I spent all of yesterday traveling and in airports, a rather strange place to be on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. I was struck by how much traveling has changed since then. We flew a good amount when I was younger, so I have a lot of memories of what it was like to travel in a pre-9/11 world. We would head out to the airport with snacks and drinks, like we would for any trip. My little rolling suitcase would be packed with everything I needed and I could bring it on the plane, even with liquids in it, because why would I not be able to? The tedious security lines were tedious because of moms with strollers and holiday travelers, not because of forced shoe removal. Just before the flight took off my mom would remind Will to power off his Gameboy and me my casette player or, once I upgraded, my walkman. During the flight I undoubtedly pissed off the person in front of me with my fidgeting and seat-kicking because I was bored of the books I brought and my CD kept scratching.
Yesterday as I got to the airport I begrudgingly paid $25 to check my first bag and another $35 to check my second, effectively raising the cost of my ticket $60 higher than the price I paid for my flight. I accepted with a shrug the fact that I had to throw out the almost full water bottle in my bag, and panicked that I might have forgotten to check my face cream. My fellow travelers and I scrambled to undo our laces and take our laptops out of our bags. During my layover in Atalanta I sat down and pulled out my laptop, only to find myself appalled at the lack of free wi-fi. A 3.5 hour layover alone and you want to charge me for wi-fi? I was incensed.
On the flight itself the flight attendents had to remind us 2, 3, even 4 times to turn off our cell phones and laptops until we reached 10,000 feet. And, of course, once we reached our cruising altitude we were able to buy movies, or, as the man next to me and I did, stream TV. Why should flying get in the way of me watching The Voice? And when Rachel Maddow came on we learned during our flight of the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya and the Embassy in Egypt. When the flight landed I turned on my phone to an email telling me my bag had been mishandled and I would have to proceed directly to the Delta Baggage Service Office.
I’m not trying to say that one travel experience is better than another, but I really was struck by all the differences. In a post-9/11 world you can’t bring drinks to the airport but were a terrorist attack to take place you could watch coverage of it during the flight. We expect internet in the airport but no longer have the energy to complain about taking our shoes off. We can check all the bags we want and watch all the movies we want–but there’s a hefty price. I know a lot more has changed in the last 11 years than just wi-fi and liquids on planes, but I also realized that the changes that have taken place are nowhere more visible than in airports and planes.
How have your travels changed in the past 11 years?