Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Flight Aware

My first time on a normal passenger plane was in April of 2002.

It was my senior year of high school; the band was going to New York City. It had been seven months since 9/11 but as our crowd of 60-some boarded early in the morning in Sioux Falls, we didn't really have any trouble. It would be some time yet before liquids were limited in your carry-on, and years before anyone would even consider charging for a checked bag, much less a carry-on. I had a cell phone ... that didn't work when I got that far from home. I had a calling card so that I could call my mother on a pay phone from the top of the Empire State Building. While I certainly had Internet access by then, I didn't know anything about my flight or the plane I'd be on.

[There was a near-incident involving a foil-wrapped package of Pop-Tarts when we went through security, but it was mostly just hilarious.]

My, how things have changed.

Now, I find myself getting ready for the wedding in two and a half weeks. (Yikes.) Before even ordering my tickets, I could check out each and every expected plane to see what seat I wanted. I've got my quart-sized Ziploc ready with bottles no larger than 3 ounces each. I'm making sure everything that can be clearly labeled is. I'm incredibly thankful it's an overseas flight so that I don't end up with additional charges for any of my bags unless we bring back a pile of extra suitcases for Mia Sorella.

I have things planned appropriately. I've got my carry-on and personal item figured out so that if the checked bag Shorty and I share ends up stuck in Seattle for an extra day, I'll be okay. I've got a phone that not only works in a foreign country, but can hold every book I could possibly want to read en route. (And enough music to last the whole 28 hours I'll spend in the air.) I'll be packing more power cords for a week away than I even owned twelve years ago.

Some of this is my own overplanning. Some of it is just because I've been through enough of the difficulties (delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage, weird problems at security) that now I want to be ready for whatever comes my way. But most of it is a sign of the times, from more available technology and information to the strange desire to keep myself occupied every minute I'm in the air.

What was then a pack-your-life-in-a-bag-and-go experience has now become a lot more of a puzzle. After all, I don't want to deal with crazy fees. Or toss anything in the garbage because I left something dumb in my purse before trying to go through security. (Lost my favorite perfume that way once.) And any time I can pick my own seats, I will.

Travel in the 21st century. Now if I could just guarantee my own mini-TV at my seat I'd be totally satisfied.

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