I used to fly cross-country all the time. At least once a year, Portland to Pittsburgh and back again. As an “unaccompanied child” in a pre-9/11 era, it was a blast. I looked forward to the flights. I loved going through security (back then, it was just the metal detector and the thing for your bags, and you could have a soda and nail clippers and nobody cared), loved lugging my big boxcar suitcase with the leash and the wheels. And the matching carry on bag. So grown up! Of course, I also was lugging my giant stuffed panda, so maybe not quite so grown up, but still.
The best flights were the ones where I changed planes in Seattle. On the way there, it was this cool little twenty minute mini-flight, and then you got to settle in for a nice long flight. On the way back, it was like an energy boost: yay, almost there! And that long flight would have food and snacks and a movie and radio and was just so damn cool.
Back then, I loved flying on USAir. They had Combos instead of peanuts and ice cream sandwiches for dessert. And hot towels, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. And little bitty pillows and cool fuzzy blankets…you know, I think flying is just a lot more fun when you’re a kid. All my memories of it are pretty good. Except the time that the flight attendants moved all us unaccompanied kids to first class. They told me the spinach fettuccine with Alfredo sauce was “just like spaghetti” but I still remember the horror when I saw green noodles with white sauce on them.
I wish flying was that much fun now. I avoid it as much as I can because it’s such a pain in the ass, and it isn’t just the post 9/11 security clusterfuck bullshit. It’s inconvenient even if you discount the gropefest at the metal detectors and having to take your damn shoes off. And it’s so fucking tedious; the last time I flew cross-country I thought I would snap from the boredom. And the leg cramps, and the fat guy stealing the armrest, and the people with the screaming baby.
The last time I flew was in 2007, when I had a flurry of cross-country travel. Left LA and got stranded in Buffalo, then flew to Virgina, to Oregon, a round trip to New York City and one more round trip to Virginia. All in an eight-week period. That was the Great Escape, which is an entirely different blog post. But I definitely remember how different it was from the last time I’d flown (1999? I think?). I still looked forward to the flights, even with all the annoyance, but they never lived up to my expectations.
I guess next time will be different; I’ll be the parent, and maybe I’ll get to enjoy Edward’s experience in the sky. I try to rediscover the world through his eyes every day, so maybe it will be a new kind of enjoyment. I’d like to wait until he’s a few years old to avoid that screaming phase though. I’ll pack his carry on with new toys and books the way my mom used to and I’ll book the exit row so he has room to play on the floor. Yeah, actually, that sounds better than flying as an “unaccompanied child,” because he’ll have someone to play with.