Airplane or airport experiences...

sicnarf_1978

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For those who are frequent flyers, we all have been witnessed or experienced some particular situations, in planes or in airport terminals... it can be funny or scarry.

- A funny one... In may 2011, I was in Paris CDG coming back to Montr?al and waiting to get in Air France Airbus A380. Even with 3 boarding ramps, it is quite long to make 530 people boarding this big bird. So we were waiting in the bridge. In CDG, the new bridges have walls in glass so we can see outside. They were refuelling the plane. The refuellers were conencted to the wings. A woman asked her husband what they were doing. He answered... "They are inflating the wings so the plane can fly.". She said... "Oh yes... I was wondering how a plane can fly.". She was serious. I was laughing to have a stomach ache.

- A scary one... In May 2012, I was going to Japan. When I reserved my tickets with Delta Airlines, I had the choice to do Ottawa-Detroit-Tokyo or for 500 $ cheaper, Ottawa-Detroit-Minneapolis-Tokyo. At Tokyo, the plane was supposed to continue to Singapore. I took the cheaper flight. The first two parts of the flight were perfect, both flights were taking off in advance and arriving even more in advanced. In Minneapolis, we were starting to board an almost brand new Boeing 777-200LR when a very violent thunderstorm came on MSP Airport. It lasts for almost one hour, delaying many flights as the ground people were not working outside. So we left the gate 45 minutes late. We were 5th or 6th for take off... Then we start rolling on the runway, taking speed, then the pilot put the brakes and violently take a taxiway and stop the plane. He told in the PA that we had an electronic problem and that he will reinitiate all the computers. This will last 20 minutes. After these 20 minutes, he restarted the engines and restarted the take off procedures. So we were coming back to the main runway, accelerating almost to take off speed this time then... same thing, brakes and taxiway. But more violently this time. Instead of being stopped on the taxiway, we went to a deicing lot. The pilot told us on the PA that the plane was too heavy to take off with the current winds. Those winds are supposed to change in 20 minutes (strangely, the same delay as the previous attempt). If not, we will have to drop some cargo at the terminal. 20 minutes after, the sun came and the winds were changing. So we tried to take off for the third time. Passengers were very nervous this time. And the plane reach his take off speed. So no turn back. Then it take off... everyone were nervous for the first 20 minutes of the flight. We touch down in Tokyo-Narita without any problem and while we were going to the gate, they announced that due to a mechanical problem, the flight for Singapore was cancelled, passengers for Singapore have to see Delta people on the ground for another flight from Haneda later. So there were really a problem with this plane... and we were in the air for almost 12 hours...

- Another scary one... In July 2010, in a Lufthansa Airbus A330 from Munich to Montr?al. The flight was a perfect one, with all the high service level of Lufthansa. While we were touching down in Dorval, there were strong crosswinds. So the plane touch down on only the right wheel, then bounced on the left wheel, then on both before braking safely.

- A depleasing one... involving Air Canada, the worst airline in North America. On the same trip as the one with Lufthansa, this time, when I left. I was going to Copenhagen, From Montr?al with Air Canada, then changing for Brussels Airlines in Brussels. I had only 55 minutes between the 2 flights. The Air Canada flight for Brussels was a bus-type flight. It was starting in Toronto, then droping and taking passengers in Montr?al (that means that empty places were not clean). But a thunderstorm in Toronto delay the flight... and another thunderstorm in Montr?al too... During the flight, the entertainment system for the third of the plane stopped working... and we finally arrived in Brussels 10 minutes before my flight. I run outside the plane, passed the passport control, then arrived 3 minutes before the time to my gate. They had given my place to a passenger in standby and proposed me another flight with Scandinavian Airlines later. I said no, so they removed the poor passenger from the plane and I took my place. In Copenhagen... no baggages... they told me in Brussels that my bag may be late and arriving by the Scandinavian Airline flight and delivered to my hotel. I was not surprised. But in the SAS computer, my bag was supposed to be in the Brussels Airlines flight... Finally, my bag arrived late the next day. On the stickers airport put on bags, I saw how they were incompetent... My bag was accidentally sent to Oslo instead of Copenhagen. But instead to send them to Copenhagen from Oslo with SAS (Partner with Brussels Airlines), they resended them to Brussels. Then... to Stockholm instead of Copenhagen... return to Brussels... and finally to Copenhagen ! My bag see all Scandinavia !

