Guest Posts!

Guest Post #3: Direct Flight to Therapy Town

Guest post author: The one and only Sarah Graham

Trip type: Business

Airline: British Airways

Route: BOS-LHR-EBB

When my job decided to send me on another trip to Uganda I wasn’t too excited about the 15 hours of flying that it takes to get there. While yes, it is a great opportunity to pound as much free wine as they will allow while secretly making up back stories about all of the missionaries on the flights, it is also a long trip followed immediately by a six hour car ride.

I was also dreading the flight because I was tasked with traveling with our newest employee, a middle aged woman who didn’t have much experience in the developing world. When prepping for the trip, she was a little surprised when I told her that no, it was not necessary to pack a full-sized computer printer so we could print name tags right on site. Not only does Uganda have printers available, but we are not so classy that we can’t use sharpies and stick on name tags.

Anyway, I digress. As luck would have it, a minor plane crash years ago meant that my coworker was placed in first class while I slummed it in the back. I had just plopped down in the seat and managed to snag the elbow rest when my seat mate joined me. He looked to be about 75 years old and I immediately got the minister vibe. Before I could even settle in with a good book, he was peppering me with questions. We covered the basics such as where I was traveling from, where I was heading, why I was going and what sort of work I was doing there. He then, quite easily, segued into questions about my personal life such as whether or not I saw myself getting married, what my longest relationship was, whether or not I had been in love and if I thought I had commitment issues. Wow. I have seen my fair share of therapists and they weren’t even that direct! I was just beginning to fear the conversations we would get into over the next eight hours sitting together when British Airways saved the day and turned on our individual television screens.

I then politely told my new-found therapist that I was going to have a little quiet time. I put on my headphones and proceeded to watch back-to-back-to-back Ryan Gosling movies. Yes, you read that right. Three Ryan Gosling movies in a row. It was heavenly.

***

Guest Post #2: Washington, Missouri: The city so nice, I went there twice (in one week)

Guest Author: Alex, favorite sibling and Senior Travel Correspondent

I recently traveled down to Washington, Missouri via St. Louis twice in one week. First on Monday, then again on Thursday. Miscommunications happen, right? The first time I went down, I flew Southwest, and the second time I was on Delta. Whereas my sister often likes to observe the peculiar things that other people do, I am often that peculiar person that would be observed. Let us compare two legs of the trip, and how different the experiences were.

Trip Type: Business
Airline: Southwest
Route: STL – MSP (Tuesday)

My flight was booked by my work through a travel agency. This made it so that I could not check-in to the flight until I arrived at the airport. I was in group C 35. If you are unfamiliar with Southwest, you board the plane in the chronological order that you check in. I knew I was near the back of the line. So I waited. A1-A30 you can board. A31-A60 you can board. Next families can board. B1-B30 you are next. All right B31-B60 you can board. C1-C30 you can board. C31-C60 you can line up now. I did not have much hope for having a good seat.

Luckily, I was ready for the drill. I was fairly certain every window and aisle seat would be filled, while every middle seat would be open. The key to this is to not keep walking to the back of the plane. The seats will be full back there, too. Just take the first open middle seat you see.

So, I board the plane, and sure enough I can see all the way back and it looks like every aisle and every window seat is taken. I start scouting the middles. Row 2? No, the aisle guy has a cowboy hat, and those guys tend to be talkative. What about the other side on Row 2? No, the person in the window seat is talking to the person in the aisle seat. I don’t want to talk to anyone. All right, Row 3? Look left…large person alert. The armrest is already up. I’m not dealing with that if I don’t have to. Look right, jackpot. One guy on his Blackberry, and the other guy looks all confused by life itself. So, I sit down, put my bag under my seat, and look straight ahead. I then proceed to fall asleep 10 minutes later. I guess it wasn’t all bad.

Trip Type: Business
Airline: Delta
Route: MSP – STL (Thursday)

I found about this second trip Wednesday night, so I bought my ticket first thing Thursday morning to fly out Thursday afternoon. Middle seat. What is this, Southwest? I checked-in at work before I go to the airport, and there weren’t any open seats I could change to that weren’t also middle seats. (If you can’t tell, I’m not a fan of middle seats.) So I get to the airport, get to my gate, and figure, what the heck, I might as well ask the gate attendant if there are any open seats.

The gate attendant indulges me and writes my name down on some scratch paper, saying she will “let me know if anything turns up.” I don’t hold out much hope and went off in search of sustenance.

