This is the beginning of what I hope is a full series on travel. I travel a lot. I mean a lot. In fact I’m writing this on a flight back to Chicago. Most of my flying is because of work and since that takes up most of my week, I like to think I’m a flying enthusiast. Of course, this is from the perspective of a passenger, not a pilot.
The nice thing about liking travel is that once I’m in the plane, it’s never a boring experience. Few can say they look at cities from tens of thousands of feet in the air every week. I like Spring and Fall because my flights back to Chicago generally end up near what’s called “Golden Hour”. That’s a photography term for the hour just before sunset where you can take some fantastic shots due to the diffused light and golden color of the setting sun. Plus, taking off is just magical. You go something like 70 miles an hour (remember, I’m not a pilot) and the pilot pulls a stick back and, voila. You’re in the air where birds, bats, squirrels, and some pigs live.
However it’s not all flying squirrels and pretty sunsets. Taking 6:00AM flights is tough. I have to reprogram my sleep schedule to allow for an attempted nap, it’s not super comfortable, and I usually go to work right after landing so I’m
hideous not exactly my usual photogenic self. Combined with the gauntlet of airport security and having to live out of a suitcase, travel isn’t for everyone.
People usually think I’m some sort of high up executive or fancy business traveler eating caviar and drinking fine wine while leisurely soaring through the clouds to some remote destination to fix a petty business issue and then return home to sleep in my mountains of money. While that’s slightly incorrect, there is a romantic allure to flying somewhere. Whenever I get upgraded or I’m in the front part of a plane, sure I feel like a suave business traveler. Like real life love, however, the romantic notion of flying wears off pretty quickly. It’s somewhat like getting your first car. Amazing for the first few months and then it becomes a necessary mode of transportation.
Another thing to realize is that I don’t get to choose the destination or the type of plane. I’ve traveled to NYC, but I’ve also traveled to Middle of Nowhere, NY. Plus, the plane you’re on makes a big difference. Flying to a place like Boston means you bring your carry-on with you and you sit in a larger plane with about 200 other sleep-deprived business travelers and 1 insane family going on vacation before sunrise. Flying to Middle of Nowhere, NY means you get on a “regional jet”. Meaning you get a tag (color depending on the airlines) and then you “gate check” your luggage, only to wait for it at the freezing cold gate instead of at baggage claim. The only redeeming quality I’ve experienced with smaller jets is that you always get a window or aisle seat because that’s all there are.
Oddly enough, the points, free drinks, and guaranteed do-not-disturb time – while nice – just can’t beat the gorgeous view of the Chicago skyline coming back after a hard week’s work.