Your experiences ?
 

RdKetchup

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I wouldn't say Air Canada is the worst in North America, I think their service on international flights is better than their American counter part, see my latest experience:
I flew United (economy) last week YUL -> IAD -> DXB... Never again!

The first leg (2h flight) was ok, very basic service, but that's expected on non-oversea flight. But the second one was the worst long-hauled I've ever experienced.

1.5 hour delay before leaving the gate due to a non-working toilet. Not a single drink service during that time.

No drink service before the first meal, and that meal happened 1.5h after taking off (the flight was scheduled for 18:25).

And when they got to my row, they ran out of chicken meal, so I had to have the vegetarian meal.

Alcohol not complimentary in economy.


I have also had a not so good experience with Air France (not really their fault though), when I flew YUL -> CDG -> TLS. I had a 4h planned lay-over in CDG, but during pushback at YUL we heard a loud clanking noise. The plane was then brought back to the gate, and we were told they had to do an inspection because something went wrong during the pushback.

After a 1h+ delay, we finally left, and the flight was uneventful. Since my layover was quite long, I wasn't stressed about missing my connection. When I got to CDG, I learned that the French Air Traffic Controllers where on strike, and some flights would be delayed. Of course mine was one of those, so instead of leaving at 12h30, we were told it would be 13h. Then 13h30. Then 14h... and it kept going like that until finaly we boarded at 16h.

All in all, it took me 24h to get to Toulouse from Montreal, longer than it took me to get to Beijing, Seoul or Dubai...


Probably my worst experience was Lufthansa losing our luggage when I went to Romania 2 years ago with my girlfriend and our 8 month old daughter.

We were flying there to attend my best friend's wedding, the day after our arrival. We flew Montreal -> Munich -> Frankfurt -> Cluj-Napocca, with very short layovers. We made all our connections, but our luggage didn't. So we ended up on the day of the wedding with no clothes except for what we were wearing on the flight (in my case shorts and a t-shirt).

We were there for 7 days, it took 5 days before my luggage finally reached me, and one more day for my girlfriend stuff to make it. At least we got very good service on the flight back.
 

calvinhobbes

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I had one rollercoaster ride at LGA and ORD a while back: was supposed to fly from LGA to ORD on the Delta Shuttle and then from ORD to STR via DUS on Lufthansa; on a different ticket. The night before my travel day, there had been severe thunderstorms in the area, so lots of people were still stranded in New York. You might assume that the airlines would do their utmost to get people to their destinations ASAP, but at least Delta seemed to be doing nothing of the sort. People were simply given seats on the regular flights, which meant that everything was overbooked and people with regular tickets for those flights got rejected - people such as myself.

I wasn't able to use the machines for check-in because I had hold luggage, so there I was in the queue. It moved at a glacial pace, but I finally got to the counter. The agent took my e-ticket receipt, started doing something on her computer and didn't seem to be doing much in the way of checking me in. Two more people arrived at the neighbouring counter, were checked in for my flight and proceeded to the security check - still no news for me. Then it came: "Well, I'm sorry, but due to the weather yesterday your flight is full and the earliest time we can get you to Chicago is on a connection through Detroit." I started losing the remains of my patience at that point; suffice to say that I didn't check in at that time and went away to give Lufthansa a call about the flight which I was now going to miss. Surprisingly enough, they weren't too pessimistic, so back to the queue I went.

Different agent, she at last did care and even noticed that it was my birthday. Phew, finally someone who gives a damn! However, all she could do was check me in for a much later direct flight and put me on standby for one that was scheduled to depart a little bit earlier. One interesting security check later (some metal kitchen utensils in my cabin luggage), I was finally in the departure lounge. I did get on the earlier flight, which was of course delayed, but no matter - my luggage only came on the later flight anyway.

Off I went to the Lufthansa check-in, fearing what might happen next and how expensive it would turn out to be. No queue, so I handed over my passport and the lady started typing. A couple of moments later, I started wondering what she was doing, so I asked whether she was actually checking me in. "Yes, I'm just going to send you through MUC on the next flight."

