Musing: 8 Reasons I Suck At Airline Travel

I suck at airline travel. Here are 8 reasons why:

This bag sucks, and causes back pain - but some part of me refuses to stop using it.
This bag sucks, and causes back pain – but some part of me refuses to stop using it.

1. Lack of Wheels. Despite the fact that I travel fairly regularly – my luggage completely sucks. Rather than a traditional roller board piece of luggage, I still rely on an over sized hanging bag (see picture). It’s bigger than a hanging bag but not quite an actual piece of acceptable adult luggage. I just stuff this thing totally full of crap – because I over pack. Importantly, this not-quite-a-hanging-bag has zero wheels. Which means the weight of its contents may not be distributed on the floors of and rolled across America’s overly spread out-airports. The shoulder strap is ill fitting, which forces me to carry it like a briefcase. But it’s way too heavy for that. It’s heavier than me. Basically, It sucks.

2. Over packing. I’m going on a business trip for 2 nights so yea, I’ll probably need work out clothes. Side note: I’ve never ‘worked out’ in my life. Since none of my dress shirts really fit well right now, I’ll just go ahead and take 7 options. I’ll probably want to change into something a little more casual after work before walking across the street to O’Charley’s for a 5:00pm dinner, so I’ll go ahead and pack some casual shoes, a few of my best western snap shirts and my top 3 or 4 pair of jeans. Rather than check the weather, I’ll just pack 2 different jackets, that way I’m covered. Who cares that my bag weighs 285 pounds? Oh right, I do. Damn it.

3. I never check in early. Because I’m totally insane, I never check in or print a boarding pass in advance – as most seasoned travelers do. I simply wait until I arrive at the airport. My reasoning: I have absolutely zero reasoning. I’m literally incapable of handling this simple task. Therefore, I typically board last. Therefore, I’m typically bumping my over sized not-exactly-a-hanging-bag into passengers seated in the aisles and cramming said bag into an already crowded over-head compartment.

4. Coffee. I typically purchase a giant cup right when I get through security. This is a bad idea, but I do it anyway because bad ideas define my travel behavior. This particular behavior is bad because I then have to carry the giant cup of coffee with one hand, while carrying the giant, over stuffed, not-quite-a-hanging-bag with the other. In most American airports the average walk between security and my gate is 378.7 miles, so it’s a long walk. This ritual results in 2nd degree burns on the coffee hand – because I can’t rotate hands – and generates shoulder and back pain on the not-quite-a-hanging-bag side of my torso. It sucks. I suck.

5. iTunes challenged. There are serious gaps in my technology game. Major gaps. One of these gaps involves iTunes. I’ve never quite figured out or taken the time to synch my previously purchased iTunes songs to my iPhone. I also just don’t have a lot of iTunes purchases period. In my non-travel life, I rely on Pandora mostly. Anyway, the bottom line is once everyone’s electronic devices have to go in airplane mode – I have no good entertainment available. Therefore my in flight options are typically Skymall, Sky Magazine (that feature on the resurgence of downtown Sacramento looks really good), or whatever book I brought that I’m not really reading and have almost zero desire to even attempt opening.

6. I’m a jerk. This is unfortunate, but I’m not a naturally tolerant, kind person. When the TSA agents tell me to exit the scanner machine and wait at the yellow line, it takes every bit of restraint I can muster not to say, “Would it kill you to say please?” When they tell me that lap tops must come out of my bag, I mutter, “I know.” When I pass by the self-consumed businessmen in first class while boarding the plane, I can barely contain my contempt. When a morbidly obese person occupies the seat next to me, I make a certain facial gesture which even an amateur body language expert could clearly interpret as saying: “Your inability to stop eating is ruining my life.” These are the kinds of reactions you’ll get out of me on a good travel day.

7. I have a weakness for LidsThe only reasonable excuse for buying clothing in an airport would be if a gang of nudists, or any other similarly motivated group of persons, ripped off all of my existing clothes, stole my luggage and left me completely naked outside the PGA Tour Shop, Luxe International or some other tightly themed clothing and accessory store. The merchandise in these places is overpriced, the selection is limited, and so there’s just no valid reason for a human being to ever spend a dollar inside a store of this genre. That being said, if my gate is within 10,000 yards of a Lids hat store I’m likely to liquidate a portion of my 401k to buy a Cubs / Lakers / Cowboys / Pirates / Phillies / or whatever hat is looking good that particular day. A hat that won’t be looking good the next day and that I won’t wear more than 3 times over the next decade before it lands in a Goodwill garbage sack. My weakness for Lids is attributable, in part, to the fact that I started going bald at the age of 23. It’s related, trust me.

8. I refuse to sign up for rewards programs. People that have the discipline to sign up for, understand, keep up with, and take full advantage of rewards programs are – in my estimation – alien life creatures. How does anyone have the discipline or the fortitude to participate in these things? No, Budget rent-a-car lady, I’m not a FastBreak member – so I’m going to have to give you all my information again. I’m going to have sign all those boxes again. I’m going to be pissed again. Yes, I was here last week, and the month before that, and 7 times last year. Yes, I really should sign up to avoid the line – but the more you ask me the less likely I am to do it. I hate you. I hate me. I hate this whole traveling process.