I flew Air Choice One to Chicago for Easter weekend to go visit my family. The airline itself is competently staffed and professionally run, and the pilots and ground crew are all personable. I wanted to say that before I went into the rest of this anecdote, lest anybody think they had anything to do with what happened next, because they didn't.
Weather issues last Friday sidelined my northbound flight for about an hour and a half. Having spent a lifetime flying into and out of O'Hare International Airport, this came as no surprise. Without accounting for O'Hare delays, I'd be age 12 and never once have picked up an R. A. Salvatore book, so I knew what to do.
By this point, I'd already gone through the Transportation Safety Authority's screening process, which in Decatur translates into taking your shoes off and randomly having your hands dabbed with a very filthy-looking cloth, of whose function I have no idea. Maybe it makes pretty colors under a light on the occasions when I've recently handled the plastique and C4 I use recreationally.
What? I have a permit.
After a discussion about the size of my toothpaste tube (they let me keep it, I suspect because the lady behind me was making a fuss and they just forgot), and retrieving my smashed hat from the bin, I settled in at the gate seating area and was informed weather was delaying the flight. Air Choice One (who again, have nothing to do with the TSA) encouraged me and the other handful of passengers to sit tight.
Shortly afterward, we rushed out onto the tarmac, hoping to make a narrow window of opportunity. Our pilot taxied us up to the runway and the engine roared... and then we were informed we'd missed the window and had to go back. Groans, mutterings.
Unfortunately, we had to refuel. Regulations, it seems, don't allow passengers to remain on board while this occurs, because we had to disembark. But you see, we couldn't, because the TSA agents had gone home for the night and we weren't allowed back inside the terminal.
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I understand if you haven't been to or seen the interior of the Decatur Airport. Suffice it to say it is to O'Hare what a grain of sand is to the Atlantic Ocean. The thought that any kind of dangerous plot could be perpetrated there, or that the Avis rental guy would be unable to spot it and call the police, is laughable, but rules are rules, so we waited.
We were not screened again, thanks be to God, but there's no bathroom past the security point or on the plane, and leaving the gate to go back to the bathroom would've required me to get manhandled again, so I held it until I got to Chicago.
On Sunday, it was time to come back down, which meant a journey through the Kafkaesque nightmare that O'Hare has become in the last ten years. Once again, Air Choice One did everything right: They had me checked in, directed to the proper gate, and got me to Decatur as scheduled and with a smile. But first, I had to contend with the TSA.
I was relieved to find they were letting people through security without the full-body scanner, a device for which my brothers and I have crafted a nickname that cannot be repeated here.
The moment I reached to the front of the line, a TSA agent who appeared to be related to Morgan Spurlock rudely informed all of us we would need to scanned. I was the first in line to have the privilege. You have to put your hands at the base of your neck, in exactly the manner you might were you to be arrested.
"Step into my office," Morgan Spurlock said as I approached.
So was it worth flying Air Choice One? No, and I won't be doing it again. But it's no fault of theirs.