My Monday adventure with planes, trains, and automobiles

Original caption: I decided to see if I could ...

Dominos falling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post has nothing to do with science or climate, but it does go to illustrate how life gets more complex each day thanks to increased bureaucracy, and that you should take nothing for granted in the world of air travel today.

It is also an apology to the chair and attendees, of the Family Forest Landowners and Management Conference where I had been invited to speak today at 2PM. For the first time in my life, due to circumstances outside of my control, I had to bow out of a speaking engagement at the very last minute. My sincerest apologies to all of you there.

Where I live, air travel isn’t always easy, particularly since I have to drive 90 miles to the nearest major airport, Sacramento, and then board from there, which I’ve pretty much gotten down to a science, or so I thought until yesterday.

I think you will all find the following story of the Murphy’s Law domino effect in action quite amusing, and in retrospect, it is really the only way one can look at it now.

It all started out well enough, I even thought I’d be arriving at the airport early.

The first domino was me misreading the flight time before leaving for the airport, though I didn’t know this until a critical moment later. I thought it was 3:25PM, but I read the wrong page, and that was the departure time of my connecting flight. But being a broadcaster, where missing a deadline to be on-air is a fate worse than death, I always make sure I meet deadlines, so I planned to arrive two hours early because I’d known that the Sacramento airport had recently undergone a major renovation, and there might be some changes that affect me. I was right about that, I just didn’t know how much.

Second domino – I arrived at 1:25 PM at the Sacramento airport and discovered that the Southwest airlines terminal had been moved from the familiar and easy to use terminal A to the new glass and stainless steel cathedral known as the NEW terminal “B”, with the old one (also easy to use) having been demolished. So I drove around and reentered the terminal loop to go to the new terminal. I was looking for parking at the new terminal, and I drove around the loop twice looking for daily parking. I could see the daily parking lot for terminal B, remarking to myself there were few cars in it, but couldn’t seem to find the entrance. I decided to drive into the uber expensive hourly lot, and ask the gate attendant…I had plenty of time…or so I thought. The gate attendant explained that there was no daily parking for new terminal B, as it hadn’t been completed yet. My options for parking were the terminal A parking garage (which I’ve used almost every time for 10 years) or the economy lot out in the next county with a half hour shuttle bus ride that stops at every stop even if no people are waiting to get on/off. I opted for the garage, even though I knew it would be a long walk between terminals, but hey, I was two hours early, I had plenty of time. I’d planned for hiccups like this.

The interior of the new Sacramento terminal "B" complete with Harvey the rabbit. Image from: public CEO.com

I discovered that the new terminal B was like a visit to the Robert Schuler’s Crystal Cathedral in LA. Glass, metal, multiple levels, lots of light…and digital signage everywhere. Only one problem with digital signage and bright light from a nearly all glass building – they don’t co-exist well, and viewing angles on LCD screens mean you have to go in front of them to read them clearly, no cheating by viewing obliquely from afar is allowed.

Gone are the days when I could park my vehicle in the parking garage, walk about 1oo yards, check in, walk 50 yards, go through security, then walk another 50 yards and be at the gate. No, that simplicity is gone forever with this new hallowed glass and steel place of bureaucratic worship. It’s a hike.

The third domino came when I walked up to the check in counter to check my bag. And the attendant admonished me to not speak to her, but use the LCD touchscreen because she was “only there to apply the luggage tag”. I thought to myself “and you’ll be a replaced by a robot soon I’ll bet”. Completing the task, the LCD screen flashed up a red angry warning LATE CHECK IN – NO BAG GUARANTEE. Puzzled, since I had “plenty of time” I dared to make conversation again with the attendant and ask why this happened. Looking at me like I’m sort sort of idiot she curtly replied “Well that’s what happens when you check in 10 minutes before the plane leaves”. It was then to my horror that I discovered I’d misread the wrong flight time, and indeed I had only ten minutes to board. So I said, “there’s no way I’ll be able to make this, let’s just look at other options”. Again she replied, “Well you need to try, THEN we’ll figure it out if you miss the flight.”.

So now I was on a  mission, thoughts of a leisurely coffee and late lunch turned to panic in an unfamiliar terminal I’d never been to before in my life.

The fourth domino (and a couple of minutes lost) came when I started looking for the security gate…it turns out there isn’t any in this new aviation cathedral, but you now have to board a train to get to security and from there, the gate. Sigh, it used to be so easy at this airport.

The new train at the Sacramento airport terminal B

So another two-minute wait for the train…and now I’m down to six minutes left. The train takes a minute, thankfully security was not busy and there were only two ahead of me….but you know how it is, you have to walk that back and forth rope maze thingy to get the 25 feet to the checkpoint.

I get through the driver’s license/ID checkpoint and get to the baggage scanners…and proceed to tear off my belt, my shoes, keys, watch, ring, etc and pack it into the tray for the x-ray machine, something else I’ve got down to a speed science. I got that done, shoved in the trays, and then I saw it, yet another metal and glass behemoth – the full body scanner. I’d never used one before, but I figured “OK this will be quick, they are designed for speed, right”?

Wrong – the fifth domino was my wallet, which I’ve never ever had to remove before in any scanner I’ve gone through. along with the usual assortment of credit cards, I keep an ultra-thin plastic USB drive. It seems the new full body scanner decided it didn’t like that, and on the display put a big red dot on my butt while somewhere I was imagining the  robot from Lost in Space flailing it’s arms arms and shouting “DANGER DANGER! WILL ROBINSON”.

So I figured “no biggie”, I put my wallet in a bowl and run it through the x-ray right and I’m done right? Well, no. you see it seems my ticket was flagged due to my lateness and checking a bag, which apparently is one of those “signatures” that bad guys like to use because they want to spend as little time in the terminal as possible to minimize the chance that somebody might “finger” them.

So I get the red carpet treatment reserved for those special cases. Full body pat down, full body magnetometer wand, full body sniffer patch rubdown looking for GSR and explosives residue. Then some questioning, inspection of my laptop, and then when it is decided I’m not a threat, I get unceremoniously ejected like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld where he yells NEXT!

So I look at my watch as I’m putting it back on and it’s a minute past boarding time now. I figured I’m toast, but hustle to the gate anyway. Naturally, gate B-18 is the furthest one away from security. And of course, the plane is gone.

I’m about to see the sixth domino fall.

So I ask (well, blather excitedly) the gate attendant “Wanda” about all this, harping a bit about security delays after she says to me “ I got the call from ticketing we waited as long as we could” I asked about alternate flights. It seems that the next two flights at 5:30PM and 6 something were tours of the western United States, going in the reverse direction I needed, down to Las Vegas, then to Salt Lake City, and then to Portland both arriving at Spokane after 11PM. I could get them on standby too. “Great, how about tomorrow?”. Well I could get there, but then I have an hour to gather bags and rental car, then drive almost another two hours from Spokane to Moscow Idaho where the forest conference was.

Déjà vu is a funny thing, right then I got a flashback about the last time I was flagged as a potential terrorist on a trip to Idaho, way back in 1985. US Marshalls were involved in that one. And this was before today’s heightened security theater.

I’ll share that story.

+++++

I had been demoing weather display equipment in Boise in the winter of 1985. In those days I lugged around an IBM-AT with a 16 color CRT monitor, and a separate broadcast quality Sony NTSC monitor in specially designed cases like musicians use for road trips. I was my own roadie lugging around over 100 pounds of computer equipment at a time when people lugging around such equipment was uncommon.

The IBM-AT personal computer, 8 mHz circa 1985 Image from: classic-computers.org.nz

I had been on the road for a week. Visiting Denver TV stations first, doing demos, I then flew up to Boise, where my system was damaged in transit. Rather than return home, I tried to rebuild in the field, using parts from a local ComputerLand store at exorbitant prices. 128K ram chips in stacked DIP packages in those days were hard to come by. They had a habit of failing due to the solder joints and vibration. So I spent the day repairing it, and then decided to postpone the demo until the next day, and sought a hotel room. As luck would have it the U.S Governors conference was in town, and there wasn’t a hotel room to be had. After hours of searching, I finally did locate one at a fleabag hotel downtown that gave far more meaning to the words “transient occupancy” that one usually thinks of when describing hotels.  The bed was one of those old one with a trench in the middle of the mattress and a wrought iron frame that looked like something my grandmother owned. The shower, ran hot and cold, mostly cold. I managed to get showered and shaved, but this was the middle of winter and I was chilled to the bone.

The next day I lugged the equipment over to the TV station and set it up. Gathered everyone, and started the demo. About 5 minutes in, the IBM-AT (8 mHz) crashed and gave me a BSOD. I rebooted, started over, same thing at the same point in the demo… I apparently still had some bad memory chip(s). So I asked for their indulgence of 30 minutes, tore the machine apart, reseated all the DIP memory on the motherboard and tried again. No dice. At this point, it was a lost cause. I had to abandon the demonstration.

Meanwhile, the Denver TV station I had called on a week earlier wanted a follow-up, so I had to fly back to Denver, lugging my dead equipment along. Another visit to a ComputerLand store first, more troubleshooting and parts replacement and it looked like I had it. So I went over to KUSA-TV and setup for the demo again…and did the demo, I got about 90% through and got another BSOD. I explained the equipment had been damaged in Boise, and what I’d been doing to repair it, but I could see they weren’t too trustful of the equipment. Remember then, computers weren’t widely accepted and broadcast TV equipment was single use discrete component design, all built like tanks. Tektronix and silver-solder and all that was the norm…because on-air failure during live TV was just intolerable. Nobody wanted a BSOD on-air.

I packed up and left, feeling miserable, and drove to the Denver Stapleton airport in my rental car. I was two hours early, I had “plenty of time”.

I dropped off the rental car and then had to wait a few more minutes for the larger of the shuttle buses that the attendant assured me had the room in the rear needed to accommodate my collection of three roadie cases plus luggage. No problem I said, I had “plenty of time”.

Imagine hauling three cases like this around

The van arrived, we loaded up and set off. In those days, the rental car areas were behind the hourly parking lots, and the van took some sort of twisted route through some side access for those, and ended up at automatic security gate where it let you out. There were about three cars ahead of us. When the car ahead of us made it to the gate. It stopped, and sat there, and sat there, and sat there some more. The shuttle bus driver honked. Nothing. So he got out to find out why this car was stopped. It turns out the driver in front of us had run out of gas. We couldn’t push the car with the shuttle bus due to bumper height mismatch, and we couldn’t push it by hand due to speed bumps and those reverse entry spikes and the driver didn’t want risk shredded tires.

Great. At least I had “plenty of time”. The shuttle bus driver calls for a tow truck on the radio. So we all sit around waiting, thinking this will just be a few minutes, a few minutes turns into a half hour, another call on the radio – “we’ll be there soon” comes the response. The half hour turns into 45 minutes, and I’m thinking up ways now that I can get my cases out (the biggest one has wheels) and push them the rest of the way to the terminal about 1000 yards away….but, before I can complete those thoughts, the tow truck finally arrives, and moves the car and we are on our way.

