If you read this blog frequently, you’ll know that from time-to-time I share tales from the road. This last week I spent a couple of days in Boston (which was fine) and the trip out had nothing to complain about. But, the trip back, while successful, was full of hassles. So, channeling my best Festivus spirit, let’s commence with the Airing of Grievances:
- Boston Roadways – No doubt about it, The Big Dig helped Boston traffic flow a bit more sanely. However, for the infrequent driver, it’s not easy to find the right access point to be able to go places like, the friggin’ airport. Sometimes you need to get on I-93N to go south to gain access to 1A to go through the tunnel to gain airport access. This set of learning cost 45 minutes of time.
- Hertz – If you read this blog, you’ll know that Budget has been terminated from my travel menu with extreme prejudice as has Avis. So that leaves Hertz as the alternative. I love the #1 Gold Club which allows a weary traveler to hop off the bus, go to the place where your pre-reserved car is waiting, flash your license and contract at the gate and you’re on your way. What I don’t love is Hertz poor planning for rental car return. There were 200 people waiting for shuttle buses to the terminal when I returned my car. This was complicated when the driver of the bus I managed to snag broke the mirror off the bus which forced a return to base…This was further complicated by the bus driver picking people up at non-designated pickup points while the sardines called passengers were trying to get off the bus and catch airplanes. This farce cost another 45 minutes.
- Clear – Don’t get me wrong, I love the service, where it is available. Before departing on this trip I was delighted to see it available at Logan Airport. WRONG! It’s not available for United terminals. Clear, hot tip, don’t say you’re available at an airport where you’re not available. Fortunately, I had enough time that this was not a fatal error.
- TSA and Security Lines – Clear is supposed to remove this barrier, not having Clear makes one go back to regular airline status lines. Normally, this is an expedited line. Not at Logan, they had what appeared to be a developmentally disabled man working the ID line who would take about 50 seconds per passenger to read their entire ticket, license, stare at the passenger, ask 2 or 3 irrelevant questions, and then chat with his colleague. Suffice to say his cousin was manning the x-ray machine. This is all security theater anyway, it doesn’t make anyone a damn bit safer. Another 45 minutes shot to hell.
- United Baggage Check – I’m a carry-on guy, always have been, always will be. But, the $15 surcharge to check a bag has now caused everyone to be a carry-on person even when they can’t carry the stuff on. Here’s the problem: If you take it through security to the gate, they’ll check it there, no charge! So guess what happens?
- United Gate Agents – Every two minutes before boarding the gate agent would announce “This is a very full flight with 158 people, we only have space for 80 rollerboards – would you like to check your bags now or hold up boarding?” This had the effect of 157 people rushing the gate to form up before boarding even began. Since I travel light, I wasn’t concerned, but I had to act like a blitzing linebacker to get through the throng to board when it was time.
- Fellow Passengers – Apparently, since space was going to be an issue with baggage space, and since I wasn’t in the first part of my group to get on the plane, and because my seat was by the door, everyone decided it would be a good idea to place their bags above my seat. The row was empty when I got there, the overhead was full. So I crammed my stuff under the seat in front of me for 6 hours of discomfort. Next time, I will unload those bags and ask the flight attendants to find their owners. Use the space above YOUR SEAT.
- Fellow Passengers Redux – When you’re packed in with fellow travelers, there are a few simple rules to follow: the arm rest isn’t yours, it’s shared. If you can’t fit in a single seat, buy two. Showers and deodorant are really thoughtful gifts for fellow travelers. While garlic, onions, beans, and beer may seem like a good idea in the lounge, they are rarely appreciated by your seat mates given that these smells linger and are emitted in various ways during travel. Have a heart, eat bland and have a mint at hand at least…
OK, I’m done for now. Travel is getting to the point where it is no fun at all. It’s finally happened, I’ve become a grouchy old man. Oh well, it’s better than the alternative (being a dead man.)