Really, Really Dumb- Or, What I Learned At The Airport This Weekend
So I was supposed to go to San Francisco this weekend, but missed my flight. That in and of itself itsn't a big deal. I was sick and didn't really want to go, and Schmoopie was wretching her guts out, so it was for the best, but I learned an interesting and stupid thing about the system of air travel. I've previously ranted in one way or another about the mouth breathers working in airport "security", but this little nugget has to do with the idiocy that is commonly known as United Airlines.
Due to a variety of little factors, like me dragging ass, and not being driven to the airport by Schmoopie, I ended up at the terminal at 6:40AM for a 7:15 flight. Sure, that was close, but I had no luggage to check and the gate wasn't far so I didn't anticipate any problems. I went to the self check in deal and it said that I could not check in because there were less than 45 minutes until departure. Yeah, and? No and- that's all. It is the opinion of UAL that I cannot get through the screening and make it to the gate in under 45 minutes. Really.
I stopped and asked a guy with one of those bulky old Motorola radio/phones in a red UAL shirt if there was no way to override this so I could boogie down to the security line. "No. You're never going to make that flight". What? Seriously? Yup.
So I ended up going back to the car, and paying the $4 fee for visiting the terminal to the parking fascists and went home. But this is what occurred to me along the way- suppose I had checked in online the night before? I'd have already had my boarding pass and could have shown up even later. What's more, I seem to recall being seated on a plane waiting to depart, and having the departure time pass as we (the entire plane full of people) waited for some passenger to be found. As in- they held the flight! I used to think that these people were inconsiderate dicks, muckety mucks, or both. Turns out, they knew what I now know- make the airline your bitch. Check in early and then get some rest and take your time.
Why on earth should I have to show up to the airport several hours early with my 2.5 ounce MAXIMUM bottle of shampoo, toothpaste, or whatever, all in a clear ziplock back, so that some illegal alien, slack jawed, room temperature IQ, dipshit with bloated pig eyes that don't blink at the same time can x-ray my fucking clothing to see if I left a 3 ounce container in my carry on bag? Seriously? I don't believe for a moment that Charlene and/or Earl in the spiffy TSA uniforms are going to do jack shit to stop terrorism or keep me safe. A terrorist of even moderate imagination can mentally outflank the "security" at the goddamned airport, and so what? I'm still flying. All the TSA does is reinforce to all of us regular folk that we are not in charge of anything, and test our collective obediance and willingness to be fucked by passive aggressive authority figures in shirts with epaulets. And in this case, UAL does not believe that I can navigate the securi-tards and have a 5 minute walk in under 45 minutes. Wow- when a shitty and bankrupt misery of an airline like UAL calls you out as slow moving, that's quite an accolade.
But the exposed Achilles Heel is this- once you have checked in, you are in charge more than you know. At that point, they NEED you to cooperate, but can't seem to force you. Hoo-fucking-ray! I can't wait until I fly again. I'm checking in early, with a lot of heavy baggage, and then I'm going to get lost on the concourse. Maybe I'll go tap my feet in the crapper and see if I can fuck with some people. If they arrest me for soliciting in the toilet, I'll use the arrest photo and publicity to announce my Senate candidacy. Maybe I'll cause a scene in the food court by accusing the McDonalds of putting mood control drugs in the secret sauce. I'll wear Depends on top of my pants and wear big rubber boots filled to overflowing with creamed corn, and preach to passersby about the disappearing Utah wetlands. I'll conspicuously smell things, like handrails on escalators. I will do all of this until 5 minutes AFTER the scheduled departure time, whereupon, I will announce that Allah (praise be unto him) wants me to board my flight now.
Labels: Shit Rick Steves Never Told Me