"Don't they do these surgeries in Connecticut," my wife used to ask me. Well now she and I have accepted the fact that video shoots and conventions tend to happen everywhere but Connecticut.
Inevitably, this travel has everything to do with airports, airlines, middle seats, tray tables, lighted signs and placards and free cups of ice with a splash of soda! Here are some anecdotes that might help you should your job take you to the friendly skies:
Back in the pre-9/11 days, you would check-in at the counter and be asked two security questions: Did you pack your bags yourself? Have your bags been in your control the whole time?
These were kind of silly questions. Yes I packed my bags. No I did not maintain control of my bags while they were in the valet parking bus cargo hold. As it turned out on that fateful day, packing your own bags could in fact be a bad thing, depending upon what you put in them.
Today of course we are not asked who packed our bags. Rather, we take off our shoes and donate untold tons of multi-tools and nail clippers to the government. Hey, better to be safe that sorry. Anyway, depending upon the airport, this process can take anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour. They should have a line for people who have never been to an airport, and a line for folks who do it all the time. I actually take off my belt and deposit my phone and wallet in my laptop bag while I am still at the check-in counter. It is actually amusing to see other male and female travelers getting their kit back on just past the security checkpoint.
If you travel with video cameras, laptops or other difficult to identify electronic goods, prepare to easily place them into the plastic bins and wait while they are x-rayed multiple times. "Nice video camera" I hear almost every time. How shall I respond? "It does the job" usually...er..does the job. While the posted signs only tell you to remove video cameras an laptops, I tend to remove video decks, portable hard drives, and anything that looks like a radio frequency transmitter, such as a wireless mic radio frequency transmitter. Again, better to put everything out in the open than to raise suspicion and delay the line. Courtesy for your fellow travelers is a priority of frequent fliers. I have been known to advise elderly patrons to remove their metal wallet chains and oxygen tanks before entering the magnet!
Excess Baggage Fees
If you travel with more than a carry on, a personal item (another word for a 2nd carry on) and 1 checked wheely bag, you should be prepared to pay for it. Here is a typical conversation on most non-Southwest airlines:
Debbie: How many bags will you be checking sir?
Debbie: Just you traveling?
Debbie: I am going to have to charge you $175 extra. Is that ok?
Me: What choice do I have? It's cheaper than taking another person.
Debbie: How would you like to pay for that?
Me: Nickels and dimes.
Debbie: Is that a joke?
Me: Yes. Here's my credit card.
Debbie: Thank you. Now sign here, here, here, here, here and here.
Me: Here also?
Me: Here as well?
Me: Where else?
Me: Oh, I see. Here?
Me: Ok, thanks for your help. Have a pleasant day.
Back in the day airlines sometimes offered a media discount. The conversation would continue:
Me: Do you have a media discount?
Debbie: Are you in the media?
Debbie: Who do you work for? Fox News?
Me: No, a private company.
Debbie: Oh, do you have a business card?
Me: Here you go.
Debbie: Hmm, let me get my supervisor. David, can you come here please?
David: Media discount eh? Do you work for the news?
David: Well then I can't do this.
Me: I got the discount yesterday in Hartford.
David: Is that so? Well maybe you'd like to come back here and do my job for me.
Me: Great idea. I haven't earned minimum wage since high school.
David: Why you!
Seriously, there was some obscure secret code only accessible on green CRT mainframe computers. I had about a 50-50 chance of getting the discount, and usually only in one direction, which made my expense report look even less organized.
"What's in this heavy case?"
"Camera equipment," I reply.
"Ooh, do you film the Hills?"
"Yep, I'm going drinking with Spencer and Brody later. You wanna come?"
"OMG - I love those guys!"
"How about this large metal tube? What's in there?"
I am not making this up - before 9/11 I actually had pilots make that joke about my heavy stainless steel operating room tripod.
It's all business these days. Be nice, be honest and be patient.
Emmanuel Lewis and Scott Baio in unison: "Now that's what I call flying the friendly skies!"
Smiles all around, cue theme music.
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