September 28, 2009

US Air Providence to Charlotte

It is an 8:20 flight from Providence to Charlotte. This is a quick overnight assignment for me with the North Carolina Association’s Annual Convention. The meeting is in Savannah. Yes the meeting is in Georgia, not North Carolina. My assignment is to bring the National Association of Leadership Team’s message and greeting to the Board of Directors and to the Past Presidents. For any of you in volunteer organizations, you know how challenging a meeting of past presidents might be. May of this group of ‘pasts,’ however, are good friends. Will be on a plane home before 9 am tomorrow morning.

Today, I am flying on United’ Star Alliance Partner, US Air. The plane is a full size plane with a three three configuration. It is Monday morning, and a surprising number of ‘tourists’ are on the plane. Not a lot of business people. After correcting a mix up with my ticket, new boarding passes are issued and I take my seat in 20C, on the aisle.

The male flight attendant is having an edgy day. “You are only allowed to put one item in the overhead. We are very full today, and if you put small items overhead, we will not have enough room. Then we will be late leaving because we will need to check the baggage. This will cause us to be late and WILL result in missed connections in Charlotte.” Maybe I just relate better to the carrot than the stick, but this is the approach. He repeats the same ‘instruction’ three more times. Maybe his ‘threat’ worked as there was plenty of room in the overhead bins and everyone was settling into there seats.

Next to me was a nice couple who did not speak. They point to the seat, silently asking me to get out of there way. She took the window seat, he took the middle seat. They did not say a word to each other. I said hello and received a nod. This will not be one of the window seat conversations that I most enjoy.

As we settle in, my favorite flight attendant comes back on: “The cabin door is now shut. If you wish to travel will us, you will not turn off all electrical devices….anything with an on and off switch.” (I cannot be the only one who wants to turn him off). Everyone complied and we did not leave anyone behind.

Have decided that this is a good time to continue reading Dan Brown’s the lost symbol. It is excellent. My seat mates say nothing, until beverage service. He says “orange juice and water.” They are served without looking up or over. Looks like I am going to get a lot of my book read. I do. (Pretty sure my seat mates are husband and wife; maybe they have taken a vow of silence between them).

As the plane lands, the flight attendant comes back on to thank us for flying US and a special thanks for following instructions. What happened to stopping when you are ahead? Thank you for flying US Airways would have been enough. (Maybe he was a Falcons fan. Ok, I really do not know what is going on in his life…but enough).

It was noteworthy that we left almost 20 minutes late, but still arrived on time. The real criteria for successful flying is arriving, arriving safely, and arriving on time. We did all three.

As we disembarked, my seat mates remained silent. My connection, hopefully with conversation, waited at gate E9.