Wednesday, November 11, 2009


As I've said before, traveling doesn't bother me, especially flying. I've never had a fear of flying. Well, there have been a few instances, like when I was on the last flight out of Washington Reagan before they closed the airport one February afternoon due to a severe winter storm. Now when your plane is on the runway long enough for them to have to de-ice it twice, you have time to think. "Do folks in the south really know how to de-ice a plane? Did they pay attention in their last re-education class on winter maintenance? How old are these chemicals - after all it has been a while since they have had to use them?" I digress.

One of my daughters never knows where I am. One day while I was in the Philadelphia airport, she called me and frantically asked where I was. When I told her Philadelphia, she calmed down. I asked her why and she said that a plane had crashed in New York and she knew I was flying was concerned I was on it. I wasn't sure if she really cared or wanted to know if she needed to rush home to get ahead of her sister in line for any of my jewelry.

My mama tells her friends that my travelling doesn't bother her because it gives us time to talk. I usually call her between flights. Talk about a guilt trip. Yes, I live less than 2 miles from my mother, but to hear her tell it, the only time I have time to call her is when I am travelling. (I think this gets lost in translation.)

I don't need much, but the lowest grade of preferred status is nice. You know enough not to have to pay baggage fees, to get to board early, chance for possible free upgrades. At Sky Harbor (the Phoenix Airport) Terminal 4 is notorious for extremely long security lines. You can wait up to an hour and a half. In July I arrived early, got to the security and saw 2 lines. One said "Passengers". The second said, "Elite Status". I stood there for a moment. The "Passenger" line had, probably, a hundred people in it. There was no one in the "Elite" line, but no one there I could speak to.

Now different airlines, use different terms. USAir uses Silver, Gold, Platinum for their status ranks, American has Advantage, Gold and Platinum, Delta, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. What the heck was "Elite"? Not seeing anyone I could ask, to be safe, I joined the others in the "Passenger" line.

An hour later, as I gave my boarding pass and ID to the TSA agent, she looked at me and smiled. "You know, you have 'Elite' status and did not have to wait in this line?" I smiled and told her, I was not sure what levels "Elite" covered.

Two months later, I was at Sky Harbor again and knew that I could avoid the long security line. As I came around the corner to the security section - sure enough, they still had the two lines. However, this time, no one was waiting in line - in either line. Status will get you only so far ahead.

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