By this time I have about 30 minutes left before the flight, and I still have to check my beasts of baggage. The shuttle bus pulls up to the terminal, I flag a skycap, explain my situation and hand him $30. He said he’d handle it, and I had to go to the ticket counter to pay the usual excess baggage fees. So he tells me just leave them here, go to the ticket counter (visible through the glass) and he’d bring in my roadies cases to get it all settled.

So, of course there’s a line. And I wait, keeping an eye on my roadies cases through the big window, waiting for him to move it. My turn comes, but as I glance back, another skycap has the cases loaded on a cart and is headed down the sidewalk, away from the ticket counter. So I take off, flag him down, explain, and he says “well they were unattended”. I look around for the guy I originally tipped well, and he’s nowhere to be seen. I’m down to 20 minutes so I say to this skycap, pressing money into his palm while explaining, look please just bring it to the ticket counter for me?

So we hustle up to the ticket counter, wait again, I pay the fees, get my boarding pass and I’m off. I still have to get through security and to the gate. Security in those days was much simpler, but once again I got hung up at security because I had tools in my carry on bag…the tools I used to tear apart and rebuild the computer,  – I had forgotten to put back in the roadie case. It is the scourge of carrying computer equipment and tools and being late. So I explain, I show them my card and my brochures and why I’d be carrying computer tools. They pass me through, tools and all, since I obviously was not a threat, just some nerdy computer guy.

I’m down to ten minutes, and I recreated the famous O.J. Simpson TV commercial for Hertz where I’m dashing through the terminal to make my plane. And of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, the gate I need is the one furthest away from the security gates. It must be an unwritten corollary to Murphy’s Law that the later you are, the further away the gate is.

I get to the gate, and they are just starting to close the door, but they saw my breathless panting state, unable to say much but “sorry”, took my boarding pass, and let me on.

Walking down the ramp, I’m congratulating myself for pulling this off against the odds, and I can’t wait to get home and get my computer working right again. I board the plane the stewardess directs me to my seat, which of course is the one way in the back next to the restroom (a consequence of being late). As I walk down the aisle, I notice the strangest thing – something I’ve never seen before or since. About a third of the overhead baggage compartment doors are missing. At first I thought they were just “up”, but they had tape across them. “Bizarre” I thought to myself, what next? So settling into my seat, I pushed the attendant call button and inquired with the stewardess about the missing baggage doors. She explained calmly that “the original aircraft for this flight had a mechanical issue and this was the replacement aircraft” I said, “yeah, but wouldn’t you call these missing baggage doors a mechanical issue”? She assured me everything was fine, not to worry, that “the supervisor has approved the aircraft”.

So I sat there, thinking about the run of bad luck I’ve had in the past few days, and visions of some mechanic under pressure to deliver an aircraft gets the call in mid maintenance and hustles this one into service, just running a line down the “approved” boxes on the check-sheet and signing it in the rush because he doesn’t have a choice. I’m thinking to myself, “I’m about to fly on an incomplete aircraft”. Further visions of nuts missing those all important tie down wires to keep them from vibrating loose also went through my mind. I decided right then, I didn’t want to fly on this aircraft.

So I got up, grabbed my carry-on bag and headed for the front door. I explained to the stewardess there that I had no faith in the mechanical integrity of the aircraft, pointed to the doors, and headed up the ramp.

When I got to the gate desk, I explained, said “sorry” again like 25 times, and said to please just have my baggage held at the destination. They said to “wait here please,  we are working on this”. “OK “I said and sat down. I watch through the window as the plane gets pushed away from the gate by the ramp tractor, glad I’m not on it. They disconnect the tractor…and the plane just sits there not moving. I’m thinking “A-ha!” they’ve got some other aircraft trouble, and I was sure that thought was confirmed when a few minutes later they hitch up the ramp tractor and pull the plane back to the gate.

I asked the gate agent, “why are they bringing the plane back, does it have mechanical trouble?’. She replied, calmly “no, they are going to get your baggage off the plane”, and then repeated to me again “please wait here” with a bit of urgency in her voice. I said “no that’s not necessary, just have the baggage held at the baggage counter at the destination and I’ll pick it up when I get the next flight.”. And she repeated “please, just wait here and we will get this sorted out”.

So I’m standing there, puzzled, and it hit me. And just about the time I realized why they were getting my baggage off the plane two guys in suits appeared on either side of me and asked “Are you Mr. Watts?”. “Yes” I replied. “Come with us, we need to inspect your baggage”. I asked “who are you ?“…and they showed me badges and stated they were with the US Air Marshalls. Great I thought to myself, “they think I’m a bomber or something”.

So they walk either side of me and escort me downstairs, into some non-descript room, and I get the questions…”Why did you get off the plane?” “What is in those big cases” etc. etc. And I proceed to tell the story much as I’ve told you readers.

They weren’t satisfied. They wanted to inspect the roadie cases. And they were wheeled in and I was asked to produce the key to the padlocks on them. I dutifully handed the key over to the agent, and he unlocked the roadie cases and opened the lids.

“See”, I said, “just like I told you, computers and monitors” and I produced my card and brochure again.

“You need to prove it to us Mr. Watts”, one agent said. “We need to look inside the cases”.

I said “Well you are in luck, I just happen to have tools for that right here in my bag”.

Sir, open them up.”

So I spent the next 15 minutes taking the cases off the IBM-AT and, pulling out the hard drive (which in those days was a 10 pound beast by itself holding all of 20 megabytes), and opening the cases to the monitors.

Finally satisfied that my story was true and that I was not any sort of threat, an agent said “you are free to go, but think twice before you get off an airplane again after you’ve checked baggage”.

Again after saying “sorry” about 25 times and thanking them for not hauling me off to jail, I reassembled my equipment, repacked it, and headed off with the beasts of baggage stacked and rolling on the 4 casters on the biggest case towards the door.

At this point I’m pretty toasted, and all I wanted to do was just hibernate in a hotel somewhere and have a few stiff drinks.

I headed for the ground transportation area, got another rental car, and rolled the beasts of baggage out to the curb waiting for the shuttle bus. The shuttle pulled up, the driver opened the door, and said “you again?”. So I sheepishly loaded up and explained to him what happened. He was guffawing all the way to the rental lot. I got a new rental vehicle, jammed all the road cases into the trunk and back seat, and took off to find the nearest hotel. I remembered seeing a Holiday Inn on the way into the airport, so I headed there.

One might think this would be the end of the story, but no.

Once I got to the Holiday Inn, I parked in the covered entryway, and went up to the desk, waiting my turn because there were two people ahead of me. I go to the desk, asked if there were any rooms available, and she said “we are nearly full, but you are in luck, we have one left.” . “Great! I’ll take it.”.

As I’m filling out the form, I hear this awful rumble, getting louder and louder, and turn around to see a veritable horde of motorcycles coming into the parking lot. Lots of gnarly looking folks were riding them. Looking back at the desk clerk, she sensed my astonishment at this sight and said “that’s why we are almost booked”.

I said, “Thanks, but after the week I’ve had, I’ve changed my mind.”.

So I drove to the next available hotel, asked if they expected any hordes of motorcyclists (they didn’t) proceeded to order room service (and several stiff drinks) and stayed there for two whole days, doing nothing but not worrying about anything with no plans to go anywhere. The computer remained packed.

++++++

So yesterday, recounting in flashback my previous troubles that originated in Idaho with computer equipment, live presentations, and air travel, and presented with what were ugly and untenable travel options, I decided that there are times one just has to know when to walk away from air travel, and I did.

Again, my apologies to the Family Forest Landowners and Management Conference.

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125 thoughts on “My Monday adventure with planes, trains, and automobiles

  1. This is why I hate to travel.

    I have, however, discovered that its terribly difficult to get anywhere if you don’t–Oslo won’t come to me.

    I haven’t had to go to the airport since the new terminal opened, but it looks lovely. Too bad your experience with it sucked so seriously badly. :)

  2. Paying me all the money in the world I would not want to live (or go on vacation) in the USA . Land of the slaved.And I know Europe is not much better and getting worse.

  3. ROTFL!
    What a pair of stories. I have a suspicion these might bounce around the blogosphere with some interesting results. We’ll see. Anthony “Terrorist” Watts … wonderful! What a chortle.

    You’re right about travel. When the universe stacks the dice you have to draw a line somewhere and back out.

  4. Given “Grope “N Fly” I will never ever get on a plane again. It’s a shame because I used to love flying.

  5. I will do just about anything not to fly commercial and then there are only a small number of carriers I am willing to travel with. I once missed a flight from Edmonton to the UK. That was in the old days when you were treated like a customer. I made my meeting but very much sleep deprived.

  6. OT but Peter Gleick is speaking at Oxford University on April 24, 2012.

    http://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/events/peter-gleick-oxford-amnesty-lectures

    The bio in the above web page is misleading it states:-
    DR PETER H. GLEICK is president of the Pacific Institute, a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, a MacArthur Fellow, and an early contributor to the international discussion around the human right to water. Among his other honors, in 2011 he was awarded the Ven Te Chow Prize from the International Water Resources Association and the first United States Water Prize. In addition to his many peer-reviewed journal articles and other publications, he is the author or editor of ten books, including the series The World’s Water (Island Press), Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water (Island Press 2010), and the upcoming book A Twenty-first Century U.S. Water Policy (Oxford University Press 2012).

    Thee is no mention of the fact he is on leave from the Pacific Institute….

    If you wish to correct them.

    http://www.oxford-amnesty-lectures.org/index.php?p=Contact

  7. Yup my local airport was once similarly efficient. Then it got ‘upgraded’ such that parking became puzzling and now needs to involve buses, baffling bridges, walkways, and lots of glass.

    Of course – the economy of various developer friends of local politicians was stimulated no end.

  8. I’d like to visit the USA again – I used to love traveling around the country.

    But I’d have to drive to Paris and attend an interview for a visa.

    And I really don’t like being groped.

  9. During WWII the US military essentially operated an airline to get officers to destinations all aournd the world. It was called The Air Transport Command (wiki here ). My father told me a sign often posted in their facilities was “It takes time and patience to travel by air”.

    Some things never change.

  10. Per my note above about Gleick speaking at the prestigious Oxford University

    If you wish to leave Oxford University a note then I’d suggest the following::

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Please be aware that Peter Gleick is on leave from the Pacific Institute. You need to correct your bio for his upcoming speech on April 24th, 2012

    http://www.pacinst.org/press_center/press_releases/statement.html

    http://fakegate.org/peter-gleicks-phishing-emails/

    http://fakegate.org/gleicks-confession/

    Here is the contact email:

    http://www.oxford-amnesty-lectures.org/index.php?p=Contact

  11. And you think you have problems? Why is it impossible to unplug earphones from a phone, carefully wind them up, put them in a safe pocket, yet when they are next taken out they are in a tangled bunch of knots that takes ages and much mental torment to sort out?

  12. That reminds me of the last time my wife and I were on a trip and had to go through security four times, to no avail, for which reason I will never travel again on an airplane or on a cruise ship.
    You see, as I discovered about six weeks after we returned home, I had been carrying a six-inch, razor-sharp kitchen knife in my carry-on computer bag. They had me take out the lap-top, and they put the computer bag every time through the x-ray scanner, plus had me take off my belt, my runners and even my baseball cap (that little metal button on top caused a problem), but they never once discovered that six-inch knife about which I had not even thought until long after we got back.

