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Monday, January 30, 2006

Vacation Underway

Midwest Airlines has two distinguishing characteristics. They used to have three distinguishing characteristics, but tough times in the airline industry forced them to give up the four-across leather seats on some of their flights. These so-called "Saver Service" flights have plain old cloth seats, three on one side and two on the other. Unfortunately, the Vegas flights are all in the saver service class.

The signature benefit to flying Midwest is that fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies are served on almost all flights. Breakfast flights miss out on the cookies. After spending $300 on a plane ticket, it may not seem like much to get a couple of cookies, but it really is pretty nice. It's certainly better than the stick in the eye that American Airlines gives you. Northwest also has direct flights, but I've been a little leery of them since their mechanics went on strike. I just don't think those guys are putting their hearts into their work.

Midwest has a quite a few direct flights from Milwaukee, and conveniently, they go to all of the places I like to go. I regularly visit Las Vegas, and I also like Tampa, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, all direct flights on Midwest Airlines from Milwaukee. Non-stop flights are always nice, regardless of the airline, but if you're flying on Midwest they are essential, because of the third characteristic--they are always late. I don't fly as often as some, but every time I show up for a Midwest flight, it is delayed. Sometimes twenty minutes, sometimes 5 hours, but always late.

It was no surprise, then, that when we checked in at the airport for our flight to Las Vegas, we learned that it was delayed. Only twenty-five minutes or so, though, so that was almost like it was leaving early. We settled in at the gate, visions of black chips dancing in our heads.

One of the sacred rules of vacation, perhaps Rule 1a, Sub-rule 3c, is that the vacation does not actually start until the first beer is cracked, so Troy got us started on the first round, returning to the gate area with a Heineken for me and a Sam Adams for himself. I was full of nervous Vegas energy, and had trouble focusing on reading, so I kicked back with my iPod and beer, allowing Miles Davis to carry me along for a while.

As we neared boarding time, both Troy and I took our turns hitting the bathroom (can't leave the bags unattended, you know). Troy returned with a surprise second round as the plane began boarding, so we had to expedite consumption. Vacation underway.


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