I was then shocked when 20 minutes later they call me up to the gate. “We were able to find you an aisle seat.” Excellent. That’s great. I go back to waiting for the plane to board. There are about 30 minutes before we board still, so I pull out my laptop and work on a few things. I do that for about 10 minutes when they call me up again to the gate.

At first I’m annoyed. I have to turn off my laptop, take out the air-card, and re-pack it in my bag so that I can go up to the gate. All those PSAs in the airport about never leaving one’s bag unattended have really sunk in. Then, as I’m walking up to the desk, I panic: What if they are going to take away my new seat from me? If I don’t go up there, can I keep the seat I have, and call it good? Being unable to not follow instructions, I find myself continuing to walk up to the desk, even though I don’t want to. “An exit row aisle seat became available. We thought you would want it.” Yes, Yes I do. Delta, I may love you. I then went and sat back down, but didn’t get out my laptop again while I waited, hoping maybe my lucky streak would continue and a first class seat would open up. It didn’t happen. Still, exit row was nice.

And yes, I did store my bag in the overhead compartment after my last run-in with a flight attenant. Turns out, I can learn lessons.

***

Guest Post #1: A Problem With Authority

Guest Author: Alex, my beloved brother

Trip Type: Business
Airline: Delta
Route: AUS-MSP

I was scheduled on a 5:15p flight back home from a business trip to Austin. After being sold for the past few days on why I need to use 3M products in all my future projects, I was ready to get out of Austin. That, and the 7:00a meeting I was scheduled for the next morning. Needless to say, after the plane was delayed an hour, I was getting a little stabby.

The plane I was on was a regional jet, that had two seats on either side of the aisle; a window and an aisle. I was in the aisle seat. Being the good samaritan that I am, I always store my bag under the seat in front of me, to leave space in the overhead compartments for my fellow fliers. Well, that, and I may be a little bit paranoid to let my bag out of my sight. Regardless, I always put my bag under the seat in front of me, and being the compulsive person I am, I like to do the same thing every time.

So, I had my bag under the seat in from of me, and we were getting ready for takeoff. This is where the flight attendant comes into the picture.

Flight Attendant: Sir, can you push your bag all the way under the seat
Me: It’s already as far back as it goes
Flight Attendant: Can you flip it horizontally so that it fits further underneath?
Me: No, because then that would infringe on the leg room of the woman sitting next to me
Flight Attendant: Sir, I’m going to need to store your bag
Me: Why?
Flight Attendant: In the case of an emergency, your bag could get in the way of a safe exit
Me: I’m not in the exit row
Flight Attendant: The woman next to you has to get by in the case of an emergency

(As a note, with my bag in its current illegal position, I can comfortably fit my feet in-between where my bag ends, and the bar underneath my seat. The woman next to me would have more than enough room for an orderly exit. Anyway, I decided that I’m probably not going to win this battle)

Me: Fine.

(The flight attendant opens the overhead bin above me, clearly giving me the “this is where bags go” hint. I pull my bag out from under my seat, and start to get up to put my bag in the overhead bin. As I get about half-way standing up, the flight attendant puts her hand on my shoulder, causing me to lose my balance, and fall back into my seat).

Flight Attendant: Sir, I need you to stay in your seat with your seatbelt on.
Me: We haven’t even left the gate. Let me put my bag in the overhead bin.

(I try to get up again, and she again prevents me from standing up).

Flight Attendant: Sir, I need you to stay in your seat. I can put your bag in the overhead bin.

At this point, the quick thought crossed my head, of how much more do I want to argue with her. I decide I don’t want to risk getting thrown off the plane, so I hand her my bag, which she then stores in the overhead bin.

The rest of the flight was uneventful. We sat on the runway for 30 minutes before takeoff due to some awful plane management by the control tower. Seriously, when an airport has multiple runways, why did we go and wait for the one runway to open up while the other runway wasn’t used? In this instance I could have passed the time reading the book I brought, but that book was now in the overhead bin, and I was sure the overzealous flight attendant would not appreciate me getting out of my seat. Instead to pass the time, I had my legs crossed, with my knee in the back of the seat in front me, preventing the man in front of me from reclining his chair. Fun fact: If you prevent the person in front of you from reclining at the beginning of the flight, then you have all the space for the whole flight, because they don’t try to recline after they have already tried to recline their seat the first time.

I did get up later on in the flight when the fasten seatbelt light was on because I had to go to the bathroom. I waited until the flight attendant had her back turned to me. That showed her. I think we know who won this battle.

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