    Well, if they can’t keep me safe from myself, four times in a row on one trip, what are the chances of all of those security checks keeping me safe from anyone else? No more security checks for me. I have had it.

  13. Somehow, global warming is responsible for this …. you just have to find it in the data….

  14. I’m with Benjamin Franklin on this one: “Those who would give up essential freedoms for security, deserve neither freedom nor security.”

    It really saddens me that our once-great country is slowly sliding into regulatory hell in the name of perceived security. Or the belief in a possible future that may have problems caused by global warming. Never mind the advantages of longer growing seasons, less heating oil use, and lower cold related fatalities if it turns out there is such a thing as AGW.

  15. This is why I don’t fly anymore. Also consider some simple facts:
    About 30,000 people die each year in America by suicide. Terrorists have killed 3000 in the last ten years, mostly on 911. That averages out to 300 per year. So you are 100 times more likely to be killed by … yourself than by a terrorist. Car accidents claim about 40,000 lives per year so you are much more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than by a terrorist attack on the plane. And despite highly invasive searches of millions of Americans each year ( without a warrant I might add) the TSA hasn’t caught 1 terrorist. Maybe catching terrorists isn’t really the objective.

  16. I once took 2.5 hours to travel two stops by rail (6 miles total distance) and there was nothing wrong with the trains or the timetable. Just complete incompetence on my part for a journey I had done most days for over a year.

  17. Sounds like teleconference did not happen either. Was that not an option in this age of not needing a 5.25 floppy with DOS just to boot up? Though any presentations might not of been feasible, necessary improvisation is valuable life-experience.

    REPLY:
    Best Western Hotel in Moscow, Idaho – do the math – Anthony

  18. But what happened to the plane you left? Did it crash after wards? I often hear from people that they back off from flights mostly due to a bad feeling but they never follow up what happened to the flight they avoided.
    You probably did the right thing and more people should have left the plane, just to show the airline to use proper equipment.

    AFAIK: it made it to destination without incident – Anthony

  19. http://www.sacramentopress.com/headline/53186/Sacramento_airports_Terminal_B_complex_to_open_early

    “The 56-foot-long, 10,000-pound aluminum rabbit conceived by Denver artist Lawrence Argent is the centerpiece of the $1 billion terminal.”
    “They liked the idea that it wasn’t a typical perspective of what people saw Sacramento as,” said Shelly Willis, the commission’s public-art director.
    The $6 million budget for the rabbit and the terminal’s other artwork came from the overall construction budget,…
    The $800,000 sculpture, titled “Leap,” ….

    They liked the artwork because it has nothing to do with Sacramento? Californians are strange people.

  20. I’m surprised that will all that Heartland and BIG Oil money you just don’t fly private. You know, charter a nice G450 or Global Express. /sarc

  21. The question that we all want to know is, Did our beloved (and missed) John Candy turned up at your house that evening?

    The other thing is Wow.

  22. So uh… why does Sacramento terminal “B” have what appears to be a rubber chicken hanging from the ceiling?

  23. Listen! if you’re gonna grope me you’ll have to find and put the same effort into finding something silly to wear, the same way my local medical professionals do.

  24. Barring similar troubles, this is a reminder that Lord Monckton will be at the Sacramento Capitol Building on Wednesday afternoon for an informational hearing and then will be at Sac State for an evening presentation. Both open to the public.

  25. Anthony,
    The next time you have an invitation to give a speech, request a private jet charter. It works for Al Gore.

  26. Give me a jeep, a nearby river, a rod and reel with a fresh worm on the end, and I’m good. And if’n it’s the first fish of the season, I always quaff a beer to give thanks to the fish for biten my hook. Now that’s what I call traveling.

  27. I’m a commercial pilot and you can’t pay me to fly in the USA. We have an old saying, “time to spare, go by air.”

  28. The Nazis didn’t lose WW2, the Germans did. They just came to America. Now they spend unimaginable effort harassing innocent Americans while never researching building 7, Kurt Haskell’s eyewitness account of the underwear bomber, and countless other operations.

    I would risk the chance on a plane than continue to go through this absurd operation.

  29. After reading this disturbing account of the mistreatment of Rodies, I will be opening a support center in aide of the mistreatment of rodies fund.

  30. So let’s talk about the purpose of the 4TH Amendment.

    It’s the one most in danger these days.

  31. Robertvdl says:
    March 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm
    Paying me all the money in the world I would not want to live (or go on vacation) in the USA . Land of the slaved.And I know Europe is not much better and getting worse.

    done gradually, the frog does not realize it is being boiled, liberty is no different..

  32. I’m pretty much of the notion that if anybody says “You have to fly to….” I say explain to me why I have to go to…..”

    I think the next time I fly commercial, I’ll be going as freight.

  33. Anthony, there is a way around your flying hassles. Buy your own plane. All the Libs have one, and I think you deserve one also. You could probably pickup a second hand one cheap in CA. :)

  34. Robertvdl says:
    “Paying me all the money in the world I would not want to live (or go on vacation) in the USA .”

    Hopefully we will find a way recover from the devastating news that you will not be visiting us or moving here. Thanks for breaking it to us gently.

  35. “It must be unwritten corollary to Murphy’s Law that the later you are, the further away the gate is.”

    Reminds me of a contest many, many years ago, I think by Scientific American. It was seeking new, original versions of Murphy’s type Laws. The winner was one who “discovered” Johnson ‘s Law which simply stated “everything takes twice as long as it should, even when considering Johnson’s Law”. Another favorite was The Universal Law of Dust which says that “light dust only falls on dark objects and dark dust only falls on light objects”.

    It might be some fun to run a similar contest at WUWT soliciting original entries of “Laws”. Perhaps the winner would get a guided tour of Sacramento’s new Terminal B, no expenses paid.

  36. Pamela Gray RE: Fishing

    Quite a fue people have said, “If fish had feelings, I would stop fishing,” my immediate thought was Oh No!! what about the worms?
    Then I thought, Heh, F*** it I don’t eat worms, lets catch some fish.

  37. Gail Combs says:
    March 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Given “Grope “N Fly” I will never ever get on a plane again. It’s a shame because I used to love flying.
    ==============================================================

    The last time I really enjoyed flying was in the back seat of a USMC F-4 Phantom at 1100mph. :) Now, THAT’S flying!

  38. OK Anthony, you started it…(I’ll keep it short)

    During my last years with U S WEST/QWEST I taught engineering and other technical courses along with several others. We travelled a bunch teaching all over the western United States. After 9-11 though it became a real chore because, like you we carried books, computers and a bunch of teacher junk with us. Sea/Tac Airport was a special pain for all of us. The security there seemed – overzelous – somehow and several of us were searched multiple times on several trips there.

    Pat was a great teacher, but a bit of an old hippie with long hair and a beard. He always looked, um, wrinkled somehow. Pat got stopped and was asked to open his briefcase. Right on top was a VHS cassette labeled “THE NON-THERMAL THREAT”. The security guard took one look at that and hit the alarm button.
    “What’s this? he asked in a very mild tone.
    Pat reverted to hippiedom in the face of a challenge from authority.
    “It’s a VHS cassette tape” he said.
    “What’s it about? the uniform asked.
    “The Non-thermal threat” Pat replied, as if the guy couldn’t read.
    Holding in his urge to strangle this individual, the guard said “What does that mean?”
    “It shows how a telephone central office can be ruined with just a little smoke.” Pat said proudly.
    Cutting to the chase, we all missed our planes trying to keep Pat from being shot right there. They almost threw all of us in the slammer. Imagine trying to explain that to the boss. Somehow though, it almost makes up for all the times I was frisked going through that Godforsaken airport.

    Mike Bentley

    I miss Pat, it was always different!

  39. don’t even get me started, regularly make top tier on at least 1 airline a year and been doing the “airport dance” for long enough to remember when they were stewardesses. Lived through SFO being “reasonable” and SJC just perfect for daily commuting to LA (as long as the EST folks weren’t on the same flight) to a nightmare with LTP being in the next county – so far SMF (aside from price) has been “ok” but then I haven’t had the joy of the new terminal – and just to put the waste of time in perspective, if the job is between Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix or Sandy Egos and its not just a quick day trip with nothing besides the laptop – I drive – it has taken days sometimes to cross the continent (somehow almost never on the way out – just trying to get back home for the weekend)

  40. Gee, I thought my wife and I had a rough time when it took 5 days to get out of San Francisco last week because delays out of that airport meant we would miss the only connecting flight to our destination… or pay $1000 each for new tickets on a different airline. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, re-book for Wednesday and have same delay, re-book for Thursday and have same delay, no seats available on Friday, finally get out on Saturday.

    Of course, once we did leave on time from San Francisco, our connecting flight was late by 90 minutes and that kept my brother at the airport until 1:30 am to pick up up. Oh, and that upgrade I paid to get extra legroom turned out to be worthless because there is no extra legroom at the bulkhead.

    Then I get an online satisfaction survey from the airline….

    I’m certain you would have laughed it off.

  41. Someday, should you ever have a thirteen-year-old son during a period of time when you are traveling frequently by plane, and your son reads some book that describes how someone had a jolly good time by cutting a piece of aluminum foil into the shape of a gun and placing it inside of a book that someone else would be carrying in their carry-on luggage on their next trip, and your son has a well-developed appreciation for humor but only a slight grasp of the idea of consequences – well, if that day should ever arrive, you’ll understand why I now make a concerted effort to arrive at airports at least four hours early, and why I always – always – get groped.

    (I had always hoped that I would continue to enjoy a reliable and regular sex life well into my fifties, but I never considered that the TSA would play such a central role.)

  42. OK, OK, gotta go for two – but this is the last one, really!

    My bride of 39 years is a special lady, one who thinks the best of everyone and fails to notice the filth of the world. This is a story about an Alaskan Cruise from Victoria BC.

    The trip to Victoria was great. The TSA folks were nice, only searching me twice. Still, my wife chided me that I walked through the airport with a chip on my shoulder. (I just wanted to get from A to B in a reasonable time…)

    Victoria was wonderful, and getting on the ship was well-handled. The cruise was great as well.

    Back to the real world, we got off the ship and went to the airport.

    We checked in and started for the security area and the gates. I noticed an “airport worker” in a suit looking at me, and coming to walk with us. We struck up and conversation about nothing really. Where were we off to, how was the cruise, etc and etc. We chatted all the way to security where the gentleman left us. The check through security took only a few moments. We had plenty of time to get to the gate so I walked to the supervisor’s desk and told them I liked their system of security.

    My wife told the supervisor how impressed she was with the friendliness of the BC airport people to chat with the passengers hurrying through and make them feel at home.

    I caught the supervisor’s smile.

    It was only after we were on the plane and in the air that I told my bride that we had been thoroughly inspected by that gentleman with heat on our way to the gate.

    Nice job up north! Nice job!

