Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring: Thoughts of airports...

Spring. The weather is warmer, the birds are singing, and it's time to start traveling! For those of you not in academic medicine, the year has a distinct rhythm. Very few meetings seem to happen between mid-November and March. I believe this is because of family holidays and bad weather during these months. Once spring hits, it's open season on meetings.

It's not just the chance to present science and eat out with your peers. No, committees, study sections, advisory groups, and specialty interest groups all seem to want to fly somewhere they are not. It is like some sort of weird, non-migratory behavior. We generally avoid blizzards this time of year, but thunderstorms can still ground planes and thwart the best planned travel. It pays to travel with entertainment - books, movies, and other toys can make 9 hours at O'Hare seem like 9 hours, not 18! I know, I've done it a few times.

For those of us who log a bit of air travel each year, the airport time can be the worst part. There are signs all over the airport about the 3-1-1 rule: carry-on liquids need to be 3 oz max, you put them in a 1 quart ziplock bag, and each passenger gets 1 bag. If you want more information about this, click on the picture- it will take you to the TSA website with more than you every could want to know! 3-1-1 has been the case since September 2006. Even so, there are still people in line who try to carry on big bottles of stuff. DON'T BE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE. YOU JUST LOOK DUMB.

A number of airlines now charge for checked bags. I believe this is a mistake; I would charge for any carry-on that won't fit under the seat, and give that second carry-on bag as a bonus to my frequent fliers. After all, stowing carry-on luggage is the biggest bottleneck in boarding the plane. When I rule the world things will be different, but in the meantime this does not mean that ANYTHING can be carried onto the plane to avoid these fees! I've seen people trying to put king-size bedding sets in the overhead compartment. It's insane!

Finally, watch where you're going in the airport. I am amazed at how many people just seem to have no clue that someone is in front of/beside/behind them. Try to be polite and considerate; someone will be delighted with your attitude. Especially at O'Hare.

That's enough rambling and ranting for one day. Feel free to say hello if you see me in the Red Carpet Club at O'Hare or Denver or one of the other places I go this year. I will have my nose buried in a really good book.

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