Overhead Binges

Imagine how happy I was to read that American Airlines is going to start charging 15 bucks for every piece of checked luggage.

It’s not because I’ll be paying or anything.  I’ve been broken of the habit of checking my luggage by 1) one lost bag that never returned; 2) two jackets stolen out of another bag; and 3) a husband who always hints that a checked bag is the telltale mark of an amateur traveler.

What I’m dreading is the overhead bin war that’s already going on and will be getting worse.

I’ve seen people try to cram luggage the size of a grand piano in some of those spaces.  They stand in front of the bins, pushing and pulling and sweating and cramming and taking up the whole damned aisle while lines of people wait behind them.  These space hogs take your overhead bin before you even get on the damned plane.

Then — and this is often my favorite part of what we will call The Journey — the space hogs rush up to a bin the moment the plane hits the ground.  They yank their oversized bag out, wheezing and upsetting a cascade of other luggage, almost bonking you on the head unless you take defensive action by throwing yourself out the window or something.

And they say the glamour has gone out of flying.  Well, yes, they do.  From the minute you have to strip off your shoes and jackets and display your ziplock bags of personal items to the meal you’re not served to the moment some self-absorbed creep crushes your skull with his Samsonite bag or runs over your feet with his rollers — yes, the glamour is gone, the magic is dead, The Journey is brutal.

At times like that, I start to wonder what could make The Journey worse — even though I like to think I’m pretty good at adopting a morose, passive, zen-like attitude of acceptance that life is suffering, so what am I kvetching about?  Then I think, oh, yes.  Hell, yes.  It could get a lot worse.  They could allow cellphones on planes so I’d get to overhear screamed, moronic conversations before people knock me unconscious with their luggage.

If we could just reverse the order of those offenses, maybe I wouldn’t mind as much.

(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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