Sunday, November 11, 2007

Leaving Las Vegas

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Las Vegas hosts millions of people each year. It may surprise many that about half of our visitors come from the left coast where it shakes rattles and rolls, a fact about which San Andreas once said, "That's not my fault." Since the lifeblood of Las Vegas is travel and tourism people have to get here. Locals need to leave and return. Many choose to partake in road rage and drive that ribbon of I-15 that runs between the Valley of the Dollars and the briny Pacific. If you're luck the construction will be minimal and closures will be absent. A few travel by bus, either the Grey Dog or the pit bull called "bus junkets." Fewer still arrive by train. The "Desert Wind" used to travel from Smog Angeles and the Windy City (Chicago for you who've never been there) but it got blown off track due to lack of use.

Most travelers arrive via the Amtrak of the skies. Some Americans fly United, Others prefer to cross U.S. Airways, Delta, or Northwest, but most come to the southwest aboard Southwest, the carrier that brings as many souls as possible. However, if you haven't flown recently, let me tell you, Mabel, things have changed. On a recent trip I opted for Southwest Airlines, anxious to try their new half-fast seating technique. It used to be that Southwest travelers lined up in groups of A, B, C, and preboards. The preboards are those who use four legs to get around - either by crawling (the younger set) or with the aid of walkers (the young at heart set). I think some of them rent a kid to get a preboard pass then the entire blended and extended family of 23 preboards with their rent-a-kid.

Except for the pre-boards, the A, B, C suited me fine. I always got my boarding pass from the internet and got to the airport early enough to be one of the first in the A line and get a seat in first class. But Southwest Airlines has changed their boarding process. A pre-printed internet boarding pass now gets you an A, B, or C with a number and boarding by the numbers occurs within each category. My plane is scheduled for takeoff at 7:00 so at 7:00 and one second on the day prior to flight, I secured my boarding pass - A 26! Gee those other 25 had faster trigger fingers than old west gunfighters.

But even before I claim my 26th boarding spot (after the preboards, of course) I need to park the car, show ID to the bored ID checker, wend my way toward the TSA person with an attitude, remove my shoes, and hope that the pen in my pocket doesn't set off alarms or I'm in for an even more intimate, more humiliating body search. Assuming the plane is on time, I'm headed for wine country. We'll let you know in the next posting the latest on air travel and what's new in wine country.

Dr. Forgot.

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