Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back from the coast

Airline travel is always an adventure these days. Some snippets:

*My wife phoned from Los Angeles last week, where she had journeyed a day before I was to join her there for her dad's funeral. "I guess they think I'm a terrorist," she said, having been singled out on the Albany Airport security line to be screened by a relatively new-fangled air-blowing device. "Hum," was my wittiest reply. Twenty four hours later, I, too, was singled out on the Albany Airport security line for the same special screening. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

*Return trip. Again, my wife and I traveled a day apart. Flying weather was perfect both days. I flew Saturday from LAX to O'Hare to Albany without incident, arriving home early. Sunday was to be a day to get over jet lag, save for the brief ride back to Albany to pick up my wife. Wrong! She phoned from the tarmac in LA shortly after 6 a.m. her time, informing me her plane hadn't departed due to equipment problems. That would put her in danger of missing her connecting flight in Cincinnati. An hour later, she was off the plane, rearranging her itinerary with the gate agent. She was switching airlines and destinations, and I'd have to pick her up at Newark at 5:30 p.m. our time. So much for my quiet Sunday.

*So now I'm off to Newark, having followed the progress of the flight on the Web and seeing it was going to land on time. Some quick calculations told me I could leave Woodstock at about 3:40, hope traffic was light (it was), pull up to the arrivals area just after 5:30, by which time my wife (who wasn't going to check luggage) would be there for a quick getaway. Indeed, she phoned just as I was approaching the airport exit on the Turnpike, saying the plane was taxiing to the gate. Only one problem: There wasn't enough room for her carry-on bag, so they'd checked it and she'd have to go to baggage claim. No quick getaway.

*Here's the kicker: I pull up to the arrivals exit, put on the flashing lights and wait for my wife to emerge, all the while expecting airline security to hustle me along. Other airports barely give you give time to drop off or pick up passengers before they clear you away, fearing the worst inside each vehicle. Not so in front of Terminal A at Newark, at least not on this Sunday night. It was nearly a half-hour before my wife reached the car. The car in front of me had sat parked even longer. The good news: I didn't have to circle around the airport. The bad news: Not particularly reassuring security measures outside the Terminal A.
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