:jawdrop:

I suppose this meant that the one to DUS had been overbooked, but nevertheless I was quite happy to be back in the care of good old Hansa.
 

Interrobang

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I?ve seen this plenty of times at the air-port. People who fly with the cheap airlines (ryan-air espcially) with the those limitations on hand-luggage ... on size and weight. Who then stand there at check in and actually wonder that you have to pay extra if your hand-luggage exceeds the limitations. It?s written on your ticket, it?s written 20 times at the check desk, another 5 signs at the gate ... and suddenly it?s all a big surprise ...

Yes, it?s pretty much arbitrarily and obviously a scam ... but you?re flying fucking 1000 miles for 20? ... and you think you can carry 20kilo of luggage for your 2 week vacation into the cabin? Grow a brain ...
 

sicnarf_1978

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I wouldn't say Air Canada is the worst in North America, I think their service on international flights is better than their American counter part, see my latest experience:
It's true that United has a low level of service... very low, but generally, their personnal are OK. The first time I went to Australia in 2006, we were pushed back late from LAX because of a problem in a first class lavatory of the 747. Personnaly, I don't think that a non working lavatory is a real problem on a 747. Maybe on a CRJ or ERJ. But the real problem was the first flight, from YUL to LAX with Air Canada... at this time, there were one TV for maybe 5 or 6 rows in their A320's. Mine was just over the seat in front of me and it was defect. The colors were not OK. And my seat was brocken and was not reclining. On the return flight, the SYD-LAX part with United was basic, but OK. But in the AC flight... at this time, they were selling Subway subs on long transborder flights. When they arrived to my row, nothing left. I was Lucky to have juste enough time to eat a croissant in LAX before boarding. These were my 2 first exp?riences with AC...

The next one was the YUL-BRU one... not very good. After that, I decided to never pay to fly with them. Since then, I only fly with them with my Aeroplan miles. I took 4 flights with them, 2 with Jazz YUL-DCA and return. When we arrived in DCA, we were obliged to wait in the plane with the engines stopped for 45 minutes because the flight for Toronto was still at the gate. The return was OK. The other trip was last June in LA. The YUL-LAX segment was OK. I had the good idea to buy my meal at the airport. For the return... there are no electronic check in in LAX. So we have to wait to see a AC representative... I was there 2 hours before my flight... I waited 1 hour for check in. And nobody there was speaking French (while some SAS representatives in Stockholm speaks French...).

So... I hate them ! I never had any problem with other carriers except for small delays. The best service I noticed was with Air Transat between BCN and YUL while the flight attendants were changing babies diapers.

- - - Updated - - -

I?ve seen this plenty of times at the air-port. People who fly with the cheap airlines (ryan-air espcially) with the those limitations on hand-luggage ... on size and weight. Who then stand there at check in and actually wonder that you have to pay extra if your hand-luggage exceeds the limitations. It?s written on your ticket, it?s written 20 times at the check desk, another 5 signs at the gate ... and suddenly it?s all a big surprise ...

Yes, it?s pretty much arbitrarily and obviously a scam ... but you?re flying fucking 1000 miles for 20? ... and you think you can carry 20kilo of luggage for your 2 week vacation into the cabin? Grow a brain ...
Or people who bring in the cabin their large bottle of shampoo, large bottle of hair spray, large bottle of Scope... and thay are fighting with the security to let them pass with it. It's been 12 years since there is those limitations. I never see someone washing their hair in the lavatory. And when you are going to Europe, USA, etc... it is easy to find a place to buy shampoo.
 

Heathrow

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Positive Experience:

Landing at Heathrow on a BA flight over the centre of London, the non-flying pilot gave a running commentary of places of interetst as we passed them.

(Thames Barrier, Big Ben/Parliament, London Eye (Wheel), Wembley Stadium, Twickenham Stadium, etc.)

Never had that before or since!

Very nice for the Tourists and unusual since he would have been also listening & speaking on the radio to ATC, as well as running the pre-landing checklist.

Not-So-Good Experience

Returning from SFO on an evening / night flight, cabin temp WAY to high. Awful! BA 744 service.
 

marcos_eirik

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My worst experience was flying RyanAir from Rygge to Riga and back.

