’s have them for my own comfort.

One of the more baffling things about LGA is the lack of a direct mass transit system from Manhattan to the airport. There are a plethora of cabs, buses, shared service rides, (apparently even fake Ubers) but no subway line. fake-uberThis is in contrast to both JKF and Newark who have rail services that serve passengers from NYC to the terminals. Although a real New Yorker or a savvy traveler can figure out how to use a combination of the subway and other means to get to and from LGA, the majority of visitors are left to rely on either slow or expensive transportation has the only options available. From what I understand, this is now being addressed through the expansion efforts currently underway. I imagine easing the congestion around the airport and remaining competitive with the other airports is the reason why this project has finally taken off.

LGA is not just an airport, it’s a part of the New York culture and a gateway for those who want to be a part of it. Millions of people from around the world have experienced one of the greatest cities on Earth because LGA with millions more to come. Yeah it may have its share of problems and visually it is about as appealing as a closed steel mill, but it’s still an amazing place with great things on the way. If you plan on heading to NYC and have a choice…well I would recommend the cheapest flight to whatever airport…but don’t count out LGA. You’ll won’t be sorry because…come on, you’re in New York…and that’s as good as it gets!

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To be continued…

First Classers (FCL)

Thoughts of first class travel bring forth a media manufactured image of grace and high society. This has been developed by years of movies and television programs showing the rich and famous sitting in the front rows of a 747 sipping glasses of champagne and having a short skirted stewardess cater to their every demand. jerry-macguireThe scene in Jerry Maguire where Renée Zellweger (Dorothy) leans forward to listen to Tom Cruise’s (Jerry) story about how he got engaged and then turning to her son saying “first class is what’s wrong. It used to be a better meal. Now it’s a better life” have been embedded in the minds of people everywhere.
Although this might have been based on reality back in the 60s, today the first class cabin is a much different view of what it used to be and has in many ways taking the glamour of high society out of the equation.

Those who frequent the first class cabin are no longer beautiful, rich people wearing expensive clothing and barking demands to the staff although that can still happen. mad-men-season-7Most who fly first class are frequent business travelers who have been awarded the seat through an upgrade and not by purchasing an outright first class ticket beforehand. The first several aisles are usually made up of men in jeans and company logoed jackets peppered along a few in suits, some desperate housewives and millennials who booked the flight using their parent’s credit cards. People who make a living traveling for work can build up their elite status fairly quickly which enable them to fly in luxury. Their constant time away from home is payment enough and many of them deserve the amenities that go with being in first class.

No matter how the ticket was awarded, the idea of a first class cabin still divides the airport population into two distinct classes: those who sit up front and the scrubs. Again, money is not really the issue. The high flying billionaires with ten thousand dollar handbags and ripped jeans that cost more than my car would never be caught dead in an airport. There are private airports for them that most of us will never see or experience. No, the first classers experience the flight in a different way than the scrubs starting from when they board to the plane, to the minute we step off at the final destination. They board first which makes sense in regards to priority however is not actually rational seeing that it would be easier for everyone to board the back of the plane first and build towards the front. Of course, logic is not a part of aviation so let’s not even analyze this little detail right now. The scrubs go through the preflight ceremonies, fighting for position amongst the others in their randomly chosen boarding group while the first classes are settled in, drinks in hand and ready to face the skies. The one fascinating thing about the first classes are their ability to quickly be engulfed into some sort of work or entertainment before the rest of us even get on board (BTW…why are first classers the only people on the planet who still read physical newspapers?). newpapers-memeLooking at them you would think that they had been sitting there for hours before having to endure the throngs on desperate eyed wannabes shuffling to their seats in the back. I have to hand it to the flight attendants and their ability to get the first classers drinks prepared and to them so quickly. Most of the time, they slip past you without you ever knowing they were there.

During the flight, the first classers are waited on by a prompt designated flight attendant and depending on the size of the aircraft, they have a separate restroom as well. Although, I have personally never flown first class, I can’t imagine it being any better than the ones in a normal cabin. Jerry Seinfeld’s questioning of the types of flowers in the bathroom are just another example of the media fed fiction that engulfs the first class world. seinfeldAgain, depending on the plane, the flight, the airline, etc., etc., the first classers can have many more advantages over their economy counterparts including free drinks, meals, enhanced entertainment options and sometimes seats that fully recline. When the expression “you get what you pay for” was first coined, I imagine the author was sitting in the cramped, middle seat in row 32 looking north and seeing a better world many aisles away.

One thing about the first class experience is that it really does begin and end with the flight itself. Many airlines have now even limited the access of their lounges to those who straight up bought a first class ticket and not someone who has been awarded one through their status or miles.majorca_airport_baggage_glitch-389949 There are no first class restaurants or parking options available and like the rest of us, they still have to lug their own bags on board or go through the painful ritual of baggage claim for checked luggage.
Even at the gate, until you start getting up to board, there is really no designated area for first classers and they are forced to sit with the rest of us scrubs. This keeps the first classers humble and their advantages concentrated to just one part of the overall flight experience.

I can say whatever I want about the first classers in order to justify my position but the truth is I would trade places with any of them in a second. Let me on first and give me my damn drink is what I’m shooting for and hopefully in due time, my own flight regiments will earn me the right to check that upgrade button and see my name flash across the confirmation screen. Until then, I will continue to waltz past them towards my place in the back and may or may not purposely let my shoulder bag brush the sides of their heads as I walk by. Enjoy yourself thoroughly first classers, I coming for you one flight at a time!trade-places