    Mike

  43. Virtually EVERY flight I take involves going to an outer, way far away terminal. And it’s always a rush to change terminals to make a connection to another far, far away terminal.

    So my question is:
    “What in heck are they doing with all of the near, easy to reach terminals? Is anybody there? Are they saving them for some reason? OR are there any near terminals at all and they sold them for scrap years ago ??????

  44. Sheesh… And all the while I’m thinking travel trouble is having to catch the horse first…

  45. Just had to add my tale of adventurous travel.

    In early 1953, I was a young US Army officer doing radiological safety work at the Nevada Test Site for a series of 12 nuclear weapons tests. Toward the end of the series, a Major Cooke asked if I would like to go next to Eniwetok Atoll in the South Pacific for an upcoming series of fusion weapon tests. Envisioning warm waters with time for snorkeling, etc., I immediately said “sure!” Big mistake.

    Orders soon came to go to Travis AFB east of the SF bay area, there to fly to Tokyo, Japan and await further orders. “Aha”, I thought. A circuitous route for security reasons. After about 12 hours of listening to the un-synchronized propellers of the DC-4, a brief stop in Hawaii for gas and another at Guam, we landed at Haneda airport in Tokyo and found our duffels soaked in hydraulic oil. “Barely made it,” said the pilots.

    After a few days in Tokyo, orders came to proceed to Sasebo at the southern tip of Japan and board a transport ship for Pusan, Korea and from there go by rail to Seoul. I was beginning to think unkind thoughts about Major Cooke.

    Arriving in Seoul, I reported in to 8th Army HQ. After wandering around there for a couple of days, I was told to find a driver and go up to a forward unit near Chunchon, Korea. Chunchon was within 50 miles of the then-front lines. I told the officer sending me there that I was happy to go anywhere they wished but he should be aware that I had a Top Secret – Restricted Data clearance prohibiting me from going to that location. “No problem,” said the officer, “we have revoked the clearance.” So that trip ended with a bumpy Jeep ride.

    About that time the so-called “armistice” was signed with North Korea and about the only action happening was trying to keep the South from starting the war up again. At one point, I managed to get through the switchboards to Major Cooke. “What happened?” “Well, we had Eniwetok all set, when a crash requisition came from 8th Army for your Military Occupation Specialty (MOS). Nothing we could do.” I was never able to track down the “crash requisition.”

    Fast forward to the eventual trip home. I was given a choice: fly home, with the caveat that I would have to supervise a DC-4 filled with Korean orphans or, proceed by troop ship to San Francisco. Sorry as I was for the orphans, I couldn’t resist the thought of an ocean voyage.

    Arriving at the debarkation port, there was no ship, only a LST (landing ship, tank). Turned out that the Yellow Sea is so shallow, the ship was over the horizon to us and the LST had to bridge the gap. After about 13 days, with the only entertainment being the ship’s public address system regularly announcing “Advance all clocks one hour,” we enjoyed the rough seas and unbalanced propeller shaft almost to the Aleutians and finally went under the Golden Gate. This magnificent vessel was the USNS General E. T. Collins and can be seen here:

    And, I carried my personal sidearm the whole trip, beginning to end, without ever being challenged.

  46. Dang incompetents. These days they’re worried about planes being taken down by the amount of plastic explosives you could fit inside the soles of shoes, or underwear. I remember how big those old AT hard drives were, with lots of space under cast metal covers that could have yielded lots of shrapnel. They should have demanded you open them up to prove they were safe!

    (As opposed to these days, when just about all portable electronics have rechargeable lithium ion batteries that could be easily rigged to explode, that normally have built-in electronics to keep them from having “thermal events” and possibly exploding, no “conventional” explosives required. Ah, progress.)

  47. That last one was about if, you made it through the groupies at least you tried.
    This one is about unfortunate circumstances, and how to deal with it. metaphorically speaking!

  48. Thanx for all the excellent air travel experiences reported in this thread!

    I recall a certain Mick Jagger interview from the 1990’s. Jagger tactfully said, “American air travel is an A. All the rest are a B.” [Don't quote me exactly, it's from a 63 year old's memory.]

    Those were the good old days, pre-9/11/2001. Muslim bastids! They screwed it up for everyone.

  49. Been flying somewhere every 1 to 3 weeks for 18 years. Surprisingly, I have had very few issues over the years, usually just getting stuck somewhere overnight because of weather, but even that hasn’t happened for over 6 years. Guess I’m just lucky, though there is a little skill knowing what airports to fly through at what times of day during what seasons. For example, avoid flying through Dallas in the late afternoon/early evening in summer at all costs. Avoid Denver like the plague in winter. And never fly through Newark on general principle.

  50. My utmost sympathies. Not only did they screw up what was once one of the easiest AP to get into and out of (I used it for my private A/C over the old Exec Field in So. Sacto), but you had to go to what is probably one of the more difficult Univ. locations to fly-drive to in the western US. I saw the Announcement for this meeting and wondered who would pick Moscow in March for a meeting? Not exactly balmy and poolside weather there this time of year.

    Another complexity is that if you have a laptop, iPhone, and iPad and live/work in different time zones, did you know that you need to set each device to the right time zone or the appointments (often synced by some type of cloud service) may not appear correctly from device to device?

  51. Since the advent of TSA, this kid no longer using airlines. Folks need to send the airlines a message “don’t fly” after all, the airlines are too cheap to provide their own security. As it stands, we lose all dignity to board a cattle drive at our expense.

  52. Anthony,

    Suggest you get a smart phone and use a flight app that keeps you informed on flights details, travel alerts, etc. I have also misread flight details as well as unawares of flight changes, delays, etc. A travel app can be like having your own PA keeping you on track for flights, rentals, public transport, hotels, etc. Haven’t missed a flight or travel mishap since have one of these smart phone apps.

  53. Back in the 80’s I broke down in Reno Nv.i called company ops. ( This being an aircharter
    service that I worked for.) They sent the only female pilot in the company to rescue me
    in the Bellanca Viking( Her plane that she leased to the.company. Well she gets to Reno
    and the Bellanca blows a cylnder, so now we have two broke planes.So we decide to
    take the Airline (western) back to Pasco Wa. where we were based. We go though security.
    We have no luggage except for out flight bags and my liitle overnighter, we get on blast off to Seattle(I dislike Sea-Tac too.)transfer to a commuter (Cascade) and end up tired and hungry
    at Pasco. as we go into the office, she sets her flight bag on the counter.She opened it
    and gapsed, here was her .357mag. and her Big Knife, she used as a crash tool..
    (Yes she cut her way out once in a crash landing.) We’d still be in McNiel Island if we got caught..
    to this day I’ve no confidence in Airport Security…

  54. Anthony,

    Probably a good thing you didn’t come in to Moscow, ID today. We had low cloud cover this morning and I had to drive my brother to the airport at 8am in Spokane due to his flight out of Pullman being canceled. And this evening I drove home over some very treacherous roads of slushy snow and low visibility. Rather fun to learn you would have been in my town, though! I’ve been a daily reader of your blog for several years now. And its provided me good ammo in discussions with others in this rather liberal and intellectual community.

    As a resident of Moscow for 16 years (since I was 12), I will point out Moscow has pretty good telecommunications – for a while the U of Idaho was the most wired campus in the West. And there’s more free wifi hotspots here than in most cities I’ve been to. But the Best Western is rather antiquated unfortunately.

    Hope you’re able to make it here some other time – it would be a pleasure to meet you.

    Joshua Nieuwsma

  55. Oh yes … ‘done did’ the OJ once through DFW A/P many years back ago due to … well, not getting there with more than 5 minutes to spare; ended up hand-carrying the luggage through to the boarding ramp from the check-in desk … those were the days …

    Speaking of OJ; here’s the Hertz ‘terminal run’ that’ s always being referenced:

    Sorry to hear of your account today Anthony … I kinda did a misread (or overslept?) on a departure for a flight leaving Vancouver airport one morning in about 2007; between the unfamiliarity with the roads (!!!!) getting to the A/P and the usual security delays _I could not_ make the flight on time … but the following flight had that one seat in the rear (isle seat near the lavatory) still available for my late -er- posterior … sympathies all the way ’round.

    Then there was the time two of us, me and Larry McKellop were assigned by Dick Gilley, VP of Engineering at MetroCel Cellular to hand carry a couple of Emmitt Smith (of Dallas Cowboys fame) autographed footballs up to Wichita Falls Texas aboard an Ameircan Eagle flight from DFW so we could represent the engineering dept’s effort in getting the WF TX MSA cellular market kicked off and operational at the grand opening of our newest sales office there in WF … Larry was having a great time ‘breaking the ice’ with any woman in sight with his official Emmitt Smith autographed football (which were meant to be raffle/door prizes for the WF Grand Opening event) in one of the lounges at DFW A/P while we waited for our departing flight …

    .

  56. Tom in Florida says:
    March 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm
    “It might be some fun to run a similar contest at WUWT soliciting original entries of “Laws”. Perhaps the winner would get a guided tour of Sacramento’s new Terminal B, no expenses paid.”

    Hansen’s Law: The past is always cooling.

  57. Philly to Kabul, with connections at LaGuardia (don’t ask), Dulles, Heathrow, and Dubai. Three hours between connecting flights, carry-on bag only — *plenty* of time.

    The fun started with a cranky trim actuator in Philly and went downhill from there…

  58. bobby b says: “Someday, should you ever have a thirteen-year-old son…and your son reads some book that describes how someone had a jolly good time by cutting a piece of aluminum foil into the shape of a gun…”

    LOL!! Someday, through the miracle of cryogenics, we’ll be able to put children into cold storage when they’re 12 and thaw them out only once they’re safely adults and no longer find such silly behaviour as excruciatingly funny as I just did.

  59. Anthony, that was quite the yarn to share! I just bought you a drink….you bring back many “wonderful” memories of my own, as I toured the great wastewater treatment plant systems of the USA back in those days!! Lemoore, CA….Sapulpa, OK….Redwood Falls, MN….all upstanding communities with a bit of a dark, dangerous edge!

    Your story about the bikers is priceless!! Somewhere, I’ve stayed in the same place….oh yeah, Hojo Inn, Fairburn, Georgia!

    Fellow readers, please whack the “Donate” button for our fearless leader!!

  60. It ought to be plain how little we gain,
    By getting excited or vexed.
    For we’re always too late for the previous plane,
    And always in time for the next.