Last year my brother got married and for his bachelor party we sort of had to include some flying. Since he dislikes low cost carriers with a passion it had to be RyanAir, flying from (RYG) Rygge (South of Oslo) to (RIX) Riga (on a nice saturday) and back sunday evening. My expectations were low, pretty much the same as for an across-town buss ride. As all of us traveled with carry-on only, we managed to dodge that issue, and boarding went smoothly. On board things changed, I felt it was notoriously cramped in that 737, and to add insult to injury the seat backs do not recline. I had heard that RyanAir was cramped, but I didn't know it was this bad. Well underway I got hungry, so I tried the Pizza. That turned out to be the micro wave version of micro wave food, it was so bad it made me lust for one of those nasty mini-pizza-snacks they used to give away on Continental a few years ago. After that I tried to lean back, as much as you can with a non-reclining seat and listen to music, but no, twice the flight attendant bump into me to ask me if I wanted to buy lottery tickets.

On the way back we noticed at the airport in Riga that there was a separate line in security for passengers flying on RyanAir, as you had to pay an additional 7? fee to get through security because they didn't want to include this in the ticket price. On the way back I tried the 5? RyanAir cheese burger, which was as bad as the pizza, and made a McDonalds cheeseburger appear delicious by comparison. As it was a late flight I was too tired to read, and I was too uncomfortable to sleep. And on top of all that they were still pushing their lottery tickets.

Will I fly RyanAir again...? NO...
 

Phila

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I was flying out of Frankfurt to come home to Philadelphia. I had the cuckoo clock I bought in Wiesbaden packed nicely in the middle of my bag as to have as much padding as possible. I got pulled off to the side while they tested it for explosives. About 10-15 minutes later they gave the all clear and I went on my way.

It was more funny than anything else.
 

Eye-Q

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Since he dislikes low cost carriers with a passion it had to be RyanAir
:blink: Ryan Air is the lowcost carrier in Europe, are there carriers which are still more lowcost?

Anyway, my experience in JFK, flying in from MUC in April 2013: I knew it would be a long wait for immigration, but that long?
First we had to stand in a line in a corridor without seeing what was going on in the hall for immigration. It got forth reasonably quickly for the first 10 minutes until we were second in line, then absolutely nothing for 45 minutes.
The security guys told us there was a whole Airbus A330 from China which would be cleared first (the plane arrived after ours, we saw it from the corridor).
So, after about an hour in total we were allowed to the immigration hall which is divided in two halves: one for US-americans, one for foreigners. Both halves are layed out with tensators (those poles with string in them), about a football field in total, and the halve for foreigners was completely full with chinese people while the halve for US-americans was almost empty.
We queued up, after about 40 minutes and 5 switchbacks the security opened the lines to let some (I think about 150 in total) of the foreigners in the line for US-americans. 40 minutes later we reached the counter and the whole immigration process (which I did the first time I could remember; I don't remember the process 25 years ago when we were first in the US) went relatively smooth. Afterwards we got to the baggage claim where all the baggage has been unloaded from the belt already since we were so long in the immigration process, all in all about 3 1/2 hours...

Nonetheless the guy at the immigration counter was friendly and chatted with us about the vacation and so on and noticed my "I AM THE STIG"-shirt. Unfortunately he didn't know Top Gear, but I got to explain who The Stig is and he said he would check out Top Gear later. :D

tl;dr: as foreigner, try to avoid JFK when you have to go through immigrations, it's horrible.
 

marcos_eirik

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:blink: Ryan Air is the lowcost carrier in Europe, are there carriers which are still more lowcost?
Yes, Ryanair is the lowest cost carrier in Europe, that said there are other LCCs as well, such as EasyJet, WizzAir, Norwegian etc...

I will be flying Norwegian tomorrow from OSL to ALC, this will be operated with their brand-spanking-smoking-new B788 they have used Norwegian tabloids to hype that plane to mars and back with the "Dreamliner Experience", they're even calling these run-in flights to european destinations "The European Dreamtour". Later in August they will put it into service, altering between OSL/ARN - JFK/BKK.
 

