So, I flew AirTran…

Naturally my day could only go downhill, after my (unintentional) “high” of clearing security in a space suit and taking my pants off in the Admirals Club. I made it to Atlanta, where I headed for the “C” concourse for my AirTran flight back home. First of all, you’ve gotta love AirTran’s boarding passes, which look like a hybrid between a supermarket receipt and a… supermarket receipt.

I paid the $49 to upgrade to business class in order to avoid having a zone 8 boarding pass, though it was a moot point in the end.

I made it to the gate about 28 minutes before departure, so took a seat in the gate area for a couple of minutes, since I assumed the flight was delayed by a few minutes given how full the gate area was. After about two minutes the gate agent paged me by name and told me it was my final opportunity to board or my seat would be given up. Really, over 25 minutes before departure?!

I got aboard and located my seat, 2A. In the aisle seat was a lady that was easily 80, and she had pulled out my tray table and put her two Jack and Cokes on there. When I said “excuse me please, I’m in 2A,” she mumbled “oh $hit, I was hoping it would stay empty.” Gee, thanks, right back at ya!

I was feeling like crap at this point. I was dead tired from flying all the way from Tokyo and also came down with a cold, though my seatmate was determined to have a conversation with me. I tried all the tricks in the book, including sleeping in hopes of her not disturbing me. But she wanted to talk, and there was nothing I could do to stop her.

Her: “So where are you flying from?”
Me: “Tokyo.”
Her: “Oh. Did you fly AirTran the whole way?”

Oy, I could tell it would be the longest hour-long flight of my life.

In-flight she proceeded to order several rounds of Jack and Coke, and one by one placed the minis in her purse. Nice.

The highlight had to be as we were approaching Tampa. I was sleeping and she taps me on the shoulder till I wake up and look at her.

Her: “I’m really good at reading people.”
Me: “Oh?”
Her: “Yes, I can tell you’re terrified of flying. Don’t worry, I don’t like flying either, but we’ll be fine.”
Me: “You’re good. The way I try to cope with my fear is by sleeping. It’s the only way I don’t get nervous.”

And with that the rest of my flight was uneventful.

Comments

  1. Haha, I actually think I like your AirTran reports more than the A380 F reports. Although I like the latter a lot as well.

  2. I used to fly AirTran a lot between BWI and BOS, and I would somehow always get to the gate 5 minutes before the door closed… I don’t know why they would page you for final boarding 25 minutes before departure!

  3. The dreaded talker. I’m inevitably seated next to one. I always carry headphones and sometimes plug them into thin air just to avoid this scenario.

  4. OH Ben,

    Her: “Oh. Did you fly AirTran the whole way?”

    Oh my… there are not words! But, you should have said you had to switch to SouthWest for that part of the trip… my oh my… 🙂

  5. Please, more AirTran reports. I enjoy this more than reading about your first class experience in Lufthansa, Swiss or whatever. This if real Life on a plane!

  6. aaah, so you survived flying the little ‘a’. to think i thought it was going to be worse!

  7. “Really, over 25 minutes before departure?!”

    Yes Lucky, believe it or not, there are some carriers that aim to leave ontime rather than 30+ mins after the “scheduled” departure time.

    Semi-related, you have to admit, SWA has THE MOST efficient boarding process. I recently flew AA ORD-MIA (which is highway robbery you’re flying hub to hub and it costs $900!), but the boarding process is an absolute disaster! Everyone crowds the two boarding lines before they announce pre-boarding. It’s a mess!

  8. Lucky,

    Did you try the direct approach:

    I have been flying all the way from Japan, am really tired, have a cold, and would rather not talk much so I can sleep? Thank you for understanding.

  9. hehehe OMG…did you fly AirTran all the way to Tokyo?? Yes…Yes I did..transferred from Allegiant at their hub in the country of DOOO BYE…know where DOO BYE is?

  10. I would hate to finish my “around the world in exclusive first class and great lounges” trip with Air Tran;

  11. Thanks for sharing. Wow it sounds like this lady was a real act pocketing the minis in her purse. Did the FA see or say anything? AirTran blows, haven’t flown them since 2008 fortunately.

  12. So funny, I don’t think I could laugh anymore after the pants off in the club – I think we’ve all met this lady at one point

  13. Why are you leaving us in the dark with this trip report ?
    I’ve always wondered what a Diet Coke w/Lime on AirTran would look like 🙂

  14. That’s a challenge for you next time. Can you do an Around the World trip using only discount/low cost carriers???

  15. I’m surprised to hear that you are afraid of flying, especially considering that you seem to push yourself to fly a fair bit more than needed sometimes.

    It reminds me a bit of a pilot friend of mine who suffered from motion sickness. It was a constant battle for him during turbulence and the cabin crew were kept busy bringing and taking sick bags from the cockpit.

  16. @ Bryce

    Yes, I don’t know why people don’t just do that. It’s not being rude, it is being honest…just politely but firmly tell the person you’re just not in a chatty mood, or chatty type. I once told a person “sorry, I’m don’t feel very talkative, I just want to listen to my ipod and read my magazine”. They gave me a look like I just announced I like to beat kittens with cancer or something, which I found hilarious. Anyway, it’s not like you’ll ever see these people again after the flight, so just be direct and honest with them.

  17. @Andy Bluebear – An airline is not permitted to discriminate on the basis of that disability so long as the pilot is able to pass his various statutory medicals, simulator and line-checks. I won’t give specifics but the airline is an EASA certified operator from a major Western European country.

  18. @ Mark T — Seems like a bargain to me given that their coach seat pitch is 30″. Coach cost $80 on AirTran so I basically paid $130 for business class. The cheapest Delta coach fare was $200+.

    @ Josh G — The FA was really laid back and kept serving her doubles, so seemed to encourage her drinking.

    @ steve64 — Ah, except they don’t have lime on AirTran!

  19. Situations with a passenger like your seatmate are when I go into “complete ignore” mode. Earphones are in, reading my book–my seatmate could stare at me and talk at me for 15 straight minutes, but my eyes are leaving my book!

  20. Great report. I LOVE AirTran business class. It was an affordable way to get around. I am going to miss them!

  21. @ Sean M.

    The airlines are free to do what they want to, but I would not feel comfortable knowing that about my pilot…

  22. @ mike – Thanks for the idea of an around-the-world trip on low-cost carriers only. I’m finishing the planning of said trip right now. Only two or three more segments to figure out. I’m excited! (My 6’4″ frame isn’t as excited though.)

  23. This is where speaking a second language comes in handy! Of course for me my choices are speak Canadian English and have them think I live in an igloo and am socialist or go for French and have them think I’m rude and socialist….
    Just bust out the Deutsh next time!

  24. Lucky,

    This is a dumb question, but I’m assuming you’re a blogger full time right? I’m insanely jealous of your travels and just wondering if I would need to quit my job, write a super successful and fun blog and then travel around the world in F.

    Sounds worth it.

  25. Love your AirTran trip report. I think you should have spoken to her in German… Your blog give me so many good ideas for future trips. Thanks.

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