    (Paraphrased from Piet Hein)

  61. my family won’t even transit the US til the TSA are removed, permanently.

    btw…

    21 March: Indian Express: Govt asks airlines to fly out of EU carbon scheme
    The government has asked all domestic airlines not to be part of the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), a decision that the inter-governmental body imposed on airlines entering European airspace.
    “We have asked airlines not to be part of ETS and any correspondence on this will be routed through the civil aviation ministry,” an official with the direct knowledge of the matter told The Indian Express…

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-asks-airlines-to-fly-out-of-eu-carbon-scheme/926195/

    CAGW advocate/player Reuters says it’s a “spat”:

    20 March: Reuters: COLUMN-Airline CO2 friction is hint of new climate politics-Gerard Wynn
    Threats of retaliation by China and India against a European Union plan to charge airlines for their carbon emissions is misplaced, given their weak legal case and a drift towards more such unilateral climate action…
    The air is also thick with talk of trade war, a posturing out of proportion to the impact of the EU scheme on flight ticket prices or airline profits…
    The spat hinges on the EU’s legal case for taking unilateral action, and the technical detail of counting emissions beyond its airspace…
    That includes emissions from the entire flights of non-EU carriers landing in or departing from Europe…
    ***The EU says it must include all emissions on a flight because it’s impractical to measure those only from the moment a plane enters European airspace. And that would also dilute the environmental purpose of the scheme since a large part of emissions are on take-off…
    The bloc of countries most wedded to a multilateral approach at the United Nations, the European Union, now feels compelled to use unilateral action.
    The present spat could be a sign of things to come in climate politics, where progressive countries unite from the bottom up, at least until an over-arching treaty comes into force at the end of the decade.
    (Reporting by Gerard Wynn; editing by Jason Neely)

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/20/climate-aviation-idUSL6E8EK26E20120320

    Reuters: About Gerard Wynn:
    “Based in London, for four years I have helped coordinate Reuters global coverage of green business and environmental markets. I focus on policies and investment related to renewable energy, carbon markets, energy efficiency and emerging clean technologies including electric cars. I also cover UN climate negotiations, biodiversity, land use and climate science. Previously I covered distressed M&A and credit markets on the corporate finance desk.”

  62. My condolences on your adventure!

    Last time I flew anywhere was to the Heartland conference in Chicago. I got up with “plenty of time” too… then a series of things “went off”. Including that I didn’t get something into the bin right at the security scanner (after the guy ahead of me too way too long), then got to do 2 or three times around to get all the other bits searched. By the time I got to the gate it was down to the last few minutes.

    The clerk set my carry on a bit sideways on the “gauge” and pronounced it a ‘must check’ bag with a $25 fee. I protested that I’d taken it carry on many times. A couple of minutes of “sorry sir, no way” and I stuffed it into the gauge (without any trouble). VERY Reluctantly, they agreed it could be a carry on. Then Oh So Slowly checked on the fight status and I heard them say “no, go ahead and close the door”. I was then informed I had missed the flight, but could re-ticket for 30 minutes later… Which nicked me for a $50 ‘re-ticketing fee’.

    Needless to say, I’m not keen on airlines…

    I now drive to anywhere less than about 2000 miles away, and think about it for anywhere in the country.

    On one occasion, I did a San Francisco to Denver run (while several crates of equipment was being trucked). I had configured the NetApps and loaded data onto the equipment. As that process was a bit non-determinant, I couldn’t do “Ticket ahead of time”. I also had to do the installation. ( FDA “Qualified Install” so NO variation from process allowed…)

    What with the tool bags et. al., the most reasonable thing to do was drive. I beat the trucks to Denver by a day, checked into the Hotel, and was ready the next day. The install went fine. Three days later, all was approved, signed off, done. Again a “non-deterministic” process. I was able to leave a day or two ahead of the tech who flew in (and had a non-refundable non-reticketable non-usable non-pleasant ticket ;-)

    So we had a nice Prime Rib dinner, and I said “Bye!”, got in the Mercedes and realized it was snowing in the mountains… Instead of “straight back” with chains, I decided to go south.

    In less than 24 hours, I’d rounded down through New Mexico, Phoenix, LA, and was home.

    All while listening to MY tunes. Packing my tools, and doing anything else I wanted along the way.

    Since that trip: if it’s closer to the West Coast than Chicago, I’m driving. Heck, I’ve even done the drive to Florida a half dozen times. (50 hours drive time plus a couple of hotel stops if desired. Fastest elapsed time I’ve done is 56 hours, with one hotel stop and 2 drivers).

    For a minimal flight, it has a 2 hours arrive ahead, and hour of parking and “aw shit” allowance, it takes an hour in the air (shortest), an hour baggage and car rental at the other end, and at least an hour to get from the airport to anywhere useful. All told, that’s 6 hours. Add in any inconvenient traffic, any checked baggage “issues”, and any allowance for an ‘inconvenient scheduled flight times’ and it can blow out to 9 or 10 hours “right quick”. (So, for example, an 8 am in L.A. likely means leaving by 8 pm the prior day to avoid the ‘no take offs dead of night’).

    Basically, I can hit anywhere from L.A. to Riverside in about 6 1/2 hours. (From San Francisco south bay area).

    So it makes ZERO sense for me to fly to anywhere in Oregon, Nevada, or California.

    I can hit Phoenix in 11 to 12 hours. So it’s marginal to fly to Arizona or Washington State…

    It’s only about the Denver / El Paso point where it’s “better” to fly (and even THAT is debatable…)

    Yet in the Mercedes, it’s quite comfortable to drive. “Bench Butt” only sets in about hour 12 of “butts in seats” (unlike the Honda where I was ‘feeling it’ about hour 6). Add in that I’m a bit of a Night Owl that doesn’t mind at all driving through the night… And there are times I’ve just headed to L.A. at midnight, caught breakfast upon arrival, and did the day’s scheduled events.

    So for me, I’d have just driven up to Idaho. ( I’ve driven there before. The roads are pretty good – though the weather the last weekend was pretty rough.)

    Oh, and generally I’ve found driving much more time-deterministic. I’m pretty good at routing around traffic jams and timing driving to pass through cities off hours. If it’s a very important trip, even mechanical issues are easily solved with one stop at a car rental counter… So I usually allow a few hours ‘extra’ in a multi-day trip just in case I need to swap cars in the middle somewhere. (Though I’ve not needed to actually do it.).

    FWIW, the old Mercedes I drive is NOT an expensive car. The sedan cost me $1200 (it’s a 1980 Diesel, bought used with bad paint) and the wagon we bought for $10,000 about 20 years and 240,000 miles ago with 110,000 already on the clock (yes, it’s over 1/3 Million Miles now… they have been known to go a full million+) My $/mile for the car is near zero… 1/24 or about 4 cents. The sedan gets about 30 mpg freeway speeds. So 10 cents / mile (until recently… now about 12 cents). So call it about 15 cents / mile. $150 / 1000 miles. I’m “good with that”. (Coast to coast is about $450).

    (As the car is old, Reg is $80 a year and the small ‘tune up’ is changing the oil and checking the valves ever 5000 miles – that I can do in about 2 hours for about $20 in filters. As I have a few cars, insurance runs $100 / year on the last 2 on the policy. So all those costs disappear into the daily usage. The tires on it are 10 year old Michelin that I have not been able to wear out despite trying…)

    For me, flying is mostly a thing of the past. Unless there is some reason I must do fast bouncing around the place (or cross oceans), I’d rather drive on my own time, with whatever stuff I wish to carry, and without being poked, prodded, groped, computer logged, X-rayed, fondled, spindled, mutilated, and filmed…

    There’s also a wider seat, no screaming kids, no surly stewards / stewardesses / attendants / whatever-they-call-themselves, food service of my choice on my schedule, and beer does not cost $5 … Oh, and departure is from my front door, with arrival AT my destination. No dragging luggage around. No tips, lost luggage, or waiting and hoping… or finding out it went to the OTHER airport… And a station wagon caries a whole lot of luggage with no baggage fees…

  63. I’ve been there more times than I can remember, Anthony. Once the attendant at Montreal asked me to take the strings off my fiddle. When I offered to take off my shoe laces as well, the answer was, “No that would be ridiculous!”

  64. I suppose we all have a few tales of woe related to airline travel, but it is hard to top those related by Anthony. I moved to northern NM 17 years ago (from Amarillo, TX) and had a new found love affair with air travel. I live just an hour’s drive from the Albuquerque airport. In the early days I could make it to the airport in about an hour, park in covered, short term parking (which was not exorbitant back then), check my bags, clear security in a jiff and settle in for a beer and a sandwich before I took a leisurely stroll down to the gate to catch a 1PM non-stop to Chicago. A few hours later I would be at O’Hare, pick up my bags and a rental car a couple of hours later I’d be at my folks’ house in SW Michigan to visit family and friends. The return trips were just as easy.

    Airline travel became slower, more expensive and complicated every year since 1995. After 9/11 it became ridiculous. I think a trip to Michigan in the late 90s was the LAST time I ever flew anywhere for “fun.” Now I only travel by air when I HAVE to. I hate the entire experience. Air travel has become the modern day equivalent of riding a Greyhound.

  65. OK, read all the comments… Guess it’s OK to share a couple of airport stories (short forms…)

    A few years back, I was working in Florida and the daughter was a Student Ambassador to England. She was to go, via Delta with a plane change in Atlanta, from San Jose to London. As it was my last chance to see her, and I was a ‘every few weeks fly home’ schedule, we agreed to meet in passing in Atlanta. I booked a well timed flight Orlando / SJ. I got to the airport about 6 hour early and got to discover all the joys of that place. Including the fact that my (American) flight was in a completely different building from her (Delta) flight…

    But I got to her terminal OK (a few train and bus rides later).

    THEN I got to explain to the clerk why I wanted in to a Delta terminal and had no Delta ticket. About an hour of discussions and escalations later, including my drivers license, my daughters birthday, and was I her legal guardian and was my spouse on good terms with me (my being in a different state and all) and …. Eventually I got into the terminal B, IIRC.

    And a good thing too.

    The Ambassadors folks had planned to have kids from all over the country merge there. So a dozen or so flights were to land, have 12 -15 ish year old kids dumped out, and they would be escorted to THE flight to England. There were 2 adults assigned to do all the escorting…

    The planes, for a variety of reasons, got routed to different gates than planned and arrived at different times than planned. I joined the fray (along with another stray parent also en-passant) rushing from gate to gate, collecting kids, and delivering them to The One Gate.

    I did get to see my daughter…

    Then they started boarding the plane. One girl was still ‘in the air’ but we had been assured her flight was going to land ‘any minute now’. Then “last call” was issued. The Official Chaperon was already on board with the first 3/4 of the kids. The gate clerk was calling for the last few to board. I looked at the junior-chaperon and we talked to the gate clerk. “One is not here yet, but we were told you would wait. She’s landing now, per your folks”…. Her response: “We can’t wait, we have to finish boarding and depart”.

    Me: “What about the young girl”?
    Her: “We can just put her on the next flight.”
    (couple of iterations as I’m aghast at the idea of sticking a young girl ALONE on an international flight to ‘wherever’ with ‘whoever’ to meet her at the other end…)

    Sidebar: For efficiency, I’d put my drivers license in a clear carrier around my neck. Turns out, it looked rather “official” like an ID badge of some sort, and folks seemed to think I was somehow ‘official’ with the group. I used this to advantage at a couple of the gates…

    The Idea formed….

    All I needed was, at most, about 10 minutes. We’d been told the plane was on the ground and they were hustling gate-to-gate. I decided to Bluff.

    Me: “I’m sorry, we can’t break up the group and leave one child behind. If you do not wait, we will need to deboard those on board and you can take a half hour getting their luggage unloaded; we’ll wait for the next flight. (I turned to the semi-official-junior-Chaparon) Don’t let them (wave at last half dozen) board.”

