Pretending You Are Luggage

At dinner tonight we started telling miserable airplane travel stories.  Everyone has a least one (or 7,321) so it’s fun to hear some of the really abysmal ones, especially the night before I head to the airport to catch an early morning flight.

We were also talking about various philosophies of life and how to deal with difficult stuff.  After a while the conversation circled back to air travel.  And then I heard the best line of the night.

When I travel I pretend I’m luggage.  From the moment I set foot in the airport, my expectation is that I’ll be treated no better than my luggage gets treated.  As a result, my expectations are so low that any little bit of happiness and politeness brings me great pleasure.”

I laughed out loud.  It was said with a sardonic grin, so the backdrop was framed appropriately.  There was a quiet pause after my laughter.  And then I pondered it – and thought how incredibly right this approach was.

Rather than bitch endlessly about the misery of our air travel experiences, let’s all spend November pretending we are luggage.  The only goal of the plane is to get us from point A to point B.  I guess there are circumstances where this won’t happen, but in most cases we’ll eventually get there.  Time doesn’t really matter to a piece of luggage, nor does comfort.  Politeness?  I’ve shoved many a piece of luggage into a space that it didn’t fit without even saying “excuse me.”  Oh – and I’ve put my smelly feet on my luggage many, many times.

In addition to pretending I’m luggage, I’m also going to make sure I use my super power on every plane flight this month. Luggage is very good at sleeping on planes, as am I.  Luggage sleepers unite.

See you at the airport.

  • funny…

  • It also helps me to think about how amazing it is that we can fly at all.

    "Everybody on every flight should be saying, 'OH MY GOD!!! I'M FLYING!!!' … I'm in a _chair_ in the _sky_!"

    • Yup – plus some of the chairs even have power and Internet. Internet! Moooo.

  • sadly I've been doing this for years. it's the only way to fly. I also simply imagine that I'm a cow on a cattle drive. a prod here and there… "mooooo!" get inside the corral "mooo!"… err I mean airplane. get branded (security). numb your brain out when there's a delay.


    • Moooo. I'm practicing that right now as I get on the DIA train. Moooo.

  • Sorry I can't buy into this one….maybe that's why I suck as a traveler. I hate being lied to, hate paying for lousy customer service and we all know what happens at the end of the cattle drive! Domestically I fly Southwest as much as possible. At least their actions, even in bad situations, would lead me to believe that their objectives are aligned with mine; deliver the passengers (luggage, cattle, etc.) to their designated destination as soon possible and get the plane back in the air with more passengers (luggage, cattle, etc.).

    • I've been flying southwest also and luv it relative to everything else. But – I've always found it easier to accept reality than deny it.

      Just heard that the threat level in the the airport is orange and the scanner is down at the gate on united so we will have to check in manually.

      • It seems to me that the threat level hasn't been lower than Orange since the level was invented!

        I've used the cow metaphor for years to fly happily. Being a flying cow is the only way to fly.

        If I could develop your superpower, I could be a sleeping flying cow and that would be even more enjoyable. 🙂

        • I was definitely a sleeping flying cow today. Hopefully the methane production wasn't too much for my seatmate.

          • Do I smell a concept for a new product or a Saturday Night Live skit? Hard to know.

    • It took a little while, but Southwest is growing on me. Their staff really is friendly, and not just while they're at work. Last week they put me up in a hotel when I couldn't get back in to Denver during the snowstorm, and I rode to the airport with a few of their flight attendants and pilots in the hotel shuttle the next morning. The whole way there they were telling stories and joking, which was quite a bit different from some of the shuttle rides I've shared with employees of other airlines.

      And kudos to them for kicking this kid and his mother off the plane. They should get a standing ovation for that one.

      My biggest gripe with them is that it can be so difficult to fly directly to your destination with them. Layovers and stops along the way are almost mandatory.

  • David Cohen

    As long as they tag me as priority first, I’m cool with it.

  • For a light moment– United Breaks Guitars. Funny but not-funny. Widely used as an example of how to damage a brand by failing to understand the customer. Just fun to listen to. For now, have fun and be glad we're not Dave's luggage.

    And I often hear echoes of Tom Waits when I travel (Tom is *such* a great travel companion). Here's the link to Foreign Affair, and the quote:

    "…planes and trains and boats and buses
    characteristically evoke a common attitude of blue
    unless you have a suitcase and a ticket and a passport
    and the cargo that they're carrying is you…"

    See. You really are luggage.
    See you at the airport.

  • Nick

    does that mean you have to check your fluids in a separate ziplock bag? might be tough 🙂

    • Hah!  Yeah, I usually travel dehydrated.

  • I think I fall somewhere in between, most of the time. I do enter a mindset of "okay, I'm in their hands now, nothing I can do" — but in return for my being passive, I still expect them to do their part.

    Having flown through quite a few airports (though probably not as many as Brad), I'm convinced that we're very, very lucky to live near DIA. The TSA staff is actually friendly, even as they yell out stupid rules over and over. So are most of the gate staff (with a few glaring exceptions, like Midwest Airlines.) I don't know what makes DIA different, but other airports could learn a lot.

    • Despite all the complaints I used to hear about DIA, it really is a great airport. A few of the things that I think contribute (and places that are absolutely awful at these same things):

      – It's really easy to get around. (Houston)
      – The trains are fast and run frequently. (Houston)
      – Security is divided into families/inexperienced, experienced, expert, and 1st class lines. Doesn't seem like a big deal until you start going through airports where everyone is thrown in together. (Albuquerque)
      – Free wireless. (San Francisco)
      – Electric plugs are available. (Albuquerque)
      – The airport has a cohesive design, not like a lot of the ones with random additions. (Houston)
      – You can travel between concourses without going through security. (I'm talking to you, Miami International)
      – Lots of moving sidewalks.
      – You don't have to walk from one end of the airport to the other. (Miami, again)

      One thing I haven't found yet at DIA is a reasonably priced, good tasting restaurant. If anyone has suggestions here, let me know.

  • My wife and I are flying to Montana this December for a wedding (leave early friday morning and arrive home late sunday night) so I hope to God everything goes alright – that next week is finals week for my wife…

  • I was on a UAL the other day that was brutal….Finally got up, walked to the back of the plane, and made a comment to the aging flight attendant that the flight was brutal. She looked at me and said, "Haven't you heard we have a new class of service?"

    I bit and said I hadn't heard that…

    And she replied, "Yes, economy minus…"…

    There you have it as they say…

  • airline-guy

    There does have to be some expectation setting.

    Money coming into an airline:
    Average domestic airfare, now: Around $300
    Average domestic airfare 4Q 2000: $407

    Biggest cost for an airline…fuel:
    Crude Oil Per Barrel, now: $80
    Crude Oil Per Barrel, 4Q 2000: $29

    That has to net out somewhere. Airline's costs are up, yours are down. No free lunch, sorry.

  • Yeah but flying is no worse than it was in 2000!

  • It's a good life lesson. Keep expectations low. Let everyone surprise you. Half of life's disappointments comes from our own, unrealistic expectations of others. (expectation of ourselves should always be high, we control them) but for those outside of our control, keep em low.

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