Monday, July 31, 2006

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

The title of that movie must have been written by someone traveling through that airport. Actually, since it came out in '98, it had to be better than after 9/11, because it has become a sheer horror to travel via airlines now. At least my trip to Cleveland had a saving grace: my WoF jackpot. My trip home did not.

My one goal going home was: DO NOT LOSE a boarding pass. And I didn't. Mission accomplished!

However, when I boarded the plane from Cleveland back to Las Vegas, I was seated in an aisle seat with two of the largest women I have ever seen. Now, I'm fluffy myself, so when I say large, I mean large. The lady in the middle seat had to ask for a seatbelt extension. She was also sitting in my seat. Yes, and so was I! Bless her heart, she was so nice, but having her butt and my butt sharing a seat isn't pleasant for over 4 hours.

Her right arm was also taking up the whole armrest. She had no choice in the matter given her anatomy, but I ended up with my head touching my right shoulder the entire flight, pillow behind my head and wrapped in a blue blanket, hanging over in the aisle.

To make matters worse, our flight attendant also had an ample behind and every time she passed, she smacked my head, so I was getting an ass kicking from both sides the whole flight! Seriously! Every time the lady in the middle seat would move I had to pry my thigh back out from under her!

So we finally land in Las Vegas and yes, I still have my boarding pass for my connecting flight back to California, and yes, it's still a 20 mile hike back to the other terminal and I have to go through security once again. The airport was jammed and all the lines were long so I picked line #9. It was about the same as any and it was the closest. Little did I know I was going straight into the twilight zone. After getting past the TSA agent with my boarding pass and government ID, we were pointed to a line and ended up in a glass hallway. And the line wasn't moving. Several of us were wondering WTF and when it did move, we couldn't see where it was going.

Well, it turns out that line #9 was very special. We had to go into a Trace Portal Machine. It is much bigger than the regular xray door you simply step though, and you have to keep your shoes on, unlike my previous trip where your shoes have to go into the dishpans. (Laptops still have to be taken out of their cases--more about that later.) When you enter the TPM, the TSA person is facing you on the other side and you have to stand with your feet on the huge painted footprints on the floor of this sucker. The TSA agent then informs you that you will feel "some air" for just a second. About then the walls and ceiling start blowing air all over your body like hundreds of people shooting you with air dusters! This can't be America! I swear I got kidnapped and taken to Area 51!

It turns out the Trace Portal Machine shoots your body with air so that any small particles of explosives can be blown off your body and clothing (and shoes) and the machine runs a test before you are allowed to proceed to your gate. Just another fun thing to do while you're in Las Vegas! This time what happens in Vegas won't stay in Vegas because I blabbed! Beware!

When I gathered my laptop and carry on tote, I realized that my water bottle had leaked during the entire flight from Cleveland, and my laptop case was soaked. It's funny, after everything else, by that point I wasn't even freaked that I might have fried my laptop. I just wanted the hell out of that place!

The terrorists have won. They have made air travel a living hell on earth. Them and the TSA and their TPMs and their flipping dishpans from hell.


Blogger Carri said...

LOL! You have my sympathy. I've had more than my fair share of miserable flights so I can relate. I once had a 13 hour flight with a toddler on my lap because I was too broke (and dumb)to splurge for the extra ticket. Plus I was assured that there'd be empty seats and not to waste the money. NOT. I would've found a way to pay for the extra ticket had I known how miserable it would be. Worst part was when I asked the flight attendant if we'd be landing soon, thinking it was a 9 hour flight. I got tears in my eyes when she said no, we still had 3 more hours to go. The 9 hour flight was actually the return trip, where the plane catches tail winds or something. I'm glad you had a good time and made it home safely.

8/1/06, 10:59 AM  
Blogger Carri said...

Oops, I obviously can't add. Above should've read that I had 4 hours of misery left.

8/1/06, 11:01 AM  
Blogger Ronni said...

Oh, Carri! I can relate! I did that more than once.

Not to mention going from Austin to London with a 12 and an 8 in the "economy" section, before they banned smoking, with a small child right behind who sang "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" all the way from St Louis to Heathrow!

8/1/06, 5:20 PM  
Blogger loretta said...

It's always an adventure seeing your own stomping grounds from the perspective of a visitor.

I have driven west on the turnpike countless times, and I never pay any attention to the farms, old barns, horses, out buildings or landscape. It's pretty boring to me!

8/2/06, 9:04 AM  

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