Part Two - air travel without computers!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Friday, July 16, 2004

I joined the school of fish and got back into the sardine can (rental car bus transport) for the trip to the airport. Walking across the street to the terminal I noticed it looked unusually busy outside. Inside it was even worse. People were everywhere. Lines were long and wrapped around poles, signs and out the door.
Having a keen eye from years of travel experience, I noticed after about 5 minutes that there were no agents at the Delta ticket counter. Frontier had agents, United had agents (no money, but agents), Southwest had agents but Delta had no agents. Even at 5:00 a.m. in the morning, I realized that this was the cause of the long lines at Delta. Eventually word spread that the Delta computers were down.

Lines kept growing, people were grumbling and it was soon 5:30. My flight is at 6:25. Finally a young fellow appeared in the familiar gray, blue and maroon uniform and told us what we already knew. "There is a bit of a delay". No Kidding! He did tell us something we didn't know though. He told us we were going to have the privilege of watching delta re-enact the methods of processing passengers when the airline was founded 75 years ago. The agents appeared with boxes of blank tickets and a gross of pens. They proceeded to handwrite boarding passes. Each one actually did an admirable job. The lines started moving and people went on their way to the next hurdle - SECURITY.

Apparently the regular security staff called in sick and they were replaced with a Gestapo force imported from some leftover foreign dictatorship. One lady continually barked "photo ID's out, boarding passes ready!" every other minute. One poor couple somehow missed hearing her last 15 repetitions of "Boarding passes out, photo ID's ready!" When security lady found out they weren't prepared, she asked them why they were not paying attention. She also said the long slow lines were because of people like them - that and world hunger and famines in Africa, and even highway litter in California. Oh the shame of it all! This couple, this scourge of humanity spent their remaining time in line with their heads hung low and the weight of the world's ills on their shoulders.

Well, if that wasn't bad enough, and worsened (if possible) security lady's mood, she hadn't seen anything yet. It was now my turn!

I handed her my boarding pass (fortunately written with one of the gross of pens, not crayon) and my passport. She looked at me like I was another planet (not too unusual for people to look at me that way) or maybe Arkansas which would have been unforgivable. I told her about the 75 year anniversary celebration going on at the Delta counter and thought my next seat would not be on an airplane but in the airport lockup. She ordered me to stand still and called someone to her. They discussed something. She was angry. I held out my wrists for the handcuffs and she suddenly said "Move ahead, you are holding things up here". The next guard in line barked orders with a strong German accent. "You move to that line". "No, not you". Next "get in that line - move quickly".

I ended up behind a family traveling with one small child crying child and its entire bedroom contents, except for the crib. Maybe that was in one of the large suitcases. So I wait and I watch. They take the baby out of the stroller. They remove the dozen or so tote bags from the handles and toys and other assorted items from the stroller. They place all these things in the bins on the table along with the stroller and car seat, and baby and purse and tote bags and shoes and belts. NO WAIT. GET THE BABY before it reaches the X-ray. Well the baby was snatched from the conveyor belt just in time to prevent it from becoming its own radioactive, glow in the dark night light. The line started moving again.

Then the family was told that all passengers with a hand written boarding pass had to have their luggage searched and a thorough personal search.

When my turn came I asked for the "good looking fellow over there" to perform my search. However, as luck would have it, he was either saved or scared. I was allowed to pas in tact. Darn!.

Even with much confusion at the gate, the plane departed only hour late. The gate agent kept track of passenger boarding with a high tech method of post it notes and hash marks to keep count. However, after some initial orderly boarding I believe order was dismissed. After about half of the passengers were on board, the attendants announced people could just sit wherever they wanted to sit. I think a couple of fights broke out towards the back of the plane, but after my third Bailey's and coffee I didn't care anymore and just ignored the commotion. All this fun and it was only 7:00 a.m. Thank goodness I am going home. California is glad too!

Even though our flight was direct to Orlando, it was scheduled to stop in Salt Lake City and then continue on to Orlando and we did not have to change planes. Because of the late start we had a late arrival into Salt Lake. Those of us who were traveling on to Orlando were asked to allow people with short connection times get off the plane first. No problem. I was staying on the plane. While these passengers were getting of the plane the captain announced that this plane was now going to Denver and the Orlando Passengers had to get off. So those of us going to Orlando gathered our things and started to leave. Then an attendant said "No, the plane is going to Orlando after all". We headed back to our seats. Then a gate agent boarded and said we had to get off and check in again because of the celebration re-enactment in Sacramento. We gathered our items once again and started moving towards the front of the plane. Next the new pilot boarded and said we didn't have to leave because he was flying to Orlando. So, we went back to our seats again. Watch next Sunday's America's Funniest Home Videos. I am sure someone was taking pictures.

Take off and on to Orlando. Stupid movie, crying baby and home sweet home.
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