Air Travel

Wise Old Men and Treachery

Snowfall and cold weather always makes me glad I am no longer a road warrior. No offense to those of you who are kings of the road or air but I paid my dues in 25 years of traveling and no, I do not miss dragging a laptop and rollaway through a crowded airport.

Airports seem to bring out the best and worst in individuals. I do not know why unless the un-indoctrinated simply have no clue and the road warriors are fighting for the last upgrade while trying to make the last deal of the day screaming on their cell phone. Not too many years ago those with fancy cell phones had to be sure everyone knew what kind of phone they had and sometimes would demonstrate the speaker capabilities to anyone sitting within a football field distance.

To my amazement most of the “studs” of travel are all alike regardless of city or airport. They all believe they are the most important person in the airport. For example if a flight is late or cancelled they are the most boisterous and rude of all individuals. These most important of all fliers would spend time explaining to the airline employees how important they were and how they could not miss a plane or be denied an upgrade. I discovered early on that appearing to be sad and a little lost would get you quicker and better attention than telling everyone of your importance.

Prior to 2001, one sure fire way to achieve sympathy from female gate attendants was to show up with my tie slightly askew, my hair slightly wind blown, my shoulders slightly slumped and a sad look upon my face. To add to the pathetic scene I could always stop and purchase a fully loaded hot dog prior to approaching the gate. Then, with a little mustard stuck on my lip and a little chili dripping from the hot dog I would muster up my most pitiful voice and say in a low octave “could anyone here possibly help me?” The results were normally beyond belief. Upgrades and seat assignments were passed out like candy. Alas, those days are gone forever.

Once in St. Louis, I was denied an upgrade on a flight home due to my frequent flyer status. I was a mere “gold level” and some young stud behind me was “platinum”. He got the upgrade and let me know that he had paid the price for the upgrade due to his constant travel. I do not converse with self important near-do-wells and did not bother to tell him that I was gold on 3 airlines instead of platinum on only one. It would have been a useless comment.

Instead I looked out the window at the aircraft assigned to fly me to Atlanta. The nose cone was up and the entire radar unit was on the tarmac. This was only one hour prior to the flight. Immediately I inconspicuously walked three gates down the concourse where another flight to Atlanta was scheduled to depart one hour after my scheduled flight. It was almost empty and I secured a boarding pass and an upgrade after a little begging and groveling. I always tried to not check any baggage and this trip was no exception. I walked past my original gate as an announcement was being given but due to the noise it was not understood by those waiting. I informed those who would listen that this plane would not be flying tonight due to the maintenance it was presently undergoing. Young “Platinum-stud-frequent-flyer” heard me and told everyone not to worry because he flew all of the time and radar being on the ground was not a major problem.

The time for the original flight came and went and no departure. I walked back to my new gate and about the time I did they called my original flight. Oh well, I had been wrong before. I loaded into my upgraded seat and prepared to eat some crow and be a little late getting into Atlanta. At our scheduled time we were treated to an announcement that we would be delayed slightly while the luggage and passengers from my original flight were loaded onto my new flight. (the original flight was scrapped due to aircraft maintenance issues.) By now some of the passengers had listened to me and had already made the change. I got home a little late but I slept like a baby on the plane after hearing one of the transferred passengers speak of an angry young man at the gate that could not get on our flight because the flight was full. There is something to the old adage an old man and treachery will always defeat a young man and skill. It may not always work but when it does, the taste is as sweet as ambrosia.

Bubba Terry