Wednesday, February 15, 2006


There! I'm feeling more in the mood this week, especially after having to endure the brainless flying public on my trip back from MX to the US of A.

Let me tell you about the trip.

First, we have to put up with the horribly overcrowded Aeropuerto Gustavo Ordaz at Puerto Vallarta. We get there from the hotel and find 400-500 people in a line waiting for baggage search. The Mexicans don't believe in X-Ray equipment, so they have a squadron of baggage inspectors with a flotilla of tables, upon which each piece of baggage must be hoisted and opened. Then they poke around while you stand idly by, then give you the OK, and you zip it back up and go to the next available ticket counter for your airline. The search was desultory, and probably would not have found an AK-47 in my biggest bag, a rolling duffel with numerous mesh-separated compartments in it.

OK, got checked in for the flight, with over an hour left until gate time. Go up to the departure concourse (security is the same as in the US, only faster). Get the last table at a sports bar and HAND OVER MY LAST 200 PESOS FOR 2 BEERS AND A HALF-LITER OF ICE-WATER! Christ on a Crutch! Of course there's soccer on (no, it's NOT "football", dammit!). Suck the beers and water slowly, do the wife and daughter and I, then we mosey off to the gate, to await loading on the busses which take us to the airplanes. They have jetways at this airport, but don't use them for some reason. I luck out, get on the back of the bus thru the back door, and am first off the bus and up the ramp with the wiff, so we get to our seats in the back of the plane with ease. Only two bawling babies with earshot, must be my lucky day. I plug in the headset on my PDA, fire up some bagpipers to drown out the infants and play solitare until the stewardess glares at me (1bn Scots Guards must have drowned out the "no more electronic devices" call).

The airplane, a brand-new Boeing 737-900, screams off the runway in 5000 feet dispite the heat and the load. Very good engines these GE & P/W people build.

We climb to altitude. We start getting beat to shit in clear air turbulence. After the cruise-climb, the pilot levels off, makes some remark about bumps, AND STAYS AT THE SAME ALTITUDE FOR 3 GOT-DAMN HOURS! Now to be fair, I didn't know whether this meant that the pilot was a sadist, or whether the Mexican controllers wouldn't give him a smoother altitude. It happens, however, on about 2/3 of the flights I take down to or back from PVR. Saint Christopher on a Stick! Why the !!@#$%^%$#@! can't the airlines and the airspace controllers cooperate on fixing this little problem?

My bladder won't hold the beer, so dispite the seat-belt sign being illuminated, I get up and go a few feet back to the rear of the cabin to take a whiz. On the way, I notice that in the very back row, two rows behind our seats, is a couple with a toddler AND THEY ARE DOING MAJOR MANUAL SUCTION WITH A SUCTION DEVICE IN THE KID'S NOSE AND MOUTH! The kid is not blue, nor is it crying. I put this down to mama-nerves and finish my business and return to my seat.

We finally cross the border and begin enroute descent to LAX. The very second we leave our bumpy altitude, it gets smooth as glass, of course. Now I KNOW that the fault for the bumpy ride was the pilot's. I hate his guts. I resolve to glare at him as he gives me the buh-bye at the terminal.

It's not going to be that easy. As we fly over my old home-drome at March AFB in Riverside County, the pilot announces that we have a dangerously ill passenger on board who will be removed by the paramedics upon landing. The passenger is in the back of the airplane, so we won't be able to deplane in the usual mad rush.

It's the couple with the toddler.

Now I'm pissed. Really pissed.

This couple brought a very sick kid with who-knows-what severe upper respiratory distress on a public flight, possibly risking all our lives from infection and definitely risking the kid's ears and sinuses from bursting, just so they didn't interrupt their precious schedule. There's a perfectly satisfactory air ambulance service in PVR, or, in the alternative, the parents could have waited until the kid was more stable before flying. The airlines will change tickets with no charge for this type of reason.

We land, they OK cell phones, and I call my Phoenix host to tell him that we're on the ground in CA. I relate the situation with the kid, but I'm not worried about my connection, because I have over 3 hours between getting to LAX and flying out for PHX.

The guy behind me listens to me talking and gets in my face, remarking that I'm cruel and insensitive to put MY inconvenience ahead of the kid's welfare. I decide to reply. I inform him that I'm a trained EMT, and briefly detail the risk to the kid and the passenger complement involved. Then I ask HIM if HE had his Whooping Cough and Pertussis booster shot lately. He shuts up.

We wait and wait, hooked up to the jetway. The paramedics come aboard, assess the toddler, and carry him off the airplane. We finally get to deplane, and we whiz through Immigration and Customs, and then get our exercise.

LAX lands all it's International flights at the International Terminal #4. Most domestic flights leave from Terminal #1.

They are not close together.

Die Frau and I schlep our baggage (America West is in the process of being taken over by US Airways and had no baggage agent at Customs like the entire rest of the frigging air industry did) almost a MILE (the friendly airport cop said a "two to three minute walk") down to Terminal One, go in at ground level, finally find an operating elevator and go get checked in to US-AW.

Baggage inspection is a whiz, they have a real X-ray machine with competent operator, but why in God's Name, when I present him with four bags to inspect, all matched luggage, all with my personal red duct tape on the handles, all with identical airline destination tags, DOES HE HAVE TO ASK ME FOUR TIMES IF THERE ARE ANY FIREARMS IN THEM!!!?

We're starving, and we find a mini-pizza express place handy, so I go in, order two mini-pizzas, one Snapple for die frau, a large orange juice for me. TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS AND EIGHTY-EIGHT CENTS! AND IT WAS THE SECOND WORST PIZZA I EVER ATE! The worst was made by a food-hootch operator during the war in SEA, a guy who'd never done anything more advanced than serving burned water-buffalo on a stick and boiling veggies in thin fish stock. That was BAD (made with GI surplus cheese), but this was AWFUL, considering they had all the good ingredients at hand. I've crapped better pizza sauce than was on that pizza.

We fly to PHX on a Frog Airbus A320, which, dispite being only a quarter full, having little fuel aboard, still took 7000 feet to get off the runway. I suspect the pilot did not use full available thrust, as the SNECMA engines are powerful, and should have gotten that bird off in 3000 feet. The idiot departure pattern adds at least 15 minutes to the flight. You climb almost all the way to altitude over the damn Pacific, coasting back in at 25,000 feet and flying a few minutes at that altitude, then letting down in enroute descent for KPHX.

Baggage retrieval at PHX was routine, then the Congenial Host's Lexus hove into view at the curb, and we were here. Scotch and confabulation until 0200, and a good bed until noon the next day.

I'm re-relaxing, have a date with AnarchAngel to shoot next week.

Life is good, except for the travel.

Had enough of my screed? Prolly have, by now. I'm not the only curmudgeon on the block, and fortunately for you the bean juice has kicked in, so here are some links:

Go to Grouchy Old Cripple in Atlanta's place and check out his Brokeback Mountain cartoon series. They're a riot, and they'll make up for the fact that Willy Nelson decided to legitimize this travesty upon an American icon.

GuyK at Charming, Just Charming keeps up an effective harassing fire on the HildeBeast.

Chris Byrne, the AnarchAngel, relives his last year and First Post, detailing his immediate qualification as a Curmudgeon.

PawPaw holds the (D)onks' noses to the grindstone with this report about Katrina Aid abuse, which, if I remember, he predicted just after he, himself survived the storm.

Well, ibeddy, ibeddy, ibeddy, that's all folks. More goodness next week. Maybe a range report.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"ibeddy"? I always wondered how that thar word was spelt.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is if you speak Duck, like Daffy.


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