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"Skies just don't seem too friendly these days"


 
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Column
Skies just don't seem too friendly these days 
By Todd Cline
The Gwinnett (GA) Daily Post


With all the long lines thanks to checkpoints and searches, it's almost
impossible to go through security at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport without hearing someone say they feel like herded
cattle.

But there is one major difference. Eventually cattle are put out of their
misery, whereas after our herding you and I are left to try to make our
connecting flight to Akron. It's a tough call who gets the better end of
that deal, but at least the cattle have no choice.

You and I do. But despite what air travel has become, we choose to wait in
the lines, go through the searches, limit our take-ons, sit through the
delays and generally agree to accept whatever we get from the airlines. We
love to fly, but I don't know why.

I'm not a big-time traveler by any means, but I fly a decent amount and have
always accepted that whatever travails come with flying are OK because at
least it beats driving. But I'm starting to question that mentality. I'm
slowly coming around to a new way of thinking, that for short-to-medium
trips it's better to hit the road.

I understand the need for heightened security, I really do. But the time
that adds on top of the time it takes to park and the time it takes to get
your bags checked means you could be more than halfway to Nashville before
the time your flight is set to depart.

That's assuming you have no problems getting to the airport. This being
Atlanta, that's hardly the case. On my last trip it took me a little more
than two hours to get to the airport from Lawrenceville, a pair of accidents
making an early afternoon flight time much less accessible than it appeared.

Oddly enough you don't appreciate airport security quite as much when your
flight is 10 minutes from departing and you have to remove your hat, your
shoes and possibly your small intestine to make it through to the airport's
next level of defense - the train.

If you think a watched pot takes a long time to boil, try waiting for an
airport train when time is of the essence. Seconds feel like hours, and the
journey to Concourse C seems to take days.

But my folks didn't raise a quitter, so on I marched, arriving at the gate
at precisely 1:28, the time my plane was scheduled to depart. Despite the
plane sitting there - plainly in my sight, not moving an inch - I wasn't
allowed to board. The plane was full, they had given away my seat 10 minutes
earlier.

The airport had won. It usually does.

I had more than three hours to ponder that before my next flight arrived
(fittingly, it was late). And it occurred to me that while the airline
industry says it's ready when I am, it's really the other way around.

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