    Now here’s the deal. You make a sales pitch, then YOU SHUT UP! The first one to speak loses… I said nothing, just looked at her. She started to say something, then stopped. She protested: But we can’t let it leave with people and luggage not together… But… I Just Looked, stone faced. Not a peep.

    She turned to the stupervisor. They looked at me. They got on the phone to someone. About 4 minutes later they said “We can wait 10 minutes”. I said nothing. About 5 minutes later, the final girl showed up. Everyone boarded. I thanked the clerk for their “understanding and patience”… and left.

    It was one small triumph, using their own rules against them.

    Everyone had a wonderful flight, a great trip, and fond memories. Except me…

    For reasons unknown, my ‘connection’ was not going to make it due to some storm or other moving in somewhere causing it to be cancelled. Back at the ticket counter (in Terminal A IIRC) I was told the only hope was a Delta flight… yes, in Terminal B. So over I go. A quick (free as it was their problem) reticket and I was on my way… but not home. By now it was about 7 pm.

    I ended up routed to Chicago. There I got to do an O.J. run through the entire length far terminal to far terminal. I was traveling in sandals that kept flying off the feet at a run… eventually I just carried them. Part way through, my carry-on (the only bag I had) came unzipped… at a run the pile spread over about 5 feet. Stuff stuff… I got everything back in and continued running… Made it to the plane with about a minute before the door was closed.

    It was nearing midnight. I got to San Jose airport about 5 am I think… By then I’d been up about 24 hours straight.

    But I slept soundly, knowing that at least one family was not dealing with the news that their little girl was on some unknown aircraft, alone, headed to a foreign land…

    ……….

    Oh, what the heck, story two:

    California has very high sales tax. About 9% in the Bay Area. I was working at Apple. They bought some software from someone for about $5 Million. 9% of $5 Million is a big amount.

    Due to the peculiarities of that particular tax law, a COPY of the software was not the taxable item, just the original media. So we “bought it” from our Oregon Sales Office (where there is no sales tax) and deposited the tape in a vault there. I was sent to go make a copy of the tape. (As the sales guys there did Macintosh stuff, not Unix tape copies…). No Problem.

    A simple “fly up in the morning, dupe the tape, fly back”…

    Well, the “copy” was not so easy. Finding a 9 track tape drive that worked, and did Unix stuff and figuring out what blocking factor and format and… But I finished in time for my 8 pm flight out… Called to confirm… flight canceled… Options? 9 pm via Seattle connection at 11.xx back to San Jose.. Booked.

    Got on the plane. Land in Seattle at something like ‘near midnight’. Flight is just a tad late, so gets canceled. Can’t take off after midnight or some such… Sound ordinance…

    I end up checked into a hotel next to the airport. I have from about 2 am to 5 am to “sleep” and then my 6:30 am re-re-booked flight… Needless to say, I don’t really sleep. If I “go down”, I’m likely to sleep 10 hours… Some food, a shower. Lay on the bed. Change cloths.

    I am now wondering how I ended up 2 States away from home, wide awake at 3 am, in a hotel. When each flight had been assured to be “on schedule” and I’d been there “on time”…

    I eventually got home “later that day” some 30 -40 ish hours after I first woke up…

    I won’t share the story about Denver in Winter and ending up in some strange airport in California rather then spending the night sleeping in the chairs designed to prevent sleeping… but the rental car got me home from there… even though I had to go to the Other Airport to get my car and bags the next day… (checked through)…

    And people wonder why I like to Drive everywhere now…

  66. Ha, great read, Anthony! Your pain is our pleasure. ;->

    On my fourth trip to China in Y2K (just returned from my 15th a few weeks ago) I was fortunate to get a seat on the newly inaugurated United nonstop from SFO to Shanghai’s then brand new Pudong International (PVG).

    Not! There were not enough passengers to cover the fuel cost, so they canceled the flight and bumped us to a Beijing flight with the promise that we would be met at the arrival gate by a United agent, escorted around Immigration and Customs, and put immediately on a flight to Shanghai where we would officially enter the country.

    Not! After 12 hours or so of flying, no agent present at arrival. After half an hour or so of standing around, we Shanghai transit passengers began filtering through Immigration to the Domestic Departures hall, where we found a spot on the floor and camped out, hoping to gain official notice. Finally someone from Air China figured out who we were, gathered us up and took us through security to a domestic departure concourse where we waited a few more hours for something to happen.

    Another airline agent, another private walking tour through the bowels of Beijing International to avoid yet another security queue, arriving at an obscure gate in an abandoned concourse where we boarded an ancient, musty DC-10 (Anthony’s mothballed plane story made me remember this) that had been scrounged from somewhere to take us on an unscheduled flight to Shanghai. After boarding, the doors were closed, then we sat and sat.. and sat… wondering what the latest holdup could be as grim tales of organ harvesting came unbidden into our minds. Turned out a young Chinese passenger was having fainting spells (probably from exhaustion and hunger) and the cabin and flight crew couldn’t decide what to do with her. They administered oxygen and tried a few other things, and finally decided to remove her from the plane. After waiting a long time for a stretcher to arrive, the flight crew took matters into their own hands and took the poor girl off using a kind of fireman’s carry technique.

    Taxiing at last! Scary process as turning involved the use of brakes, and the brakes howled so loud that everyone had to jam fingers into ears to avoid serious pain. The bird took off and flew OK, however, even through a turbulent thunderstorm as we approached Shanghai, where we arrived several hours late. Worst travel segment I have ever experienced, even considering some multiday typhoon delays.

  67. I’m unhappy traveling by air! Now, road travel is great. And, it’s a unique experience in the USA if you have the time and pack wisely.

  68. Some of my most recent flights I enjoyed watching the maps on display showing locations being flown over.. and realizing that not many years ago planes were shot down by idiot governments for “violating” these air spaces.

    Now the idiot governments just violate the passengers at the terminals. Progress?

  69. You should try flying into the USA. A loathsome process! You’re looked upon as being a criminal, by the rudest, surliest bunch of canutes, who’ve ever been poured into a uniform.
    In Florida, we had to heave our bags from the carousel, put them onto another one, then catch the shuttle tram, wait to retreave the bags again, before finding civilised people.
    Anyone else we came into contact with, who were involved with customer service, were pleasant & polite. Airport staff were just gobshites!

  70. Anthony & moderators – I’d just tried to post a comment, and for the first time got shifted to a screen that said my email addy is associated with a wordpress account/gravitar, and that I needed to use the back button and log in!! I hit the back button, and my comment is gone.

    Is there any chance you can find and post the comment? Would it have gone into the spam filter/bucket? Why is wordpress suddenly requiring us to log in just to post a comment when it never has before? I’ve had the wordpress account for ages now, but almost never log in…

    It forced me to log in before I could post this also.

    { Near as I can tell, it doesn’t make it to the queue then. -ModE}

  71. And of course now it is automatically posting using “Rational Debate” as my handle too, instead of allowing me to enter “Rational Db8.” What the heck is wordpress doing???

    [It does what it does. Maybe cosmic rays... -ModE ]

  72. Sigh. Thanks for checking ModE. Any idea if this is a chance random thing, or is this a new wordpress ‘feature’ that’ll force us to log in before we can post from now on?

    [ Near as I can tell, it's a new WordPress security feature being 'debugged'. It may stay, or go, depending on who knows what. WordPress has informational pages, somewhere, that might be useful. -ModE ]

  73. Paris CDG 1 is a fantastic circular terminal – if you get lost just keep walking and you’ll come to the right place. Parking is in the same building and the buses pull up close to the counters. CDG 3 is mostly for budget flights but also very easy to access and ‘navigate’. The mighty gleaming new Terminal 2 is horrific – linear so get it wrong and you’ll march for miles. Also mostly Air France so strike blighted and surly.

    Surely the oil companies that finance this blog could spring for a NetJets subscription for Anthony? Then again NetJets is owned by Warren Buffet, so he probably wouldn’t be welcome (Buffet also has a large chuck of GE, which is structured to tap into Green Fear).

  74. Anthony

    Bad luck! But it raises interesting questions as to how complex we are making life and how much time we spend on doing things that were once simple or we didn’t need to do at all. Nowhere is this more true than the internet/computers which I think pose a much greater danger to human life than agw. Let me explain.

    Over the last couple of months I’ve had quite a few problems using WUWT. Biggest problem was when I just couldn’t enter the ‘leave a reply’ box in order to make a comment. When that eased the site had decided to become italicised-as you recently blogged about..

    My internet connection was also becoming very fragmented and slow. Probable reason an increasingly crackly telephone line disrupting the flow. A phone call to the phone co, made with difficiulty, took me to a call centre in India where the operatives already difficult to understand accent was accentuated by my crackly phone line and their apparently standing in a tin room in a rain storm.

    They assured me nothing was wrong with my line . I asured them it was . After a third call to helpful people whose accent was no easier due to their now havng apparently migrated to working in an echo chamber, I managed to get an appointment from the Telephone line co for four days hence within a four hour window. .

    Engineer arrived (first appointment of the day-hurrah!) complete with cherry picker to go up the pole (health and safety) who checked the incoming lines-all clear-the fault must be within the house. The second operative now disappeared to pick other cherries- no doubt at Joe Romms house- whereby the first engineer deemed it impossible to go up a ladder without his operative, trained in ladder holding. So we had to wait for a new second operative, but in the meantime we opted to investigate the loft where the problem seemed to be the deterioration of the original (30 year old?) cabling.

    To fix this a new piece of line was required to run inside the house from the eaves to the point inside the loft. Eventually the ladder holding expert arrived enabling the piece of cable to be poked through the eaves, which through lying flat out I managed to hook with a hi tech wooden pole with a piece of wire on the end. Eventually all was connected and everything worked.

    Until 2 days later-today-when the internet is intermittent and slow… A phone call to India is required. I don’t know if I can face it. A trip to Real Climate seems preferable.

    However, the serious point is that over the last 10/20 years we have come to rely so much on computers/internet and complex highly tecdhnial systems that few people understand. Our information is increasingly be held in the Cloud rather than on our computers. What happens to this pack of dominos when there is a serious solar flare or a concerted hacker attack to our convoluted systems?

    Result. No computers. No internet. Tills in shops stop working. Drinking water isnt pumped, sewage isnt treated. Goods aren’t delivered to shops. Electricity and other services are disrupted. Petrol can’t come out of the petrol station pump. Money remains in the cash point. Result: Chaos and social breakfown in a couple of days. Forget AGW-our fate is tied to the smooth functioning of our increaingly complex world and it won’t take much for the dominos to fall.

    (ps The phone engineer was brilliant throughout the two and a half hours he was here)
    tonyb

  75. From Rational Debate on March 21, 2012 at 1:19 am:

    Anthony & moderators – I’d just tried to post a comment, and for the first time got shifted to a screen that said my email addy is associated with a wordpress account/gravitar, and that I needed to use the back button and log in!! I hit the back button, and my comment is gone.

    A bunch of people have complained about the login problem. I have my little wordpress proto-blog, but with my ISP I have 8 or so possible email addresses so I made one before registering that’s only for wordpress. So it hasn’t affected me.

