Frazzled Flyers Finish Last

Back when airlines didn’t charge you for a piece of luggage to get sent to Los Angeles when you were going to Philadelphia, I used to pack my large suitcase to the gills and not worry about it too much. I would just have my small purse to tote onto the plane and this worked out fine.

In that small purse was a place for my cell phone, money, my ID and boarding pass. Now that the airlines have messed with that, flying is not so convenient anymore. Carrying on has cramped my flying lifestyle a bit. No longer can I stuff everything into a super-size suit case and have the luxury of a purse that actually has some room in it.

Take my last trip around Christmastime. I now had to haul my much smaller piece of luggage, a canvas bag, a coat and a purse onto the plane. It didn’t seem too problematic. At first.

I put the canvas bag on top of the rolling suitcase and wrapped its handles around the handle of the suitcase, as I’d seen others do. I carried my purse and my coat. But then the coat got to be a hassle carrying, so I sort of situated that on top of my bundle. That’s when the problems began.

Dying of thirst, I got a bottle of water. I think airports pump dry air out so you’re encouraged to pay $12 for a bottle of water. Not to mention, it’ll be 9 a.m. and you find yourself wanting a stiff drink. Anyway, the coat did not want to stay put on top of the pile and at some point I ran it over, causing a huge tear. Great. I stuffed it back on top and shoved the water bottle in the canvas bag.

I was progressing nicely until I noticed the water bottle had opened and I had left a stream half a mile long and I heard the announcement about a clean up crew being called. I bought another bottle of water, vowing to be more careful.

I was about to go through security. I needed, of course, my driver’s license and my boarding pass. I had forgotten to have this out and ready as I normally do because of the distractions of the extra stuff I had to carry. I now had to search through the coat, the canvas bag, and the purse, cursing my way through. People behind me were getting annoyed. They of course, had their stuff in their hands, ready to go.

Flustered, swearing and sweating as the TSA agents observed me, I knew I was now a good candidate for a strip search. I finally found the stuff, buried at the bottom of the canvas bag. The agent was glancing at my license, at me, and back at my license again.

“Ma’am, step over here,” the agent said, after I went through the X-ray machine.


“We can do this the hard way if you prefer.”

“It’s been a rough day, dude, please give me a break.”

“Have you ever had a pat down before?”

“Yes, every morning before I wake up one of my cats gives me one, why?”

He gave me a stern look and called a female agent over.

I got through that and felt like the TSA agent and I could now be classified as lovers. And of course, now I had to reorganize all the stuff once again. Aware of people behind me, I shoved everything haphazardly into a pile on the suitcase and made my way.

I arrived at the gate and realized I had again put my boarding pass into some unknown location. Tearing everything apart again and feeling overly stressed, I placed the water bottle in my lap while searching. Naturally, I hadn’t learned the first time and it wasn’t closed enough and it poured onto my lap.

I heard my zone being called for boarding and dumped everything in the canvas bag out on the floor. Ah, there it is. I shoved everything back into the canvas bag on the suitcase but had my purse on my shoulder.

“Ma’am, you have to consolidate the purse with the other bag before you board,” said the agent.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I am.” And she looked it.

I angrily shoved the purse into the canvas bag and she gave me a dirty look what with my torn coat and wet pants and overall frazzled appearance.

Finding my seat, I attempted to heave everything in the compartment but my purse. It wasn’t fitting so I attempted to shove the canvas bag and purse under my seat, as per the instructions.

Then they made the announcement to turn off all devices. Oh, no.

With all the juggling of objects and papers, where on earth was my cell phone??

The passenger next to me looked at me understandingly when I dumped the contents of the canvas bag onto his lap.

“I hope you don’t mind – I just don’t have any more patience today for this bullsh**.”

He smiled knowingly and tried to help me locate the cell phone. You meet the nicest people flying.

Not finding it, I figured it was either in the luggage, my coat pocket, or in the terminal somewhere.

The flight attendant was staring me down.

“We can’t take off until you find your cell phone and turn it off.”

“Bite me!”

“Excuse me?”

Everything in the overhead compartment had been neatly arranged by the flight attendant, expertly packed like a puzzle. I began pulling it apart and some of the stuff hit some passengers in the head and there were complaints and “ouches” and people were staring at me.

Aha! There was the cell phone, in the coat pocket.

Unfortunately, security had been called and I had been deemed an unruly passenger and was now being escorted off the plane.

I decided it would be better just to drive to Delaware to see my relatives, where I could happily pack my car with whatever I wanted, didn’t have to use the clear bags and the three ounce rule, didn’t have to get intimate with a TSA agent, and most importantly, could have my cell phone turned on, within six inches of me at all times. Oh, and a cup holder for my water.

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