An oldie but goodie

From my pre-blogging days in 2009. I was surfing through my Facebook content and found this pearl.

The grumpy travel logs: The bizarro travel guide (what you’ll hate about travel), Vol 1.

by Pat Haney on Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 10:51pm

After a long hiatus, I’m back to travelling…A lot.

Not that I hate travelling, It’s the crummy places and people I meet that turn me into a hotel hermit, leaving only to feed and eager to hit friday’s flee time. (Like Tee time – Get it?)

Today’s installment has me on the way to LA. Usually when I come in this direction, I can hit the outskirts – John Wayne airport Orange county. Easy egress to where I gotta go.

But not today – it’s into the belly of the beast – LAX. I was astonished today to learn that it didn’t hit the top five busiest airports. Could have fooled me. It was ass and elbows all the way to the rental cars.


Until I became spoiled by elite status, I was one of the doofuses that apparently waited for his group to be called to board. They’d call first class and it seemed like a hundred people got on. Now I’m an “airplane-phile” so I know there aren’t maybe 20 people in first class. But today was special. The gate agent was having none of that – repelling the hordes as they tried to hustle onto the plane early.

We had another once a year disturbance on boarding as well and that’s why I give kudos to the people at American. This is the second time I’ve seen something like this (and usually I’m at the root of it even if inadvertently)

The first time I was on a flight and the airplane had 2×2 seating. Don’t remember the type, but in my row there were only two seats. So the plane is nearly boarded and the seat next to me is empty.

Don’t look at it. Don’t think about it. Don’t gloat. Don’t cause bad ju-ju that’ll make a 300lb IT dude appear from the standyby list.

So they seat a minor-travelling-alone next to yours truly. Uh-oh. I’m wondering if I can plug in the Bose before takeoff and drift away. the Kid is about five or six.

“Hey little dude, How-ya doing? Ready to fly, huh?” I say.

“I can’t see my mamma from here” he says

“Well, maybe if you look at that far window you might. She’s probably at the gate”


Oh shit, he’s cycling up. Wonder if I can get those earphones out.


In a flash – The stewardess appeared, and with blazing speed I was whisked to first class and they placed a motherly type next to the boy. I don’t think I’ve seen anything handled so deftly and to such advantage (For me) in my life.

So that leads to today’s incident. It started off bad enough as a momma bear was going into full pester mode with the gate agents over two tweenies travelling alone. Hoo-boyee! Hope they aren’t in my row.
Got the aisle seat – turns out yet again, the seat map wasn’t right for the primo exit aisle placement on the 757. My exit aisle wasn’t. Shit happens. There are exactly two seats in the row open – both middle. And the bad juju hits again. I get to thinking “This won’t be so bad if this seat stays empty”.

In comes the chubby princess with mama hovering and what appears to be the boyfriend/husband. They cluster right in front of me, the dude setting down his carry-on and pronouncing “no way” to finding a space. That’s when I notice – the chubby princess is crying. Can’t imagine what for. She starts moving towards the window seat as it’s occupant comes back from stowing his stuff. No way he’s giving up his seat. That’s when the ruckus and the sobbing starts in earnest. Mind you, every seat is full and the two rows here in question are full with pros who thought this was the exit aisle and aren’t budging. Not me that’s for sure. But they want to sit together. I don’t want to give up the aisle, and I sure don’t want a bawling chubby princess next to me. Neither, apparently, do any of the other men in the row.

So the steward and the head stewardess appear and take control – “Work it out right now, sit in the seats your assigned, or get off the plane”

WOW! This’ll be good. Took about 30 seconds for American to flat out give up – “Come on, your going to have to get off”

That’s when the dude in the other aisle seat took one for the team by taking the middle next to me. He shouldn’t have. Only the steward thanked him. Her Majesty sobbed well into after takeoff.

Had I a few drinks in me, I’d have stared good an long and asked them, matter of factually, what the hell was wrong with them. Another deft handling of an ugly situation by an American flight crew.

Am I too harsh?

They came way late- The last onto the plane. That tells me there are three possible reasons for this –

1. It’s likely they came late to the gate. Not the first to dawdle getting to DFW. Being unable to fix crummy seats is a direct result of that.

2. They got on standby- More likely. In which case, a little gratefulness is in order. Yeah, you didn’t get choice seats – but you got on, didn’t you?

3. Late connection, least likely. It’s an early flight. Also, those seats could have been worked out at where they started. Even so, it wouldn’t have been a surprise then would it?

I’m not buying the “they were assigned these by the heartless airline”. You can pick your seats these days. I do. Even then, not in ten years have I had more than once or twice we couldn’t work out seating with the kids. In the middle of writing this I recalled my error in seat selection, logged on, and fixed it in two seconds.

Maybe they got cheap tickets or purchased them late. In any event, prior to the scene they were told by the staff to take their seats first and work out shuffling after takeoff. That may have worked. It’s only a three hour flight.

Ah, flying with amateurs. Why don’t they realize it’s little better than a bus that flies? For all that misery, they still got halfway across the country in three hours. That’s a days long trip on a bus or the train. It’s the whole expectation of accommodation that riles me. Everyone else figured it out long in advance, and took the time to select the seats they wanted. An aisle is my preference. Others like the window. Me in the middle makes two people other than me miserable.

Next: Why you want to stay away from west Hollywood/Beverly hills. I’ll give you a teaser – I think this city is probably one of the major factors keeping the european auto business floating. There are an astonishing number of very expensive British, German, and Italian cars weaving in and around all the priuses here.