    Try making another email address, going into your wordpress account and set that as the contact email, see if the problem goes away.

  76. LOL

    ” It was then to my horror that I discovered I’d misread the wrong flight time,”

    Actually, it sounds like you read the wrong flight time perfectly well.

  77. There is an addendum to Murphy’s Law.
    O’Toole’s Addendum states ” Murphy’s Law usually is optomistic.”

    I guess all the above confirm this.

  78. I have to confess…I couldn’t finish the stories. My stress level started building up and up as I read along, with flashbacks of all my plane trips and ill-timed computer failures flitting before my eyes. I started skipping parts before deciding that I just can’t do it. I won’t do it. I don’t have to read it all. I live in the free world; no one can make me. So, there. Sorry, Anthony.

  79. Your story confirms my conviction that if your destination is within a 12 hour drive, you drive. Anything further than thaf, or over large expanses of water, then you go ahead and subject yourself to the horrendously wastefull process of flying.

    Once I took a business trip from Central PA to a town north of Atlanta GA. I left my house at 4:30 am to start the process. After a flight, delay in DC, another connecting flight, sitting on the tarmac, and rental car from the Atlanta airport through horrendous rush hour traffic we arrived at our hotel at 5:30 pm.

    Months later we had to take a heavy piece of equipment to the same location. My boss asked how we were going to deal with the airports with this equipement. I said “simple, we’re not. We’re taking the company van”. So we left at 6:30 am (you are free to leave when you want when you drive) and arrived at our Atlanta hotel at 6:30pm. The drive was nice. We stopped for lunch, we even stopped to check out a fireworks store, And we didn’t have to experience the Atlanta rush hour traffic.

    I personnally try and take a train if possible, followed by a car, and only when no other option will work I fly. It’s not a fear of flight but rather a realization that it’s an incredibly wasteful process that eats up your entire day no matter how far the flight, because the air time is the smallest fraction of the whole end-to-end process.

  80. As per my post above, seems Chico to Moscow is 739 miles. Provided 70mph that’s a little over 10 hours. Factor in lunch, some necessary breaks, is it 12 hours? In my world that means I’m driving and forget the airport nonsense.

  81. @TonyB:

    At the library today. Asked for help looking up a book (“State Of Fear”) as the screen was giving me “404 Error”…

    Long story short: Something in network land was being cranky so NO computer in the library could look up where a book might be. The system is “county wide” as all books are shared in all the libraries in the county. (or maybe wider area…) The “librarians” had no idea where any book might be without the computer to tell them.

    After a good 5 minutes, I was told “I think we’ll have to call I.T. support”.

    I left the library, went to Barns and Noble and bought it for $10 (and got a Starbucks coffee to boot!) in less than 5 minutes. The clerk said “It will be in fiction” and we walked over, they pulled it off the shelf and handed it to me. IIRC, the shelves are sorted by author and we both knew who that was ;-) I walked to the in-store Starbucks and ordered, was asked if I was buying the book, and both were rung up together.

    Don’t know how the library made out. Maybe I’ll check them again in a few days…

    ( I am becoming more convinced that the CGR / CME / Whatever gremlins are working overtime… and any day now Life As We Know It will come crashing down. Heck, I may even have to learn how to make coffee without a computerized coffee maker… something about hot water and coffee grounds… ;-)

  82. bobby b says:
    March 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm
    Someday, should you ever have a thirteen-year-old son during a period of time when you are traveling frequently by plane, and your son reads some book that describes how someone had a jolly good time by cutting a piece of aluminum foil into the shape of a gun and placing it inside of a book that someone else would be carrying in their carry-on luggage…
    ———————————
    A book by Trevanian, pretty sure it was the The Eiger Sanction.

  83. @E.M.Smith on March 20, 2012 at 11:43

    AMEN Brother!!!! My thoughts exactly!!! I wish I would have read your comment prior to my original post. I could have simply referenced yours with “IBID”

  84. I once ended up chatting to a guy who missed the same flight as I did. He told me how he had built in “buffers” for every step going to the air port, so to make sure he would have plenty time to get there, no matter what. — But he still missed the flight. The reason: He went to the wrong air port first, and then all his buffers weren’t enough to manage the transfer from Luton to Stanstead in time :)

  85. Zac says: March 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm
    And you think you have problems? Why is it impossible to unplug earphones from a phone, carefully wind them up, put them in a safe pocket, yet when they are next taken out they are in a tangled bunch of knots that takes ages and much mental torment to sort out?

    Ah ah! Of course I have that problem with, say, computer cables and transformer wires. Quietly left to themselves, they spontaneously develop incredible, creative knots and just get mutually entangled after you left them well separated.

    Finally, a few months ago I heard of a paper demonstrating that space-time followed the Navier-Stokes equation, which hints at possible chaotic behavior. Voilá! All makes sense. :-)

    It can be worse than we thought, though. What if CO2 induces chaotic behavior in space-time? Can we get knots in our hair by 400 ppm?

  86. Pamela Gray says: March 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm
    Give me a jeep, a nearby river, a rod and reel with a fresh worm on the end, and I’m good. And if’n it’s the first fish of the season,

    Interesting that you mention it, as I was considering that I gave up fishing, on retrospect, precisely because of the Navier-Stokes equation. (See above.)

  87. Reading all these stories makes me wonder if it isn’t time for the USA to invest in Bullet or TGV trains.

  88. E M smith

    Its bad enough when the computer won’t tell you where the book is located-like your library.

    Imagine if you had then gone to the bookstore, picked up the book and taken it to the check out…then the power went down.

    You wouldnt be allowed to pay for it yet you had the book in your hand! Utter frustration.

    I don’t know if anything can be done to reduce this over dependence on over complex technology which of coiurse makes our lives easier in many ways but complicates it in many others.And when a hacker or another Carrington event strikes….

    tonyb

  89. Thanks Anthony! It helps to hear of other stories from the Twilight Zone.

    I once had the priviledge of missing three flights in a row at SFO – trying to get to BOS. Missed the first due to a traffic accident with no alt routes, the next two because the Reps wouldn’t tell me anything other than the “next flight out” – one to LA, one to MCA all departing within 15 min. I ran from one gate to another – “no they won’t hold the flight, you’ll just have to run.”

    Next to Saint Louis’ Lambert Field, SFO is my least favorite airport. One can clearly see that the Major and other political personages have never had to hike to the tram to get to a rentacar. Just more of the “We love the proletariat, it’s people we can’t stand,” mentality. Get the cattle through the airport as efficiently as possible, while they take Gov jets, or private jets.

  90. Smokey says:
    Those were the good old days, pre-9/11/2001. Muslim bastids! They screwed it up for everyone.

    Just an excuse. The Gov’t would have found a way to do it regardless…

  91. How about an airport for only departures, arrivals and plane handling not the current combo of shopping mall and airline sales lounge- that could be very secure and simple if approaching the airport was limited for the public to trains.

  92. I myself just did a round trip over the weekend that brought me onto route I80 for about half of PA.

    The striking thing is the long line of fossil fueled semi’s that transport the bulk of our daily purchases. The idea back in the 50’s(Eisenhower?) included the strategy of diversifying the transportation network for national commerce over roadways to reduce the effectiveness of nuclear attacks on cities that would cut off railway service because they all generally connect through cities. Logically, we saw how effective it was to disable German or German controlled rail lines back in WW2 and realized our rail service in the 40’s was just as vulnerable to Soviet attack via nukes on an even larger scale. (And perhaps seeing the effectiveness of our Red Ball Express helped with the realization as well.)

    Our interstate road system put a serious kink in USSR nuke targeting strategy back then. But now here are the commies back with a new strategy to impede greedy capitalist commerce via cutting off the fuel that powers our roadways.

    Wake up! They are throttling us NOW! Stop them.

  93. The difficulties of ensuring we are all safe when going by air are understood. However, there still have to be logical reasons for all security procedures. e.g. An airline Captain described how he had to queue with everyone else to go through security (not an issue in itself). He had a bottle of water which was confiscated. He explained he would be working in a dry environement etc etc. and asked a supervisor why the water had been taken away. The super replied “you might take over the flight”. The Captain replied “That is my intention”.

    A friend once flew himself from Biggin Hill near London to Norwich, in a single engined plane, had a cup of tea in the terminal and went to return to the plane. He was stopped and made to go through the body scanner!

    • Stephen Skinner says:
      e.g. An airline Captain described how he had to queue with everyone else to go through security (not an issue in itself). He had a bottle of water which was confiscated. He explained he would be working in a dry environement etc etc. and asked a supervisor why the water had been taken away. The super replied “you might take over the flight”. The Captain replied “That is my intention”.

      Do you have a link for that? I searched, but couldn’t find anything about it.

  94. I just signed up for DSL service (yes, I’m behind the times in this regard, but dialup was becoming intolerably slow) just days before reading this post, and I am literally shocked by the amount of regulatory meddling involved compared to just a few yrs ago. Reading their Terms of Service, it’s like signing your life away — we have the right to remotely inspect your computer for viruses, bots, and to track your internet activities, etc, etc.

    1984 may have only been off by several decades. Well, I’ll just have to find some programs out there to stifle their tracking & meddling. The game is afoot….

  95. Best flights? Five “Nylon’ trips (New York – London) on Concorde before she was unfortunately retired. Ah well, my carbon footprint must be reasonable, though nothing compared to the artists who jet around the world to lecture us constantly.

    One of the worst was a flight home to Caracas from Lima in 1997. A Friday night, but I had made sure that the colombian national airline flight was straight through, even though we were scheduled to make a stop in Bogota.

    Got to Bogota an hour late after an unscheduled stop in Medellin to refuel. WTF? But still, same flight through to Caracas, right? Wrong. When we got to Bogota we all had to disembark. Apparently it was going to be a plane change with the same flight number! That was the first and last time that has happened to me and the first indication that my carefully laid plans were going pear-shaped. Only real problem was that the other plane had left, 45 minutes earlier. No more flights until the morning. We were all lined up to get vouchers to go to a hotel. This was delayed by an italian guy who insisted on repeatedly going back to the front of the line to argue with the young lady who was handing out the vouchers. What got my shorts in a bunch was the smile on his face every time he returned. He was getting his jollies at our expense.
    When we finally got on the bus, he got off again to discuss with the ground crew. I made a comment that it would be better for all of us if he would shut his piehole: let us get to the hotel and not make a bad situation worse. His wife overheard and communicated this to him. He came and stood over me, but I stood up very quickly and looked down on him (in so many ways). He sat down again fortunately, or I might be writing this from a cell in a South American country.

    At the checkin the staff were putting passengers two to a room. I politely refused to share with anyone. To the back of the queue I was sent. Finally when everyone else except a bolivian gentleman with a long ponytail and I were the only ones left there was a standoff. I said I would pay for my room and take it up after with the airline. I got my own room.
    Next morning at checkout I was informed that the airline accepted the charge. A bit of an anticlimax in some sense.

