Sunday, June 24th, 2018

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Tale of flying the NOT-so-friendly skies


If Frank Sinatra were still around to sing, “Come Fly With Me,” I’d want to check first that he had his own plane or was at least planning to go first class on Emirate.

Some of you will never know how much fun flying used to be and what an adventure it was. Now the fun is long gone and the adventures are of a different kind — the bad kind.

Alas, I was lucky enough to fly first class to Europe twice on journalism jaunts and had the luck to fly a couple of times on the company plane before Ed retired. It was marvelous. There was plenty of leg room in first class and all you could eat and drink served by stewardesses in attractive uniforms who stood ready to fill your slightest need. You were someone special and you felt it. Now I look at the people in first class and wonder why they are so badly dressed. We used to dress up to fly! Imagine that.

Private planes are the purview only of people who don’t have to worry about the cost of gasoline. They don’t even have to worry about getting to the airport on time because the plane won’t take off until you say it is time to take office. Believe me, having a plane wait for you is one of life’s biggest thrills.

Now we seem to wait for the plane and wait and wait and wait. The horror stories never stop. So I have a story for you, and while not exactly horrible, it will tell in the worst possible way that sometimes you get exactly what you pay for.

We found really cheap tickets to St. Petersburg, Florida, where we elected to spend a few days in February. Allegiant Airlines flies out of Youngstown-Warren Airport and you’re not the first person whose never heard of it. Neither had we. It’s unprepossessing to say the least. I’ll make it short: our plane left three hours after it was scheduled to leave and an hour after we should have landed in St. Petersburg. I went to sleep at 3 a.m. the next day. Everyone was pretty good-natured about it all until about the last hour when the atmosphere in the waiting room was charged and, when boarding began, people would have stepped on their grandmother to get a place in line. Boy were we put in our place. The college student who was running things basically told us to behave ourselves or the plane would never leave.

Forget that we had to pay $50 extra for one bag because we didn’t know the weight limit was 40 pounds rather than the 50 allowed by most airlines. They told us our seat assignments were invalid and we were on our own. That worked out well for us because we still got the exit rows for which we had paid extra. Our plane was not from Allegiant but from Falcon, a Miami-based charter group. It was perfectly fine and our return trip was only an hour late leaving. Oh, I forgot, I left my cell phone in the rental car which we retrieved after borrowing another flier’s phone. This all happened moments before we were to board.

Did I mention that we were served only water and pretzels? Next year we are driving.


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