Unless you are at least my age or just a tad bit younger, you would have no concept of the cockpit or what air travel once looked like. That is before terrorists intervened and literally screwed up the entire experience. For decades it seems the airline industry changed very little except for flight pricing fluctuations which have always been a constant. But that was easily looked over, as long as it got you from point A to point B. Now, we consider ourselves lucky to get to the plane with a shred of dignity. Even though the odds are greatly against anything actually happening on your flight or mine, it’s the perception that something could go wrong and with so many vivid images in our mind, not only do we know something could happen, we have seen what it looks like.
And that’s where the dreams of flight for many ended. Years ago, we all heard of airline disasters. Hell, there were even hijackings that took place when I was a little kid. I recall seeing the masked gunmen standing on the stairs on the tarmac while frantic people tried to meet every demand that was asked. Those, I guess you could call them, in an absurd sense, were the good days. And then, someone had to stop demanding things and simply wanted to make a point. Sometimes as we’ve seen lately, with no explanation. How do you translate this to a young child? How do you get on a plane and not look at everyone around you with suspicion and disdain? It, in essence, brings us to a level of which we hoped we had surpassed generations ago. Am I a racist? No. Do I think that everyone with a burqa or headdress is a terrorist? Of course not! Yet, I find myself on nearly every flight, wondering and observing. Because of the selfish few, the many must suffer.
Kids Flew the Airplane…sort of!
I would have loved to have my daughters visit the cockpit in mid-flight. I remember it as a kid, very vividly. It was incredible, beyond my wildest dreams and even my imagination. How in the world this tube of steel could fly through the air, and I was in the seat where it all happened. Now, my kids see a steel door bolted, secured and watched ever so closely. Remember when the cockpit door was open at all times during the flight? I do. Remember talking to the pilots as they took you on this incredible journey across the sky? I do. The experience of coming back from a journey and telling your friends you flew the plane were significant and partly chest-bumping. The wings that they gave you as a kid, were not just a gift, they were a badge and representative of your visit to their domain. Now, it’s not so much.
And it wasn’t just on the plane. It was being able to hug your family as they passed through the door onto the plane as you wave goodbye, much like they still do on cruises. There were not any “points of no return” in the airports, there were not bomb-sniffing dogs scurrying through the terminals. Air travel was a luxury, one that I wish my kids would have experienced. It was a place where people were smiling, not growling. I even thought a trip to drop someone off was an event, not a chore.
I guess I’m disgusted with it all and I know I shouldn’t be. It’s how things are and how they will be, but what frustrates me most is that it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse. And I guess I was naive enough to think that this would be something that would improve with time. Now, I’m not sure where it will end. What will my future grandkids experience at this rate? I simply don’t know where the end lies when it comes to how secure can we be. It’s as if there’s a stranglehold on anyone feeling good anymore.
It Still Gets Me There
Call my rant here what you will, I call it just a bit jealousy on behalf of my kids, because we all want it to be better for them. I never thought air travel would be nostalgic, but that will be its place forever in the minds of those who remember what it once was. My kids’ experience is still one of excitement, wonder and much like me at their age, astonishment of how we ever managed to make a plane fly. And if that’s enough for them, then I guess it should be enough for me, because in the end, we all want to fly. And as long as that option exists, even under the strictest of rules, count me in.
Live Within Your Means, Travel Beyond Them!