Plane Talk About The Flight Home

We’re on our way home from Las Vegas. I’m typing this from 39,000 feet somewhere over the vast void that is the middle of America.

Helaine obtained a late checkout, so we left the hotel at 2:30, heading first to refill the rental car and then return it to the “Giant Rental Car Building,” newly opened south of the airport. All the car rental companies share this facility and the shuttle buses that leave every few minutes. This part of the experience, coming and going, was painless.

Oh – there is one thing. Our car had Sirius Satellite Radio. We discovered that sometime around day five and quite by accident. Since Dollar pays for it, and I wanted to use it, you’d think there would have been a placard or sticker advertising its availability. Even when I hit the right button (by mistake) there was only a hint of what I’d unlocked.

We did get to hear a little Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn, Mark Goodman and former Philly favorite, Michael Tierson. I always had a thing for Martha.

Sunday afternoon at McCarren Airport is a medley of your favorite lines. We stood in line to get our baggage weighed and tagged. We stood in line for security. Helaine stood in line for food. And, of course, we sat in line to get our choice of seats on the plane.

AMAZING, BUT TRUE STORY ALERT: As we checked in, the agent asked for our heaviest bag first. On the scale it went. Southwest only allows (in my family the word ‘only’ must be included) 50 pounds per bag. The bag weighed 49.95 pounds! When the agent put the tag on the bag, the weight rose to exactly 50.00 pounds. None of us had ever seen anything like it.

This was probably the last time we’ll be sitting on the floor, holding our place in line, in the Southwest terminal. Next month they unveil a new, modified boarding system which will reward those who are anal retentive and get their boarding passes within the first few minutes after they become available. The punctual will then get their choice of the best seats!

From the cockpit, this is the pilot.” How many times do you want to hear those words on a flight?

Why ask?

We wanted to sleep. He wanted to speak. “Folks, it’s going to be bumpy over the Rockies.” “Folks, we’re over the Rockies and it’s bumpy.” “Folks we’re passed the Rockies and I’m turning off the seat belt sign.”

There were a few more announcements. I forget exactly what they were, except Iowa City was off to the left during one and “we’re over Chicago,” on the other. The “peddling as fast as we can” line was only funny the first time.

Considering the hour of this flight, I’m surprised the cabin lights were never dimmed. Though, with chatterbox driving, the point was probably moot.

Our flight left Las Vegas 45 minutes late. The plane was there on time, but we waited for connecting passengers from Oakland. Having been on the receiving end of that kind of largess in the past, I didn’t mind being on the giving side tonight.

All Southwest flights are in 737s. It’s funny how times have changed, because Southwest now uses that as a selling point in its ads. You never fly in a little plane on Southwest. A few years ago, when the domestic carriers used wide bodied jets of many more routes, Southwest’s claim would have been laughed off the TV. Now, when the alternative is a 30, 40 or 50 seat regional jet, Southwest has a point.

I have spent much of the last few hours trying to figure out a way to allow fully reclining seats on a 737. Maybe if you remove the overhead bins and create an upper-lower configuration for the seats? There’s got to be a way, and whichever airline does it first, wins.

It’s 1:00 AM now. We’re still in the air. Will there even be baggage handlers when we arrive?

I so want to go to sleep.

Getting Excited About Vacation

Every summer, we go to Las Vegas. I know – Vegas in July – how wise a weatherman can I be? The temperature is often right around 120&#176! But, we love it nonetheless.

I have the details of last year’s trip available on line.

This year we’re going with another couple and their daughter, who is around Steffie’s age. My parents will also be there, along with my sister and brother-in-law, my Cousin Michael from California, and his wife and young son. Whew!

Helaine is incredibly organized, and on a vacation like this, that really pays off. She has already gotten some show tickets and has worked on our logistics, including the car rental.

Every year when we go, Helaine brings the sheet from the computer which lays out our reservation. Astoundingly, what the rental company has and what we booked are often different. The difference is never in our favor!

Helaine’s dedication to task has gotten us one ‘luxury’ that I would have never even thought of. She always asks for, and receives, line passes for dinner. I know that sounds like a small thing, but some of the dinner sites at the Mirage can have huge, long lines. This pass gets you in first! Wow.

We’re staying at the Mirage again . This year, they’ve added high speed Internet access. That’s a good thing, because I like posting to the blog and putting photos in my gallery. They’ve also redone their buffet. The Mirage Buffet has always been a favorite, but now it’s new and improved. Well, I’ve been told it’s improved. Whether it is or not will be an opinion I’ll form later. It’s certainly going to be more expensive.

I have threatened for the last few years to take a day and drive to the Grand Canyon. It’s just far enough to make a one day drive doable – though with some difficulty. Maybe this will be the year. My parents have never been. It is an experience everyone should have at least once. It’s so majestic that words cannot prepare you for what you’ll see.

I’m also looking to spend a lot of time playing poker. The past few weeks online haven’t been very good, though we’re still up over $300 over the past 9 months. I felt so in control at Foxwoods a few weeks ago that I am anxious to play ‘live’ again.

It’s still nearly two months away – but I’m excited already.