OTR-69 Airline Travel Tips

In this edition of the Old-Time Rambler, I present some airline travel tips for old-time musicians.

1. Have a destination. Since you will be relying on the kindness of others, the assistance of others, and the funds of others, it's a good idea to at least pretend you know where you're going.

2. Buy yourself a ticket. (In case #1 doesn't work.)

3. Pack strategically. You'll need clothes, probably. Supplies for personal hygiene are recommended. (You can always look up "hygiene" after you're finished reading this article.) Okay, that should do it, you're off to the airport!

4. Mentally prepare yourself to be asked to play your banjo or fiddle as a way to confirm that it's really yours and that you have the Constitutional right to try to convince the gate staff to allow it as a carry-on. Don't let the fact that no old-time musician has ever been asked to play for airport staff rain on your parade. Keep your dream alive.

5. Proceed through security in a serious manner. Jokes are not appropriate at this point. Carry a copy of this article to help verify that you have no interest in anything funny.

6. On arrival at the gate, you will either be 7 minutes late for takeoff, or 3-1/2 hours early, knowing you and your planning habits. Carry your instrument behind your back, with its strap over your shoulder and your body turned as best you can to conceal the case. This may require you to walk in an unusual way, which could result in you qualifying as a pre-boarding passenger needing assistance. Resist this, as your concealed case will probably be confiscated and detonated.

7. If you find yourself with extra time before boarding, take out your instrument and begin playing. If your traveling companion(s) also play(s) old-time music(s) [sorry, got carried away], make it a jam. This will either (a) result in your fellow passengers being appreciative of you alleviating their boredom while waiting, entertaining their children before the flight, and insisting that you board ahead of them as a thank-you, or (b) it won't.

8. Once onboard, claim your seat and your copy of the Sky Mall catalog. The first thing you notice is that most of the Sky Mall items relate to providing physical comfort. (Let’s see—you have no foot room, much less leg room, and you can’t recline your seat the allotted 1.5 inches until you reach 10,000 feet, but, oh look, the helpful folks at Sky Mall are right there to make it all better.) Dog beds, neck pillows, foot baths, sleep masks, noise cancelling dog beds, noise cancelling neck pillows, noise cancelling foot baths, and noise cancelling sleep masks. And check out the energy protein detox weight loss meal replacement toddler growth shot. Or the top grain leather covered organizer with innovative binder-style rings that help keep paper under control: pen holder (pen included!) offers writing opportunities at the touch of a finger; keep phone numbers, addresses, appointments, play games, write messages, the possibilities are endless; opening page provides handy space for you to note where you keep your smart phone, with which you can do all these things without bothering with an overpriced high school notebook. You may be an old-time musician, but you're not brain-dead.

9. If you happen to have a right-side window seat and the flight isn't full, try this clever maneuver to give yourself more elbow room. Get up and retrieve your fiddle or banjo from the overhead bin, sit back down and get tuned up, and by the time you've finished the A part of Old Jimmy Sutton, the air-stabbing bow tip or uncontrollable peg head waving in the faces of your seatmates will have driven them to a seat upgrade or at least whimpering in the loo for the duration. You're welcome.

10. After touchdown, try to remember that a banjo in a hardshell case weighs somewhere around 40 kg itself. (2.2 times 40--I'll wait.) As it tumbles erratically into your arms from the overhead, the other passengers will again graciously give you wide berth, probably all the way to baggage claim. Just think, first in line at baggage claim! Of course, as any math grad student will tell you, a baggage carousel is topologically equivalent to a flattened donut or a banjo head with a hole punched in it, so there is no "first in line". (Although many would like to be first in line to punch that hole.)

11. Finally, find the shuttle to the parking lot. Try to remember which section you parked in, then recall that you didn't bring a car this time, because you don't have a car, and even if you did, you're not at home. Return to the terminal to meet your ride, who has by this time given up on you and gone home to bed. Get comfortable and have a few tunes--another chance to be a goodwill ambassador for old-time music, and to find out just how early in the morning they start baking at Cinnabon. Happy trails!

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Posted By:  Geff Crawford

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