DanRoM

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:blink: Ryan Air is the lowcost carrier in Europe, are there carriers which are still more lowcost?
I think the point may have been to fly low-cost because the bachelor who the bachelor party was for hates them...
 

ahpadt

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Somehow every time I'm in the bag drop-off queue, everyone seem to take atleast 2 or 3 minutes to get everything in order before they get a clear. What's wrong with actually preparing yourself A LITTLE BIT when travelling? JUST A LITTLE. This is especially bad at heathrow.

I usually take 20-30 seconds maximum.
 

93Flareside

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Nothing too crazy for me... The best things I can share with the few flights I've been on. United planes have the shittiest seats ever. Southwest has the best seats, Then US Airways, and United in last. So far, that's all I've flown. United planes also smell the worst and are the warmest. Needless to say, if I can avoid using United, I will. All my flights need to be nonstop to avoid losing expensive equipment or arriving late to the customer because one flight was late and I missed the connecting flight.
 

sicnarf_1978

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:blink: Ryan Air is the lowcost carrier in Europe, are there carriers which are still more lowcost?

Anyway, my experience in JFK, flying in from MUC in April 2013: I knew it would be a long wait for immigration, but that long?
First we had to stand in a line in a corridor without seeing what was going on in the hall for immigration. It got forth reasonably quickly for the first 10 minutes until we were second in line, then absolutely nothing for 45 minutes.
The security guys told us there was a whole Airbus A330 from China which would be cleared first (the plane arrived after ours, we saw it from the corridor).
So, after about an hour in total we were allowed to the immigration hall which is divided in two halves: one for US-americans, one for foreigners. Both halves are layed out with tensators (those poles with string in them), about a football field in total, and the halve for foreigners was completely full with chinese people while the halve for US-americans was almost empty.
We queued up, after about 40 minutes and 5 switchbacks the security opened the lines to let some (I think about 150 in total) of the foreigners in the line for US-americans. 40 minutes later we reached the counter and the whole immigration process (which I did the first time I could remember; I don't remember the process 25 years ago when we were first in the US) went relatively smooth. Afterwards we got to the baggage claim where all the baggage has been unloaded from the belt already since we were so long in the immigration process, all in all about 3 1/2 hours...

Nonetheless the guy at the immigration counter was friendly and chatted with us about the vacation and so on and noticed my "I AM THE STIG"-shirt. Unfortunately he didn't know Top Gear, but I got to explain who The Stig is and he said he would check out Top Gear later. :D

tl;dr: as foreigner, try to avoid JFK when you have to go through immigrations, it's horrible.
Welcome to North America... where any stranger is a potential terrorist !

In 2011, I came back from Auckland. A long but quiet and perfect 13 hour flight with Qantas. Arriving in LAX... around in the same time, there were our A330, 2 Qantas A380 (from SYD and MEL), 2 Qantas 747 (from SYD and Brisbane), a United 747 from SYD and a Virgin 747 from SYD... at the same time at the immigration at 6h30 AM... There were a lot of people, but it goes pretty well. Until a batch of passenger from a 737 from Central America arrived to immigration desk... completely blocked. Minimum 10 minutes with everyone. I was Lucky because they were sending Canadians and Mexican in the US line. It took 1h15 for me. Probably more thant 3 hours for Australians in the line. Outch.

A few years ago, almost all european flights were arriving at the same time in Montr?al. So it was very, very, very long to pass immigration. Now, they changed the schedule and the flights are arriving in a longer period. The waiting time is now acceptable. Except when the Air France A380 is late and the 340 is fastest and Transat A330 arrive at the same time.
 

NecroJoe

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I get pulled aside for "additional screening" every single time I enter an airport. It's been that way for nearly 10 years. My luggage gets searched about 75% of the time. Heck, even one time I was in an airport near baggage claim, waiting with my girlfriend who had just landed. I got pulled aside and questioned and had my palms swabbed.

I flew Virgin America for the first time. While their San Francisco gate area is fantastic, their hole-in-the-call gate in Boston was lame...but at least there were a few seats that offered power. The planes themselves...they seemed to favor style over substance. The seats were very stylish, but uncomfortable. And once you looked at all of the one-piece molded shells, you notice that the fit and finish isn't very good. Their free games you can play, but all but two are incredibly terrible...like...to the point where I think my life was shortened by the amount of stress caused by the frustrations in the terrible games. The flight map was also terribly buggy. One minute, It showed me 2 minutes to destination...when we had about 4 hours. Even after we had landed in SFO, it showed the icon for our plane over the ocean on the far side of the peninsula.