    At the airport, the only morning flight to Caracas was full. Another voucher received and back to the hotel to wait for the afternoon one. A phone call at 1:00pm; not to bother going to the airport as the afternoon flight had been cancelled. Down to reception to collect more vouchers for lunch and dinner. That evening I contemplated the odds of ever leaving or whether it would be necessary to apply for citizenship. Finally got home in the wee hours of Monday.

    I still have the gift from the airline, a set of cutlery from the first class section.

  96. It looks more like a rabbit than a chicken.
    REPLY: it always helps to read the caption and look at images on a decent sized monitor – Anthony

  97. My suggestion for a European wishing to visit America. Fly to Canada and drive across the border. You still will get the immigration process at the border, but Canadian airport security is at least more polite. Of course that kind of leaves southern locations off the itinerary unless you have a great deal of holiday time.

    When I lived in England, one of my British coworkers asked me what I thought of his holiday plans to the States. He was going to fly into Orlando, do the Disney thing, drive to the grand canyon, then end at Anaheim to do the Disney thing there. I told him it sounded like a wonderful month’s holiday. That’s when he told me he only planned for 10 days. He didn’t seem to realize that it was 2500 miles to drive, and would take most of the 10 days. This was in the days before TSA, so I convinced him to fly from Orlando to Vegas and rent a car there for the rest of the trip. He and his family had a wonderful time. Now I’d have to advise him to extend his holiday and drive or make a less ambitious itinerary.

  98. Back in 1981, my uncle, who was a physician, was driving me to LA International to catch an afternoon flight to Boise when we came upon a two-car collision accident that had happened at an intersection just a few minutes before.

    As a physician, he was obligated to stop and render assistance. We were already running twenty minutes late at that point.

    It took fifteen minutes to check everybody out — five people — plus a little more time to converse with the EMT’s who had arrived shortly afterward. After his initial examinations were done and the hand-off of responsibility to the EMT’s had taken place, we resumed our drive to LAX.

    So we are now about forty minutes behind schedule. We arrive at the airport, we park at the closest garage, and then we boogey on over to the curbside luggage check in. We go through security and he goes with me to the gate. (Non-passengers could do that in 1981.) We arrive at the gate just as they are getting ready to close the door.

    The last thing my uncle says to me before I go through the gate is this: “Just remember, if you are more than a minute early for any appointment, you are not making effective use of your time.”

  99. In middle Asia ther is a saying; “Travel is a foretaste of the Hell to come”

    Just imagine if TSA was the lowest bidder to manage Hell….

  100. TonyG says:
    March 21, 2012 at 7:49 am
    Stephen Skinner says:
    ………The super replied “you might take over the flight”. The Captain replied “That is my intention”.

    “Do you have a link for that? I searched, but couldn’t find anything about it.”

    Sadly no. It was a radio phone-in discussing whether more regulation was needed to protect air passengers. As the title was slightly ‘leading the witness’ most people who rang in were in favour of the same or more regulation. Then this pilot rang in with his story. His main point was there is enough restrictions already but they should be applied intelligently, or words to that effect.
    I am always disappointed when solutions for problems appear to be unrelated to the problem. I’m not necessarily talking about the restriction on bottled water, but, for example, when it was determined that the success of 9/11 was in part due to a failure of communication between the CIA and FBI, the solution was not to implement communication between the CIA and FBI but instead create a completely new department; Homeland security.

  101. A bit of aluminum-hat thought. The US government would prefer that you not travel at all. Travel is far and away the best means of education. Among other important revelations is that in very few parts of the planet do people operate and think as you do at home. Regardless of how different they may be depicted in you high school geography class or the local media, reality is far, far different. Even within the US, the reality of regional differences can surprise you.

    Having been to Europe, Israel, and post-USSR Ukraine, I can say for certain that US air-travel security is needlessly irritating, worse even than a former Iron Curtain country like Ukraine, where you could be stopped at any time and required to show “your papers, please.” I’ve often wished that the Israeli airport security people ran things here. They are trained immensely better than the TSA gang, are not dependent on technology and procedure, and are extremely effective. They are also polite, no nonsense, and will be nice about your falling asleep leaning against the passport-control counter.

  102. Back in the late 60’s into the 80’s I used to fly around the East Coast on repair assignments for various OEM mainframe computer manufacturers, lugging my personal toolcase and a briefcase as carry-ons. I’d show up thirty minutes before flight time, get my pre-paid ticket at the front counter, then walk back 4-500 yards to the gates – before any Security was in place. On one flight the gentleman seated next to me had a Colt .45 1911 semi-automatic handgun in his briefcase. Neither I or the Stewardess had any problem with it. I also carried a four-inch folding knife regularly, but the only blood it’s tasted has been mine!

    I believe it was the D.B. Cooper escapade that introduced Carry-On Bag Inspections. All bags (but not handbags!) were opened and looked in, just in case someone else was secreting a parachute. lol Anyway, the observant Security gal pulled out my 1/8th inch blade 14 inch long screwdriver, asking the Cop nearby if this could be considered a weapon and shouldn’t the case be in the hold. Cop looks in and said he doubted I would be doing any disassembly en-route!

    Had several other run-ins over the years, but by the early 90’s just kept my knife with me. I refused to fly after 9-11, as the whole scenario has become intolerable, and I could drive to most of my calls in less time than flying, by the time you add in the exorbitant waste of time and treasure these misguided security measures invoke.

    I pity that our children will never know the freedom we had, Anthony. Stay strong, and thank you.

  103. C’mon folks. There are over 5,000 flights a day in the U.S. A few crazy stories are fun to read but those are really the exception not the rule. As a huge fan of WUWT and with great respect to Anthony, if you hadn’t caused the problem by misreading your flight info you would have not had a story to write. :)

  104. James Ard says:
    March 21, 2012 at 7:39 am

    It looks more like a rabbit than a chicken.
    REPLY: it always helps to read the caption and look at images on a decent sized monitor – Anthony
    ———————————————————————————————————-
    Until I read the caption, it looked to me like a Thanksgiving turkey (and I stared at it for several seconds on my 21″ monitor, trying to figure out why they would hang that in an airport terminal).

    Funny stories Anthony, and many commenters (sic?).

  105. Anthony,
    I hope you find this post. We were all deeply disappointed on your not making it to the conference, but on behalf of the Steering Committee for the Family Forest Landowners and Managers Conference, let me extend our sincerest sympathy to you and your family for your recent ordeal. Had you got on the plane in Sacramento, you would have had to deal with a winter storm on your return home. I was out all morning clearing 12” of snow from my road.
    In retrospect we should have recommended you fly into Lewiston, ID on Delta, if possible, but I admit SWA and Spokane are my preferred airline and route. Your experiences with Idaho travel appear to represent all of my worst trips rolled into two, but mine had snow in St. Louis and rain from Washington DC to Jackson, MS on to the Florida panhandle, DOD classified documents, wrong aircraft and a blizzard in Albuquerque. Fortunately, I did not go to jail either. I would like to assure you that it is not Idaho. Our state is a beautiful place and we hope you will attempt to return soon. I must admit, though, the only place I have lost my luggage, was in Spokane after connecting through Salt Lake.
    As it turned out with some quick research on http://www.wattsupwiththat.com and http://www.surfacestations.org, I was able to describe the objectives of the surface station project, quote the statistics on error and present the recent post of NCDC mean temperatures for the last decade for the US. I described the problems with IPCC Global Circulation Model temperature projections, compared these projections for the PNW for 2000-2020 to the downturn in mean temperatures for the last decade in the PNW and the US, and addressed the deep solar minimum we are entering. With this limited view, I was able to link our first talk on landowner perceptions on Climate Change to our third talk on the “Adaptability of Western White Pine to a Changing Climate.” So it turned out to be a three legged stool with a slight tilt as I tried to second guess what you would present and made a weak attempt to describe a coherent argument. We were also able to substitute another presentation to fill in the remaining time. Ironically, a member of the Society of American Foresters presented strategy and polling data associated with a political action in California to convince largely Democratic opponents of the need to address the overstocked condition of California forests through commercial thinning.
    I want to extend a personal invitation to you for R&R in Idaho. I live off-grid inside a National Forest on 80 acres of private timberland that my wife and I are in the process of restoring to a sustainable, commercial tree farm. We are Idaho Forest Stewards and members of both the Idaho Forest Owners Association and the American Tree Farm System. No highways, no phone lines, no power poles – just two mountain streams, two horses, two dogs, two cats and three chickens. Thank you very much for agreeing to speak to our group and for your valient attempt to get here.
    Sincerely,
    Director Idaho Forest Owners Association

  106. Alan Watt says:
    March 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm
    During WWII the US military essentially operated an airline to get officers to destinations all aournd the world. It was called The Air Transport Command (wiki here ). My father told me a sign often posted in their facilities was “It takes time and patience to travel by air”.
    Some things never change.

    Yup. When the Air Force changed the name to Military Airlift Command (MAC), the only thing that changed was the name. We used to say that MAC was the abbreviation for “Maybe Airplane Come”…

  107. It’s wonderful what one can learn about a country reading threads such as this. You sound great people; although I am a trifle puzzled by your airoplane stories. I thought you all traveled about in Air Force Ones and had limo connections?

  108. Sorry, I’m a little late to the party.

    I’ve certainly not flown as much as some who have commented here, but have probably flown more than most people in the US. My Dad used to work for United Airlines, so we flew quite a bit, on standby, when I was growing up. I don’t really remember any bad experiences through the 60s and 70s.

    Didn’t fly much in the 80s (apart from flying to Germany while in the Army) and 90s (apart from a couple of vacations, see below). But in twenty hundred I made a career change, and became an IT consultant. As a result, I was traveling several times a month.

    On 9/11, I was on a project in Dallas, and was stuck there for three weeks. Ironically, the smoothest flight experience I ever had was that first flight after 9/11. The security line was empty, the airport was empty, the plane was half empty. Everything went smooth as silk.

    My worst experience was after a return flight from the UK in Spring 1994. I was in the international arrivals terminal at Dulles Airport in Virginia, going through customs.

    Full disclosure: apart from trying pot in high school, I’ve never done illegal drugs.

    So, you can probably see what’s coming.

    While waiting in line with probably a hundred other people, with luggage, the customs guys brought a drug-sniffing dog through the lines. For some reason, he liked one of my duffel bags. So, off we go to the “back room”. They questioned me and went through every piece of my luggage. Turns out the dog liked one of my sneakers. They never found anything, there was nothing to find. But I had a fear in the back of my mind that someone unknown to me might have slipped something into my luggage. Fortunately they only did a partial strip search. After a couple hours they let me go. The only reason I can think of for the dog liking my sneaker was that I sometimes kept them in the same closet as the bag of food for my dog. Guess he likes Iams.

    The terminal was totally devoid of people at that point. I’m sure the folks in line told a wild tale to their friends of the “drug dealer” caught by customs at the airport.

    As others have stated, I drive whenever possible now. Just last week I drove from my house north of Seattle to Spokane for a couple of tech classes. I could have flown, but the time spent flying from Bellingham airport to Seatac, then to Spokane would probably have taken longer than the 5.5 hour drive. Not to mention I could stop and eat whenever I felt like it, do a little sightseeing, take some pics of the wind farms at Ryegrass, etc.

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