I actually wrote this in the airport on Saturday but I’m flying home today, so who knows…?
The sun is coming up and I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board my flight. While I sit here with my carry-on baggage tucked close to my feet so no evil person can tamper with it, I’m reflecting on the changes in air travel since I flew for the first time thirty-some years ago.
After several decades, you’d think things would have changed more than they have. I still feel unaccountably guilty every time I go through security. The boarding lounges are still the same boring rows of uncomfortable seating. In fact, judging by the numbness of my butt, these may even be the very same seats as thirty years ago.
They still ask us to get to the airport an hour or two before our flight, apparently for the sole purpose of clogging the boarding lounge with cranky people.
The aircraft are basically the same. The same cramped seats, the same seatbelts, the same impossibly tiny washrooms. I never cease to marvel at the fact that some people actually have sex in those washrooms. Hell, there’s barely room for me in there. Then again, I guess if you did actually manage to cram two people in there, they’d pretty well have to be having sex.
It’s funny, but the only major improvements are to the airport terminal washrooms and the public-address systems – the two things that aren’t directly related to flying.
I like the automatic flush toilets, except when they flush before I’m done. There’s nothing like a splash of icy water on your ass and a sudden loud noise to get the old adrenaline pumping. But it’s nice to see they haven’t eliminated (sorry) the most critical function of airport toilets: they still project a spray of contaminated water up to three feet when you flush, and it’s impossible to vacate the cubicle fast enough to avoid it. You haven’t truly travelled until you have splatters of toilet water on your pants.
I have a love/hate relationship with the motion-activated water taps and soap dispensers, too. When they work, they’re wonderful. When they don’t (which is most of the time), I feel like an idiot waving my hands up, down, and sideways under an unresponsive spigot. But, whatever. I look like an idiot on a semi-regular basis anyway, so there’s really no added humiliation there.
The change I appreciate most is the improved public-address system. I used to hate those old PA systems that sounded like a garburator attacking a table-setting for twelve. You never knew whether they were saying your departure gate had changed and you had ten seconds to get to the opposite end of the airport; or that your flight had been cancelled altogether; or possibly that a fireball of death was speeding directly toward the terminal and everybody should flee. It’s wonderful to be able to effortlessly interpret the announcements now.
But I’ve just discovered that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The public address system just came on and delivered a lovely, crystal clear message: my flight has been delayed for nearly two hours.
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Since “that new-fangled internet” can be unreliable in airports, I’ll be responding to comments sporadically today… unless that fireball catches up with me. If that happens, all bets are off.