Love it or hate it: Flying

by Jaime Becktel

Love it

I dig flying. Air travel is my ticket to ride to far-flung places of mind-bending excellence, and the journey begins at the departure curb. Inside the airport, I love pondering the mish-mash of humanity – mullets and headscarves, coveralled pot-bellies and stiletto-heeled fake tits. Business guy on his phone, solo girl in her book – where are they going? Where are they from?

I enjoy observing the psychological warfare between sleep-deprived toddler and bedraggled parent. I smile at piles of track-suited athletes on their way to some grand victory, preciously embraided lovers, soldiers in fatigues, Buddhist monks in socks and sandals.

A shuffling cultural pageant, the security line is especially intriguing. Shoulder to shoulder and barefoot beside a milieu of colorful strangers, I opt for the pat down instead of the microwave. The careworn security attendant is no-nonsense as she checks me for danger, but her eyes soften briefly at the telling of a silly joke. I read on her expression, “OK girl, that was cute. I now hate you less.” A positive exchange.

The minute I touch a plane I fall asleep. Flying is like a giant Ambien for me, and with a neck pillow, some headphones, sunglasses and my indispensable wool serape, I’m out. I talk to seatmates when I feel like it and politely ignore them when I don’t. I bring delicious snacks to augment the sub-par airline provisions, and with a good book in hand, I settle in for a real nice time. Yeah, I dig flying.

— Jaime Becktel

Hate it

Let’s set aside everything that happens before you even set foot in that cramped, stuffy, germ-filled, virus-filled, screaming baby-filled, stained-seat-laden disaster of an airplane.

I don’t need to mention booking the flight, where the price for the same ticket is $350 nonstop one day and $895 with three stops and an overnight layover in Assville, Kentucky, the next. I don’t need to mention standing in a snaking line for 35 minutes, not for a roller coaster or a waterslide, no, but simply praying to the Baby King that my flight info and boarding pass come up on a self-serve ticket kiosk.

I don’t need to mention the humiliating “because terrorism” activity of taking off my shoes, taking off my belt (which I wear primarily for one, silly, ridiculous reason: my pants fall to the floor without it), having my plastic bin stolen by the pony-tailed man on his phone behind me, for the privilege of walking through a fry-my-innards X-ray machine, then having to explain the various ointments in my toiletry bag to the snidest, most power-tripping TSA worker ever. I don’t need to mention the $9.50 I paid for the worst bagel I’ve ever had while I wait at my gate, hoping my flight status isn’t changed from “delayed indefinitely” to “canceled … and to hell with you.”

No, I hate flying because I’m a bigger fella and, without fail, whenever I board an airplane, I am comically seated next to a 6-foot-9, 375-pound, small-talk-loving Ted Cruz supporter for three and a half hours, with a staunch recliner seated in front of me, and an adamant seat-kicker behind. And that’s just not cool.

— David Holub

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