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Random thoughts composed at 30,000 feet over the Atlantic seaboard

Poor Mr. Duckie is, alas, a flightless bird. But "here" he manages to soar faster and higher than most real ducks ever dream about.

Do ducks dream? And would they dream about flying at 30,000 feet? At over 500 MPH?

The one thing I always look for when flying are baseball fields. They are, to me, the most recognizable landmarks from the air. When I see the distinctive tan diamonds on a field of green, I know that I am close to landing.

I've flown Southwest every time I've ever traveled, but one. And I find I prefer it. They are a bit more relaxed, a bit more informal, than most other airlines. They also have a safety record for their passengers that is the envy of other major carriers. (Not so great for those outside the plane, but pretty good for those of us on the inside.

OK, it's offcial. Electric Mayhem is a wonderful machine, but its battery life leaves a bit to be desired. I'll finish this and post it later.

Update: I just found out that the friendly couple next to me are a professor and wife from my alma mater. I never had any of his classes, but we'd met once or twice. Naturally, I remembered him better than he I, but he filled me in on a couple of my former classmates. One of them is now a medium to high mucky-muck with the National Weather Service, running a station in New Hampshire.

I remember a little about Scott. Suddenly I don't feel quite so safe in the air. Someone of my generation is in charge of forecasting the weather I'm flying through? Someone who went to the same college I did?

Man, I hope he took away more than I did.

Comments (19)

"Do ducks dream? And would ... (Below threshold)

"Do ducks dream? And would they dream about flying at 30,000 feet? At over 500 MPH?"

Of course they do. Just ask Jonathan Livingstone Duck.

"I've flown Southwest every... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

"I've flown Southwest every time I've ever traveled, but one. And I find I prefer it. They are a bit more relaxed, a bit more informal, than most other airlines."

Gee, that sounds like a well informed opinion!

Only one non-Southwest experience qualifies you to talk about "most other airlines?" You really need to get out more.

OK, it's offcial. Electr... (Below threshold)

OK, it's offcial. Electric Mayhem is a wonderful machine, but its battery life leaves a bit to be desired. I'll finish this and post it later.

Update: I just found out that the friendly couple next to me are a professor and wife from my alma mater.

Just curious. If your battery had had a longer life would you have learned about your seat neighbors?

Southwest definately is mor... (Below threshold)

Southwest definately is more relaxed than the other airlines. And this is from a guy who flew more than 100,000 actual miles in one year. I have sampled over 20 airlines from around the world (or more accurately, I could name 20 I had flown of the top of my head, it is likely to be much more than that).

There was a news story pre-2001 about a man who tried to hijack a southwest flight in Texas. I remember think at the time that had to be an incredibly bad idea. It would be somewhat akin to going into a honky tonk and saying you were in charge and everyone should stop drinking. Sure enough, a couple of passengers nodded to each other, stood up and hit the guy. They then used their belts (no word on the size of the belt buckles) to tie him up. I suspect they got their belts back when the hijacker was rescued...I mean turned over to the law enforcement.

I personally don't like southwest because they reward people with more time to wait vs frequent flyers. Frequent flyers can get a free drink (not bad), but if they don't get to the gate early usually end up sitting in the middle seat. Other air lines will upgrade frequent flyers to first class (better seat and free drinks, a wining combination) and even without an upgrade will help you reserve a better seat in coach (whatever better means to you). Southwest gives their best seats to the people who show up so early they can spend an hour or two repacking their matching luggage monogramed with their favorite grocery stores name.

Jay, I too enjoy looking at... (Below threshold)

Jay, I too enjoy looking at baseball fields when they are visible from the air.

The only time I've recogniz... (Below threshold)

The only time I've recognized baseball fields is, like you, when landing. But I've never really much noticed them in daylight. But at night- wow! They light up great. And it's nice to see how many there are. And I love baseball.

I prefer waking up in the m... (Below threshold)
Ken L.:

I prefer waking up in the morning. Except the time I didn't.

Re: SWA seating policy... (Below threshold)

Re: SWA seating policy

I enjoy the fact that I get rewarded for being obsessively early to my plane. I hate standing in long lines, worrying if I am even going to make it to my flight. So I arrive early to breeze through lines, regardless of the airline, (and benefit with good seat choice on SWA) as well as time to stretch out with my plain black soft carry-on luggage as a pillow and read. Or talk to my fellow early arrivers, who rarely use grocery bags to carry-on, unless its from the tax-free shop.

Someone has a grumpy High Mileage Club attitude, or a bad case of The Thursdays.

I lived in Vegas for several years, and traveled frequently. The SW flights home were always the best: Passengers in a partying mood, crew singing and joking, friendly skies plus. I was happy to be returning home (sometimes after long and nasty deployments), and enjoyed the camaraderie. Distinctly lacking on other flights into LSV. The flights out were appropriately subdued and quiet - the other passengers nursing their losses and hangovers while I mulled my coming months' work. In the nice cheap seat (government does not pay for anything but economy) exactly where I wanted to be cause I got there early.

AnotherJohn:Throug... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:


Throughout the 90's, I was a 100k member every year (United). I've flown all the major domestic carriers and many foreign airlines. Based on the man-years I've spent trying to work, sleep, or get shitfaced in airline seats, I would rate Southwest as the worst--or at least tied with US Scare and the defunct Eastern.

Throughout the 70's, 80's and 90's, Alaska Airlines was my favorite for trips up and down the west coast. They were relaxed, funny, reliable, and they served decent food.

