I’m nervous. I’ll admit I’m usually kind of uptight anyway when I travel as I’ve racked up a few particularly anxious moments on my past journeys. Today, however, it’s a different kind of nervous. It’s not an embarrassing type of nervous like when I got “sea-sick” on a camel ride in Egypt. Nor is it the harrowing type of nervous of having to be rescued while snorkeling off the coast of Fiji. And it certainly isn’t the uncomfortable type of nervous like when I bruised my testicles while parasailing in the Gulf of Thailand or when I got Montezuma’s revenge on the hike up to Machu Picchu.
No, the feeling I’m experiencing today is simply a nervous type of nervous. I’m especially nervous today because I’m taking my 22-pound Boston Terrier on his first airplane flight to visit my daughter in California. Bingo is just past the borderline weight restriction for traveling inside the plane cabin and his brand new travel carrier exceeds the size limitations for under-the-seat storage by one stupid inch. I know what you’re thinking–I should have planned all this out in advance–but when I booked the ticket, I somehow thought a pound here and an inch there wouldn’t really matter to the airlines. Now I’m not so sure and that’s why I’m holding my breath.
The day started out peacefully enough. We drove from Lexington to Cincinnati specifically to take this direct budget flight to Los Angeles. I figured with a non-stop itinerary, fewer things can go wrong, right? Bingo slept in the car all the way and I anticipate him doing the same through the entire four-and-a-half-hour flight. The biggest challenge is just getting him on board. A month of intense training– getting him accustomed to squeezing in, curling up, and pretending to be comfortable in a carrier the size of a large shoebox–will hopefully pay off. I should mention that Bingo can also clear rooms quickly with his gas attacks, so I’ve wisely limited his food intake this morning. Another reason I’m holding my breath.
We park in the long term economy lot where Bingo does his business. A shuttle then takes us over to the main terminal. So far, so good. As I approach the check in counter, I notice I’m sweating like Niagara Falls. I’m trying to be Joe Cool on the outside but inside I’m wound tighter than your high school jeans. It’s a helpless feeling being at the mercy of a random customer service agent for some second rate airline. I’ve never flown with Frontier before but I’m praying hard that they still cut me some first-time slack and let my buddy on board.
The agent’s name is Trevo and she reminds me of a severely weathered and gravelly voiced Jennifer Anniston. It looks like she had a sleepless night which works to my advantage. She apathetically glances over my travel documents, robotically types something into her keyboard, and throws the checked bag full of Bingo’s menagerie of toys onto the conveyor belt without giving us a cursory look. She points me toward gate A-18 and it appears like we made it past the first hurdle. I’m still holding my breath.
Next it’s on to the security checkpoint. You all know the drill– empty your pockets, separate out your liquids, take off your shoes, and fire up your computer while simultaneously holding up your beltless pants and juggling your carryon bag and personal item. My personal item this trip just happens to be a dog in a box. What am I supposed to do with him during all that? Do I send him through the X-ray machine? Does he get a puppy pat-down or a special smelling session by his bomb sniffing comrades? Someone help me please!
It turns out to be none of the above. Once Bingo starts licking all the TSA agents, they start drooling and fawning all over him and we are home free. No scans, no pat-downs, no scrutiny–we’re like airport VIPs. With this new found confidence, getting past the gate agent and boarding the aircraft turns out to be a virtual snap. I plop sedately down onto seat 4A, and gently squeeze my new traveling buddy and his compressible carrier under the seat in front of me. Much easier than traveling with family I think to myself. Absolutely nothing at all to be nervous about as I finally exhale!
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