"There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position, and be bruised in a new place."
-- Washington Irving
Have you flown on a commercial airline lately? A few weeks ago my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary in Hawaii -- courtesy of our kids -- and experienced a similar ordeal vacationers go through nowadays when traveling by air.
Before I retired in 1996, I was convinced that flying was the only way to travel.
Scheduling a flight back then was no problem. There were a number of airlines to choose from such as PSA, Southwest, TWA, Northwest ... One airline even advertised departures from the Bay Area every hour on the hour!
Would you believe commercial planes flew out of almost every major city in the United States, as well as Buchanan Field in Concord?
Customers were allowed to check in up to two pieces of luggage free, in addition to a carry-on that usually passed without inspection. I brought aboard a fish wrapped in newspaper once that I stowed under my seat on a return trip from San Diego.
We didn't have any high-tech electronic devices back then to keep us entertained while flying, but that left more time to read and snooze which I preferred to do anyway. If we scheduled our flight during mealtime, the meal was included at no charge.
It's rare to get anything free from the airlines today -- save for complimentary nonalcoholic beverages -- unless one flies first-class. I presume that partially justifies the premium price they pay for their seats.
I guess it'll take time for us old-timers to get used to all the changes. Unlike today, we weren't asked to show our IDs, and once we checked our baggage in and received our boarding passes at the ticket counter, we were able to proceed to the gate without hassle, and our family and friends were allowed to see us off from there.
I admit not all changes have been bad. Being able to purchase tickets and reserve seats online means we don't have to wait in line or rely on a reservations agent for that service.
On the other hand, I object to having been charged $20 for each piece of luggage we checked in and having had to pay it again on our return flight to Oakland.
To further rile the travelers, we all had to remove our shoes and surrender everything listed as contraband -- items such as fingernail clippers, cigarette lighters and even bottles that contained any sort of liquid -- before proceeding down the concourse.
Although most folks seemed familiar with the routine, there were those few flying for the first time who seemed lost in the transition.
I felt especially sorry for the young couple who were required to surrender to the authorities -- despite their futile pleading -- the four scrumptious looking apples they were carrying and probably planned to eat while in flight. I've often wondered what inspectors do with fruit and other edibles they confiscate.
As a senior citizen I feel entitled to act like a grouse and express my true feelings now and then. I have to admit, however, and despite all the hurdles they keep adding, there is still no more efficient way to travel today than by air.
With our trip to Hawaii in mind, the 11th annual Hawaiian Fusion sponsored by the Concord Senior Center is this week. It stars the ukulele phenom, Bruce Shimabukuro, who will be performing at Centre Concord at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7.
I've been told tickets are going fast. If you are interested in attending, log on to Brown Paper Ticket at www.brownpapertickets.com to see if seats are still available.
Aloha. And may each day be filled with joy and good thoughts.
Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.