This week, for the first time in over 4 years, I boarded a jet plane for business travel. I have to tell you, travel is one aspect of my career I don't miss at all. There was a time in the early Y2K decade that I was in the air almost weekly. I was interested in seeing what has changed and what hasn’t since then.
Of course there were changes in security but my experience with security really hasn’t changed all that much. The new “full body” scanning machines improved the time that it takes to go through security. Even though the machine found an area that had to be checked by hand, that process was efficient and not too intrusive. The new laptop cases made things much better too. I had one of the new “security friendly” cases that open up completely. That meant that I didn’t have to pull my laptop out of its case, but just placed the case opened flat on the scanner belt. I didn’t even realize that I had one of the new-fangled cases, the agent told me! Nice! Later, while at the gate waiting for my plane I was approached by a pair of security agents as they made their rounds. We chatted for a few minutes and I realized that one of the agents was around in my heavy travel days. Once we made the connection, we talked a little about the old days when I saw them once or twice a week. I got caught up on the latest news about some of the folks I used to fly out with every week. Some of them are still frequent fliers but most have either retired or taken jobs that don’t require as much travel. The agents were all business like but they were friendly and eager to help with the travel experience.
My airline experience was about the same as before. The changes that have happened since then, mostly charging for checked baggage did not affect me. I always carry on my baggage, not for the economy of it, but to be sure it arrives with me. All of the flights I had this trip were on the commuter jets where you leave your bags on the ramp at the door to the jet and pick them up there when you arrive. On the down side, on one airline, the in-flight food service was the same as before, on the other, all I got was a soft drink and I noticed the cost of alcohol had skyrocketed over 200%. I had the same experience with cancellations and delays as back in the day; one of my four legs was significantly delayed. Unfortunately, as in the past, the delayed leg was also the last one of the trip, just when travel weariness was setting in and I was ready to be home.Prior to this trip, the closest I have ever been to Omaha was Des Moines, Iowa; 80 miles to the east. I remember describing Des Moines as the “greenest place I’ve ever seen” after my first trip out there. I expected to see the same kind of lush countryside on this trip but instead I was greeted by brown dry grass and withered crops on the ride into town from the airport. When I commented about that, I was told this was due to the great Midwestern drought this year. Later in the week, as I flew over Des Moines on the flight to Chicago on my way home, I could see that Des Moines had suffered the same fate. I felt badly for all my friends and former co-workers there.
One interesting thing about this trip was to see the two baseball stadiums in Omaha that are now forever connected to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team. The ‘Cocks won the last national championship game in Rosenblat Stadium and the first in the new TD Ameritrade Stadium that replaced it two years ago. I saw Rosenblat by mistake, when the GPS app we were using told us to turn right rather than turn left off the interstate. We were past it before I could get my phone out and take a picture. I planned to go the next day and get a picture but it was imploded early in the morning before we could get back to it. I had better luck with TD Ameritrade.
Today, sitting in the comfort of my home office writing this, I am glad that I had the chance to take a trip to a place I have never been before. But I am glad that I no longer fly as much as before. I have now set foot in 32 states and flown over 8 more. Oh MY!