But for coast to coast trips, or overseas, United usually treated me better than anyone. Even in coach, I recieved the best of service. I usually got my choice of seats if I called the day before--which usually meant the exit row at the head of coach. On a 767, I usually had both seats to myself (or all 3 on a 757). I had more legroom than my 6'3" frame needed. Since I was near the galley, the flight attendants would always give me the good wine from First Class instead of charging me for the little screw top bottles of swill they sell in Coach. I had plenty of room to spread my work, and I was always the first to deplane. Perfect service--and in COACH!

Overseas trips in First Class are another story. In the nose cone of a 747, furnished with full sleeper seats. A perpetual self-serve bar with opened Dom Perignon, California chardonnays, good cabernets, and some national drink of the destination countries. Cheese platters, Ms. Fields cookies, Godiva chocolates. Self serve--all the time. And the meal services were outstanding! Great, authentic Japanese food (including jellyfish) that is far better than anything I've had on JAL or ANA. I never thought I would eat anything raw on an airplane--but I did and liked it!--and survived. Trans-Atlantic flights didn't offer Japanese food, but it was always the same, fresh, high quality.

So, although United might not be as relaxed as Southwest, I've certainly been far more relaxed in United seats (or Lufthansa, British Airways, JAL, ANA, Delta, American, Cayman Airways, Pan Am, Western, Air Cal, PSA, Northwest, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Continental, Alaska, TWA, Aero Mexico, Mexicana, America West, Hawaiian Air, Horizon, Marks Air, Branif, Frontier, Qantas, Channel Flying, Ward Air or Air Canada), than on Southwest.

See, I don't care about the airline's state of mind, it's my own ass that needs relaxation. I don't get that packed in the middle seat of a first-come, first-serve flying school bus that hauls annoying inexperienced travelers around idiotically indirect and time consuming routes.

No open thread, so I'll pas... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

No open thread, so I'll pass this on here, but it looks like conservative Calderon has won the recount and will be Mexico's next president. In typical lefty fashion, his opponent is vowing to take the matter to the courts and to the streets.

Epador,Yes, the So... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:


Yes, the Southwest flights between LA and Vegas are entertaining--and they're the exception. A Friday night flight to Vegas is the best. That's when all the LA strippers are heading to Vegas where they can pick up a little extra cash. Being packed like sardines with them is GREAT fun!!! But they're not so fun to be around on Sunday's return flight--the skank factor gets pretty ripe around then.

For a 40-minute flight, Southwest is fine. For 5-6 hours, forget about it!

United the only other airli... (Below threshold)

United the only other airline I enjoy. I particularly enjoy channel 9 audio to keep up on weather, delays, and what else is flying about up there with us. Perhaps my leaner 6'1" frame doesn't have as much trouble with SW seating (UAL is definitely roomier), but the UAL pricing, mileage gimmicks, etc. are no more a turn on than skanky smells and sights. I stay out of LAX connections in general. Its not just the "strippers" who are ripe.

Jet Blue gets a big thumb's... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

Jet Blue gets a big thumb's up from me. (Though I don't care much for their French-made Airbus planes versus good old Boeing planes made--at least in part--here in the Northwest and across America.) My wife and I fly back and forth from Seattle to NYC several times a year to see family and the flights are generally on time. They're also very quiet (as we're on the red eye on the way out to NYC) and the flight attendants provide good and amiable service.

The best thing about Jet Blue, IMHO, are the DirecTVs on the back of every seat. You have about 35 channels or so to choose from, one of which is your current position and speed in flight (i.e, over Helena, MT at 498mph). I'm a nervous flyer, so I use the flight position channel to see where we are, then switch over to the Weather Channel and look at the radar to see if we're going to run into bumpy weather. If not, cool. I can relax. If not, I can at least know we'll be out of it soon. (Odd, I know, but it relaxes me knowing where headed for weather, especially at night.)

Great prices on Jet Blue, too! We fly RT for as little as $300-350; sometimes less, sometimes more. And we've flown for much less than that on several occasions.

I, too, prefer United altho... (Below threshold)

I, too, prefer United although having to check baggage at O'Hare can be a nightmare. When it comes to having to fly coach to Europe, nothing beats British Airways.

You get menus with a choice of entrees, a coach amenity kit equal to or better than what I've received travelling United Business, and tea service as well as coffee. It's heaven.

My brother is a commerical pilot, and he used call Airbus "Scare-Bus". That is until he started flying A319's for Independence Air (a great service-oriented airline that sadly lost out in the 'Air Wars'). Nothing like flying-by-wire with a joystick intead of a yoke!

I prefer to keep my feet pl... (Below threshold)

I prefer to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.

I prefer to keep my feet... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

I prefer to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.

Where you're more likely to be hit by a bus in the crosswalk or be in a car crash or be electrocuted in your bathroom or be attacked by rabid, carnivorous squirrels...

(Dontcha hate it when people say stuff like this? I'm in a plane...at 30,000 feet...traveling at a rate of speed that I was not meant to travel at...this...is...not...natural! Hence why I slug down a couple of beers before boarding any flight. :-)

Peter F.:I've neve... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

Peter F.:

I've never tried Jet Blue--but that Direct TV sounds pretty cool!

I used to split my living between New York and LA, and I worked in all states and several countries--but that stopped in 2000. Now I rarely travel East/West or overseas. If I were still a frequent flier--especially on my own dime--I'm sure I'd be a Jet Blue fan, too.

I've never tried Jet Blu... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

I've never tried Jet Blue--but that Direct TV sounds pretty cool!

I feel like Homer Simpson though when, as sometimes happens, the Direct TV connection on board fails or the pilots have trouble getting them to work.

Homer: "I am not crazy. It's the TV that's crazy. Aren't you, TV?"

And when it comes back on:

Homer: "Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover."

That's pretty much my reaction. Sad and juevenile, but I need it.

... (Below threshold)






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