Holiday Travel Weirdness: The Jethead Chronicles.
What is it about holiday season travel that brings out such weirdness? I’m not just talking about the vagrant standing out in front of our favorite Seattle crew hangout with the helpful sign:
He also offered to be my “bodyguard” for $5, but I was with Ben The Dependable Copilot, and Ben’s about 6′ 2″ and weighs in about 220, so I passed. But still.
And even Pike’s Market Place was a little off the game today as well:
So just getting away from the airport doesn’t seem to limit the weirdness this time of year.
Now, at the airport, odd stuff is a given. That’s because odd people still have very little time and so must go by air, I suppose, to share their weirdness with family and friends.
Some folks just don’t get out much, but this being the holiday season, they’re of necessity heading to “somewhere else” and you know what the fastest way is from point “A” to point “B,” right?
Maybe there’s too much of a good thing on either end–eating, drinking, whatever. Problem is, airline crews are kind of stuck in the middle: between wherever “here” and “there” is for the traveling public, our workplace is the waiting room.
I guess folks just make themselves at home, or forget they’re not at home. Either way, our “workplace” is more bizarre than ever during the holidays as a result. The trick is to not only act like you don’t notice (step around the seemingly dead body for whom apparently stretching out on the floor is fine), but to try to act nonchalant when you do–which sometimes is difficult.
The on-board weirdness is predictable, with holiday travelers who are often infrequent flyers. Go ahead, mop the lavatory floor with your socks, Mr. Seldom Travels By Air. I don’t want to even think about it, but I am grateful that at least somebody’s cleaning that outhouse floor, even if the flight attendants are gagging when you do.
Or, go ahead and ask if there’s food on this flight. Has a nice, nostalgic ring to it, especially since there hasn’t been a meal served in coach this century.
I don’t mind for two reasons. One is because no matter how many times airlines, air travel organizations or even travel agents tell you that you need to bring your own food (and water if you want real convenience), you’d rather be surprised.
And second, the cockpit door is locked from the inside, so you can’t see what I’m eating anyway
and really, you wouldn’t want to know anyway. It’s pretty scary up front. Right?
No, honestly, what it is is peaceful. Darling Bride used to come up to the cockpit when we were flying at night and say how it was a cozy cocoon. It is, and I appreciate that–especially compared to what goes on in the back of the plane.
Gives you time and silence to put things into perspective. When you do, you realize that holiday travel is the best: it’s more than just business or even vacations. It’s families; it’s reunions and gatherings and children. It’s not just air travel, it’s yearlong anticipation of children and adults alike.
Our Chief Pilot–a true leader who voluntarily flies on every holiday–uses this example to explain: The CEO of Revlon once said, “We don’t sell cosmetics–we sell hope.” Truly, what we do in these holiday travel weeks is just as magic: it’s hope for many, joy for the kids and for the adults who love them.
Come to think of it, weirdness and all, this is a great time of year to be an airline pilot, to fly families and friends to reunions and holiday gatherings.
I’ll be in the air this week–next week too, looking to make somebody’s travel as quick and easy as possible so they to can be with family and friends for the holiday. Really, it’s the least I can do considering they’ll mop up the lav floor without even knowing it.