Thoughts and musings 24 hours after a long day traveling from Atlanta back to Phoenix:
Atlanta isn’t my favorite town by a long shot, but it’s even less attractive when cloudy and cold as it was the majority of my visit. The sheer amount of traffic, and the difficulty drivers face trying to get anywhere – and I do mean ANYWHERE – never ceases to amaze me. I’ve seen the same kind of traffic elsewhere – for example, in Orange County – but at least that’s California, and if you can get to it, the ocean isn’t that far away. There’s nothing alluring about Atlanta and it’s never-ending sprawl. Forbes ranks it as the 16th most miserable city in America. Maybe, but I’d bump it up at least a few notches.
The most unhappy people I’ve ever watched seem to be those who ride on the MARTA train to and from the Atlanta airport. I guess they know what miserable really means.
US Airways is, at least in my view, the Atlanta of airlines. It’s bad enough to have to travel to Atlanta on any airline, but somehow US Airways just puts a cap on it. The employees are not friendly, their service sucks, and how they arrange travel boggles the imagination. Take yesterday for instance: Atlanta is a major city, correct? Phoenix is a major city, correct? But to travel from Atlanta to Phoenix took me north to Charlotte – yeah, I get it it, it’s a US Airways hub – but in a little tiny plane where just about everyone after Zone 3 was having to check their baggage through to their final destination. All the more infuriating because my flight to Phoenix, even with another Zone 5 boarding pass, had plenty of carry-on space. Friggin’ unbelievable.
And what’s up with this zone business anyways? Take my two flights yesterday. On my flight to Charlotte I’m in a window seat. On my flight to Phoenix, I’m in a middle seat, yet both of them are Zone 5. Makes no sense. One would think if you’re not going to board the plane from rear to front (the most logical, one would think), you’d board from the window seats in. But I gave up trying to make sense of anything the airlines do. Considering that every seat change now comes with an additional cost, you’d think everyone would be assigned Zone 5!
The baggage claim at Sky Harbor Airport is the US Airways of baggage claims. At every other Sky Harbor terminal they seem capable of delivering bags in a half-way decent amount of time, but if you’re checking baggage to Phoenix at a Terminal 4 gate, get ready for “the big wait”. Last night, I arrive and they tell us our luggage is arriving at Carousel 7. Fifteen minutes late, no wait! we really meant Carousel 5. Fifteen minutes after that, the bags start trickling out at a rate of 2-3 per minute. And this happens all the time. Of course, to get your bags means you’re one of the lucky ones – every time I’ve passed by the US Airways Baggage Claims office at Sky Harbor, there’s a line out the door, and last night was no exception.
Snapshot #1 – boarding my flight from Charlotte to Phoenix I pass by a guy letting out a big yawn. And he’s wearing a 5-Hour Energy sweater.
Snapshot #2 – I’m waiting for Tracey to pick me up and there’s a guy nearby smoking a cigarette in front of a huge “No Smoking” sign.
In contrast to Atlanta’s airport, the Charlotte airport is actually quite nice – not as nice as Minneapolis (in my view, one of the best) but a worthy stopover, for sure. Lots of choices to eat and drink, not too big, very nice people.
But I’ve escaped and arrived in one piece. It’s great to be back in Arizona.