I really also don't like that most airlines use vinyl seats. They don't breathe enough for a flight longer than 3-4 hours.
 

CAPT_Howdy

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I remember flying PeoplExpress one 3 day weekend back in 1986. My car's transmission had crapped out when I was on Xmas leave in '85, so I flew up to Maine to pick it up after my father rebuilt it. I gave my parents my itinerary, and they promised they'd meet me at the airport when my flight landed at about 4PM on Saturday.

I arrive at ORF and check in for my flight, which is supposed to go to BOS, then I switch planes and fly on to PWM. When I arrive at the gate, I notice some mechanics working on the engine. More and more time goes by (It was about 2:00 PM when I got to the gate; my folks would be leaving the house to pick me up at 3:00.) until the engine is finally repaired and we leave at 3:30PM.

Now my folks are undoubtedly wondering where I am; this was before cell phones, and I had no way of calling them when I realized my flight would be late. I arrive at BOS at 5:15 and go to the counter to see about my flight to PWM. It turns out that the next flight won't be until 8:30, with a 9PM arrival time. (Again, no way to pass this info to my folks - I try calling the house, but they're either still in Portland or are on their way back, because there was no answer.) I board my plane, we take off, and as I'm breathing a sigh of relief that I'm almost home, the captain comes on the PA and says, "Welcome aboard PeoplExpress Flight XXX, traveling to Burlington, Vermont."

ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It turns out the captain was confused and corrected himself a minute later. We landed at PWM and I met my father at the airport. He and my mom went to the airport, saw my flight was delayed and that I wouldn't be arriving until 9, drove back home, and then my father left at 8 for the drive back to the airport.


Another incident I had involved a Delta Airlines flight from PWM to SAN, with stops at JFK and DFW. This was the flight taking 18-year-old me to the Naval Recruit Training Command in San Diego for boot camp. After we left DFW, I decided to order a drink to celebrate my last day as a civilian. I order a bloody mary, and start sipping as we're flying over the city of Albuquerque. Suddenly, I'm wearing my drink and I get that feeling that the plane is falling out of the sky. I go to fasten my seatbelt as the sign illuminates, and I find the seatbelt won't fit. What I was able to wrap over my waist and click fastened now only comes to midway on my hips. I look down and see that I'm floating 6 inches above my seat. As I realize what happened & what it means, the plane stops falling and I'm slammed into my seat. The rest of the flight was without incident.
 

Interrobang

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I hate Ryan-air with a passion too, but the next Airport is mainly Ryan-Air. So it makes sense for me to check everytime I need a flight if they have that destination. The whole misery simply saves me time. A lot too.

Having your trip to the airport be 20min by car with cheap parking or 1 hour 30 by car and then have them rape you for parking fees (or two hours +x by train) at the next Airport ... makes a difference. On most european flights the time I save flying with the local Airport, is longer than the flight itself. That makes a huge difference for me and has made me fly with that bloody Airline a lot more often than I like to admit ... Being miserable for 2 hours did seem worth it saving the time traveling to the airport ...
 
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93Flareside

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I get pulled aside for "additional screening" every single time I enter an airport.
Something I've noticed that is starting to happen more. My butt isn't small, so there's a sort of shelf at the top of the butt and TSA people after I just went through the xray thing, they will stop me and frisk the top of my butt. That's it, two swipes and away I go. It's not everywhere but it's happened 3 out of the 5 times I've flown.
 

CAPT_Howdy

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Do they at least buy you a drink first?

I remember flying from SFO to PWM back in 2002. While changing planes at DET, I struck up a conversation with a rather attractive young woman wearing a sundress. She got picked for additional screening at DET and again when we landed at PWM. (Which is odd, because why screen travellers when they're getting off the aircraft?)

I suspected that the screeners were trying to hit on her.
 

Hidden_Hunter

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I don't get why it takes me about 2 minutes to checkin for an international flight, yet seems to take others like 15 minutes
 
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