IMG_0216So.   Air flight is awful.

I don’t remember it being awful when I was younger, but it’s awful now whatever I think I remember.

I used to get tickets and worry until I had a boarding pass in my hand.

That all ended a long time ago.  Boarding passes are scarcely a guarantee of anything any more.  And I’m not even talking about airline customers being dragged off flights while people are shooting video.  I’m not even talking about the security changes that happened after 9-11.  Not talking about not getting “free” peanuts on some flights, or being gouged to pay more than your ticket price because you’re taking your luggage.  Or about airlines badgering you about joining this or that special flyers snob program, or overselling flights, or not having enough planes or parts to do anything if something somewhere goes sideways.

I might be talking about all those things put together, along with the random circumstances that are involved in moving yourself farther than a ten or twelve hour drive.  That’s how much I’ve given up on air travel. If I have a business meeting or cartooning event or anything less than ten or twelve hours away under my own power, I’m not flying.

Because I no longer trust the airlines to get me there.

Increasingly over the last 16 years, I’ve had to scramble, huck, and hustle to change flights partway into a trip.  And when I say “I”, of course I mean that some poor gate agent, whose job has increasingly become putting out the metaphorical fires of people who aren’t where they’ve paid to be and don’t know how they’re supposed to get there.  Connecting flights are monstrous these days.  And by “these days” I mean for the last few years.  Because the latest indignity happened to me Wednesday.

I was on pins and needles because of a screwed-up farce of a trip that happened a few months ago.   That one left me wandering my hometown airport for five hours while delays piled up and eventually landed me at my destination at 2 a.m. with no luggage.  And this time, on my way to Portland from Memphis, after fiddling and diddling on the computer once it was seen that there was, of course, no chance of making the connecting flight they’d sold me, I was told, “Your second best chance is to take a flight to Dallas, find a hotel room, and I can book you on a flight from there to Portland tomorrow morning.  Oh, wait.  That just filled up.   Well, your first best chance is still just to go home now, and come back tomorrow and try again on a morning flight. That’s at 7:15.  Better get here a couple of hours early.  Morning flights are awful.”

I missed my very first NCS board meeting.  And Karaoke the night before.

I hate air flight.