Nadia’s Travelblog: Privileged Traveling, Airplane bathrooms and US Entry

I simply cannot get over the fact that I’m among the privileged few who get free Internet in airports now! The funny thing is, most of those privileged few can actually afford to pay for it. Business and first class passengers have their special, clean, comfortable lounges where they can recline while in transit. They get free food and free Internet. Economy travelers, the vast majority of us basically, have to manage on uncomfortable chairs, cold transit lounges, wildly expensive food and drink, and extravagant Internet charges. I am among the privileged few not because I am or ever will be a business or first class passenger. I’m privileged because my frequent flying has finally paid off and I have a gold frequent flyer card. Free food, drink and more importantly Internet! Wooohooo.

The joys of air travel

Nobody should ever have to fly economy. Really. It’s inhumane. The seats are most uncomfortable, there’s nowhere to put your legs, the food is crappy, your neck hurts every time you wake up from a nap and you drool while sleeping in an upright position. And the bathrooms are DEPLORABLE.

What’s up with airplane bathrooms?? Why is it that people can’t throw their toilet paper IN the toilet or throw their tissues in the waste bin? And why can’t men AIM?? Every single time I use an airplane bathroom I find myself wiping the whole place clean first in order to be able to use it. Why on earth should I be obliged to wipe up someone else’s pee? And why should I have to step in it?? You ARE aware that the wet stuff on the floor when you go into an airplane bathroom is pee, aren’t you? You are LUCKY if you visit a bathroom after I’ve been in. It’s almost spotless by the time I leave.

No matter how many times I fly to the US, I still can’t manage to get use to US airlines. The differences between them and those in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Arab world are huge. US airlines are probably the worst in the world, minus Russian airlines which are worse. Do US airlines use airplanes that other countries throw away? Or have they been using the same planes for the past 50 years? The planes seem and feel so ancient. The plane I rode today had cracked leather chairs and no individual TVs on the backs of chairs like those I’ve become accustomed to while traveling to other parts of the world.

Entering the … promised land?

US entry has become tedious. At Charles de Gaulle Airport, where I had transited, everyone goes through a stringent security check before entering the gate area. You take off your shoes, you take out your computer, your stuff goes through the machine, you go through the machine, the whole shenanigan. What normally happens afterwards is that you go to your gate and eventually just board your plane.

Getting onto a plane headed for the US is different. Upon boarding, every single individual goes through a second search. This one does not involve machines. Security guards at the gate ask you to take off our shoes and coat, they carefully examine both, you are body searched by hand, and then your carry-ons/purses are pretty much emptied and gone through in detail. In previous years, they used to single out a few people and do this. Now it’s every single passenger.

Getting into the US has never been too difficult for me. They have the normal lines at passport control that any airport has. You do need to give them the fingerprints of all ten fingers and a retina scan. And you’re asked a few questions about where you’re going and why. But that’s it. I’ve never been asked, for example, for documentation that proves what I’m doing in the US. I’m sure others have. But I just have an innocent face that way!

And this particular innocent face is now revelling in the special privileged persons’ lounge at the airport in Atlanta, Georgia waiting for her next and final flight to San Diego. (Expect me to rub in the fact that I’m privileged until the ecstasy of it all eventually wears off).

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