Atlanta to LAX
Brian and I arrived at the airport within 10 minutes of each other and met at Baggage Carousel 1, beside the Delta counters, then he went to those counters and checked in first, since his plane was leaving an hour before mine. Then we went to Airtran so I could check in. We had each covered our backpacks with thick garbage bags to prevent the miscellaneous baggage handling incidents from damaging them. Delta was just fine with this, but Airtran had a problem. Terry informed me that the plastic bag would damage their carousel belt. I told him that Delta had no issues with the damage on their equipment. He astutely observed that they were NOT Delta. He seemed exasperated by having to point this out to me, since I obviously had no idea. He seemed a bit offended that I would expect him to provide the same level of service offered by other airlines — I have even checked garbage bags full of loose clothing on two other airlines. I didn’t point out to Tony that the buckles on my bag are made of plastic and the material the bag is made of is plastic and would therefore be just as likely to damage their carousel.
I’m about halfway into the flight as I’m writing this (note: I’m typing this in at a different time). The flight has been bumpy, but tolerable. Business class is pretty neat. The seats are wide and have plenty of legroom. The flight attendants come around very often and it was hard for me to adjust. I had to say “no” to the third refill of water, as I have a long way left to go. In coach class, 3 glasses of water would be about 4 hours worth of flight time. The two girls in front of me are a bit superficial, but they’re from LA. One shares a plastic surgeon as somebody famous (I didn’t recognize the name), and also apparently knows Jessica Biel. Or at least that’s what I’ve overheard. They also drink white wine on the rocks.
The woman sitting next to me in the aisle seat is from Los Angeles and is a producer/writer. She’s very nice and we had a few good discussions. We talked about traveling and the countries we’ve been to. She got married and lived in France for 3 years. She developed a pilot for a TV show apparently about computer hackers. That led us to talking about my job and all of the ins and outs of who the people are who break into computer systems, etc. It was pretty nice talking to somebody who’s non-technical, but who has read a good deal about them.
The rest of the flight was uneventful. We landed and taxied into the terminal. I was really surprised at how shabby LAX is. I guess I had expected the place to be covered in gold with paparazzi running everywhere trying to catch the latest snapshot of whoever is hot this week in Hollywood. The famous people must use a different airport.
I grabbed my bag and was relieved that there was no damage to it other than a couple of scuffs. War Wounds. Getting from domestic baggage claim to the international ticketing area was not too navigable. I had to leave the building, walk about 100 meters — I opted not to take the shuttle that distance — go up some stairs, and locate the proper area to check in. Thanks to some decent directions and lucky guessing, I found it. But when you go to check in, you can’t just get in line with your checked luggage. You have to get in a line to give your bag to some handlers who run it through a big scanner. Then you get in a line to get your bag back. Only you don’t get to touch your bag, somebody else escorts you, pushing the bag on a cart, puts it in a corral, then someone else gets it from the herd and takes it to the counter. The whole thing seemed like a racket for the bag carriers’ union, but airports are rarely ever run efficiently. The process reminded me of the Dr. Seuss cartoon with the Sneeches lining up and then going and getting right back into a different line. It didn’t make it easier that native Spanish speakers were trying to give directions to native Asian-language speakers.
But the line moved smoothly and I was able to get to the terminal quickly. Now I’m on the plane, about 2 hours into the flight. I know that I should sleep, but I am resisting closing my eyes out of spite for losing even a minute’s worth of experiences. But I think I’ll turn off the light and get some rest now. Less than a minute, I’m sure.