Monday, May 26, 2014

Travel Torments

I'm thankful to be safely arrived in London and for the luxury of having an entire month to explore places I've never had time for before, but I have to say…air travel today seems to be going further and further downhill.

It doesn't have to be. Just a week ago I returned from the RT Convention in New Orleans and was so comfortable I slept nearly the whole trip. And I remember my London trip via Delta last year was reasonably comfortable. In both cases, I had a window seat and leaned against the window. Even an aisle seat wouldn't be terrible. Middle seats I avoid like the plague.

So I always book my flights months in advance and even pay extra to choose seats. But if your flight gets cancelled and you get put on another one, chances are the only seats left are the dreaded middle ones.

To make matters worse, I was suffering from a nasty cold—no doubt picked up from my neighbors at the Giant Book Signing at the RT Convention in New Orleans—and was concerned that in close quarters I might pass it on to my seatmates. 

Although I was slightly better than the day before, I still had a slight fever and a dreadful cough. I packed my carry-on carefully with lozenges and Tylenol and tissues, never once considering that I'd end up tightly packed into a middle seat, where I could barely reach into the bag, let alone try to find what I was looking for!

One of my seatmates was completely up in arms about having been rudely treated by gate agents when she arrived late for her flight to Paris and was refused entry despite the fact that the door was still open, departure time was still eight minutes away, and the plane didn't leave the gate for 25 minutes! Why did they deny her? A new rule on American Airlines: if you don't appear at the gate at least ten minutes before departure, they won't let you board. And they were really, really rude to her. As though her plane being late were her fault.

Now they must have some reason for issuing such a rule, but to say she was pissed off when she saw the flight we were on allowing people on after departure time—we were about 45 minutes late taking off—would be an understatement. She was so outraged that she was literally screaming at the flight attendants, and I could tell they were within an inch of throwing her off the plane. She finally cooled off—a little—but I must have heard the story of how this was going to ruin her entire trip at least two dozen times that night.

Headache • sore throat • coughing • almost no wiggle room at all, especially when the person in front of me reclined her seat • seatmate who wouldn't stop talking • dreadful thirst (didn't have time to stock up on water and the flight attendants only passed drinks twice = no sleep. By the time we finally touched down, I had a backache to add to the list, and as I wheeled my baggage down miles of corridors through immigration and customs, I was literally dripping with sweat from a breaking fever.

I guess what I want to say is that it appears to me that airlines's new policies are making travel more and more unpleasant for travelers. It was my decision to travel while ill, but even if I'd been able to book a comparable flight later, I wasn't going to get back the money I paid for the expensive flat in central London. Cancelation was not an option.

Flights are delayed and cancelled for a lot of reasons, and I wouldn't try to blame them for the weather hiccups, but sometimes it really is their fault. Like mechanics searching for paperwork on a dent on the plane to make sure it's an old dent and nothing new. Am I glad they are careful about things like that? Yes, of course. But such delays cause passengers to miss connections, or, as in the case of my seatmate, appear two minutes late for hers and get chewed out by testy gate agents. Oh, she gave out plenty of abuse on her part, but I'm thinking if they could treat passengers like human beings instead of cattle, it would be better for all. From my view, the employees seemed overworked and harassed and that just does not lead to good customer relations.

On the positive side, I'm settled into my London flat (see it here), recovering from my cold and the horrendous trip. Taking it easy this weekend, but Monday I intend to start my list of places to visit, and Tuesday I'm traveling down to Brighton for the day. Next week—on my birthday—I'm staying overnight at Chatsworth.

If you'd like to keep in touch with my London explorations, follow my blog Susana's Parlour below. I'll also be posting photos on Facebook and Pinterest.

Susana's Releases

Treasuring Theresa
She's a country lady. He's a London swell. They have nothing in common. Or have they?

A Twelfth Night Tale
A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions. 

About Susana

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley, Central Florida and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

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Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)

1 comment:

Tina Donahue said...

Wow - I envy you getting to travel like that. You're right about airlines. It's about as uncomfortable as it can possibly be while prices keep going up. Gotta love it.