Traveling by plane almost always gets my blood pressure going. I’m already nervous, because I’m not a frequent flyer. I do not travel for jobs, and we take twice as many car vacations as we take airplane vacations. I don’t know the rules as well as maybe I should. Is chapstick a liquid? Do I take my computer out of my bag before I put it through X-ray? Shoes on or off?
The gate attendants are well meaning (at least usually), but when they announce the flight, it sounds like a garbled mess, interrupted with the ubiquitous announcements that start off, “In the interest of airport security…” and the airport-wide requests for Passenger Johnson to please report to Carousel 9 to retrieve a lost item. My husband is usually wandering around the airport reading newspaper and being distracted by calls from his son.
And when I get on the plane, I’m crowded and uncomfortable. I don’t fly first class, because I’d rather throw money in a slot machine than pay for an upgrade, and unlike many frequent travelers, I do not fly one airline frequently enough to accumulate miles.
Maybe it’s only me, but I find that I can rarely hear the flight attendant over the sound of the plane.
To combat these stressors, I tend to review airport security policies before I get to the airport. I get to the airport a half hour early, and I carefully manage my carry-on. I carry a change of clothes and my medication in my carry-on, and I bring as many things to distract me as possible (my kindle, smartphone, computer, and sometimes, a book for takeoff and landing). I eat before I get on the plane and skip the food service. I book a window seat, and I establish with my seatmates my disinclination to chat. (My husband sometimes enjoys chatting, so he’s my buffer).
So, given my general travel-anxiety (odd, since I LOVE travel), it is perhaps not surprising that stories such as these make my stomach sink:
A woman on a Southwest flight claims she was removed from a plane because she was crying when she asked for a glass of wine. I note that while Southwest is not the only airline that removes people from planes for things that seem unfair, it does seem as if the airline has an unusually large number of misunderstandings with passengers.
Apparently, the TSA wants to start asking me more questions. I really hope that that they understand that my nervous responses might be due to the guys with the really big guns standing 10 feet away, or with the fact that they have the power and authority to take me away from my husband behind a plexiglass wall, and even into a private room, for further interrogation!