Sunday, November 18, 2007

Getting There From Here

I know from blaring headlines like this one that President Bush wants to fix our holiday travel mess. And I know from headlines like this that people are so glad the President has resolved to fix something--anything--during his two terms in office, that no one has bothered to ask why he set the bar so low.

But holiday travel snares are what the president set his heart on. And here I am stuck on American Airlines flight 1773 from Dallas to Los Angeles three hours after boarding, and we haven’t even left the airport yet.

No one could have anticipated this.

OK, I can’t blame the president for my travel troubles; we’re grounded by some mechanical malfunction. But the whole thing strikes me as patently ridiculous.

Last night I picked up a friend at our Nashville “International” airport; her flight was 30 minutes late. Today Mr. Beale and I are flying from Nashville to LAX. Boarding for the DFW-LAX leg was already delayed one hour because our plane wasn’t cleaned up from its last service (who knew flights from Honolulu were so dirty?). When we finally taxied down the runway we had to immediately turn around because of a problem with a hydraulic rudder. We’ve been here three hours and no word on how much longer this will take.

Interestingly, Terry Bradshaw is also on our flight. The Travel Goddess hands out her justice to celebrity and peon alike.

Shit happens, which makes me wonder why President Bush made a big show of trying to do anything about it to begin with. I mean really, a live, televised announcement? Are you kdding me? Isn't that reserved for wars and stuff?

I suspect this was his “I feel your pain” moment, though with Air Force One tanked up and ready to go at a moment’s notice, we all know he doesn’t and neither do his fat cat friends scooting around the country in their Lear jets.

Of course, I don’t begrudge the president his plane or the super-wealthy their spoils of privilege. Just don’t try to tell me you understand what it’s like for us plebes trying to get home for the holidays:
"Airports are very crowded, travelers are being stranded and flights are delayed, sometimes with a full load of passengers sitting on the runway for hours," the president said in televised remarks from White House's Roosevelt Room. These problems "carry some real costs for the country, not just in the inconvenience they cause, but in the business they obstruct and family gatherings they cause people to miss," he said.

It took me 12 hours to get from Nashville to Los Angeles today. So what else is new. Trying to milk this to boost one’s polls, however, must be a new low.