Our Texas job has allowed us to spend countless hours in airports and on airplanes. Since 2013, we've been going to out-of-town conferences about four times a year. It can be a miserable experience.
We hold these air travel truths to be self evident:
* There will be turbulence.
* The selfish jerk in front of you will lower his seat into your lap. The odds of this will increase exponentially if you have less room that usual (i.e. sitting in a middle seat or unfortunately booked onto whatever plane it is that has narrower rows than usual).
* There will be two kinds of TSA workers on duty: the aloof and bored types who scribble on everyone's boarding pass but wish they were somewhere else and the aggressive resentful types who must bark the same orders over and over again ("Put your laptops into a separate tray!") but wish they were somewhere else.
* Lest you think your trip is over once the wheels touch down, be prepared for another 15 minutes of taxiing.
* There will always be someone who's new to the TSA security screening system, gets confused with the process, has to redo everything, and holds up the line.
* The person in front of you in line at the counter - skycap counter, ticket counter, gate counter, whatever - will be require some ridiculously complex set of tasks that will involve numerous consults among the airline staff.
* 95% of all checked bags will be black. Some half-hearted attempts at personalization will be made on some, usually involving dirty ribbons and/or elastic bands.
* The airlines will continue to insist on creating nonsensical castes and classes among flyers that rivals bad YA dystopian fiction. "Gold, Bronze, Chrome, and Zirconium level passengers may now board at this time." Remember when it was just first-class and then everyone else?
* Those motion-sensor paper towel dispensers will deliver the smallest possible square of useless paper. Assuming you can even get them to work properly.
* Scientists will never be able to satisfactorily explain why it takes people so long after landing to get up, grab their stuff, and get the hell off the plane.
* Your gate will be placed at the location that will make you walk the farthest.
* The airline will pick the dumbest network sitcom on the air to show in its entirety. Better to try and peer between the seats to watch what that other guy is playing on his laptop.
* You will consider buying magazines at the newspaper kiosks that you'd never even pick up for free in a random waiting room.
* As soon as is humanly possible after landing, the person next to you will make a cell phone call and say "We just landed."
* Those air-blower bathroom dryers will blast your hands with a deafening roar but do next to nothing to actually make them dry.
* A majority of people on your flight will drag along huge roller bags that barely fit into the overhead bin and pretend they qualify as "carry on." The airline plays along with a wink. These people are the devil. Rule of thumb, people: if you can't carry it (i.e. if you need wheels to transport it), it's not a carry on.
* The lucky people in first class will try very hard to pretend you're not there as you oh-so-slowly shuffle past them in shame to find your seat back in steerage.
* If there is any sort of tarmac delay that leaves you stranded on the plane buckled into your too-small seat, the pilot will do as little as possible on the intercom to explain the situation or provide an educated guess of when the delay might possibly end.
* The self-serve bag check won't be faster, no matter what they say.
* No matter how close the gate may be to baggage claim, there will be an interminable delay before the bag carousel starts to turn.