1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Baby Boomer Travel Daze

by Suzanne Fluhr on February 16, 2013 · 19 comments

February scene, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

February scene, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

We left our apartment at 5:30 A.M. for Philadelphia International Airport on Valentine’s Day to commence the first leg of our 6,000 mile journey to Honolulu, Hawaii. My husband, Steve, is an aisle seat person. I choose the window seat so I can look out in case we fly over anything interesting and so I can at least lean against the window while contorting myself in the elusive search for a position that would not be classified as an enhanced interrogation technique. By choosing aisle and window seats, we used to sometimes luck out and no one would be inserted into the center seat. That hasn’t happened for quite a while, now that most flights are completely full.

On our first flight from Philadelphia to the infamous Los Angeles (LAX) airport, the middle seat was occupied by a tall young man who promptly fell asleep and remained that way for five and a half hours, mouth unattractively agape, until we were instructed to stow our trays for landing. Fortunately, I must have been dehydrated because I never had to wake him up so I could use the, um, facilities. I successfully kept my increasing claustrophobia from crescendoing into a full blown panic attack by listening to Handel’s Messiah on my noise canceling headphones, thus tricking myself into believing I was in a beautiful concert hall instead of trapped in an uncomfortable seat in a metal tube some 35,000 feet above terra firma.

Fortunately, the weather gods cooperated and the predicted one to three inches of snow never materialized in Philadelphia, so we were not delayed by runway plowing or aircraft de-icing. We landed right on schedule at LAX. If a traveler complains about anything at Philadelphia International Airport, the City Fathers (and Mothers) should insist that they fly into LAX and then write a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer about how wonderful Philly’s airport is.

LAX Airport

LAX Airport

Our flights were a code share, PHL to LAX on US Airways and LAX to Honolulu on United. Having studied the in-flight magazine, I warned Steve that we were going to need to leave our arrival terminal, take a bus to a different departure terminal and go through security AGAIN. So, if you don’t finish the bottle of water you purchase at your departure airport and have to transfer to another terminal at LAX, find a trash can unless you can titrate the remaining H2O into a series of three ounce containers that fit into a quart size, clear plastic bag.

On our second flight, that nano-millimeter of “extra” leg room on the US Airways flight was sorely (literally) missing. I seriously don’t know how anyone taller than I am (i.e. not very tall) could sit in an economy seat on our United plane for six hours. Of course, we again had someone sitting between us. This guy didn’t sleep, but his personal hygiene left something to be desired, so I didn’t feel like having to climb over him to get to the aisle. Further, my getting up to go to an airplane bathroom inevitably seems to trigger turbulence that prompts the pilot to turn on the seat belt sign and the flight attendant to give me the stink eye for being out of my seat.
I’m not proud of it, but I admit that while waiting to board an airplane, I reflexively look around to see if there are any small children who could further diminish my “enjoyment” of the flight. (This is a subject that inspired a former blog post.) As we waited for our flight at LAX, a young couple with a seemingly inconsolable infant and a cute, little blond haired toddler were clearly the prime candidates for fervent prayers of “God (their adorableness notwithstanding), please don’t let this family sit near me on the plane”. God must have been occupied fulfilling worthier prayers because Mom, with the still inconsolable infant on her lap, was seated directly behind Steve. The toddler had the window seat directly behind me. I tried the noise cancelling headphones and Messiah technique again which was working until the little guy decided it would be fun to kick the back of my seat — repeatedly. There wasn’t even enough room for me to stand up and turn around to glare at him – not to mention that probably I would have melted and smiled which he would take as encouragement to kick even harder.

Iconic Diamond Head, Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii

Iconic Diamond Head, Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii

I dared not whine to Steve about the flights because he timed this trip to visit his research colleague at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center to help me cope with the February apogee of my yearly Seasonal Affective Disorder. The first day of official spring in the northern hemisphere is not until March 20th, the date of the so-called vernal equinox. The vernal equinox occurs on the day when there are 12 hours of both day and night. Unfortunately, around our latitude in the mid-Atlantic United States, denoting March 20th as the first day of spring is a cruel hoax. If you start looking for budding trees and flowers, you will be sorely disappointed. A winter coat, hat and gloves are still recommended to venture outside. Of course, by March 20th, I have inevitably lost one of my gloves. But, hey, no biggie. After all, it’s spring. Surely, it’s not worth investing in a new pair of gloves in the spring. I try to hold that thought when I’m bare handing it scraping the ice off my car windshield or shoveling snow into early April.

I was born on April 22nd. My mother always tells me that when she entered the hospital to give birth, it was cold and gray, but when she took me home 10 days later after a difficult labor and delivery, spring had sprung. The trees were a soft, young green, daffodils were blooming and robin red breasts were hopping around. So, until my birthday, if I have to travel for sixteen hours to reach Hawaii — the only thing I’ll say to Steve is “Mahalo“*.

*Mahalo = Thank you, in Hawaiian.

Spring blooming dogwoods in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

Some weeks after March 20th, you can see the dogwoods blooming on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. Aaahh spring.



If you would rather read about spring than read my whining about air travel, it’s your lucky day. Catherine Sweeney is sponsoring a blog carnival about spring on her blog, Traveling with Sweeney.  Around these parts (Philadelphia, PA, USA), you can say, “Aahh, it’s spring”, when you see the dogwoods blooming in Rittenhouse Square.”

What was your longest trip by air?  How did you do? When does spring actually spring for real in your neck of the woods? Share some of your spring likes/dislikes. Comments are below. Add yours.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie in Portland, Oregon February 20, 2013 at 3:29 am

In the mid-1970’s, Pan Am began flying the 747SP, an aircraft that could stay in the air as long as 21 hours or so (depending on wind and other conditions). As cabin crew on that aircraft, I flew several flights between the west coast of the U.S. and Asia that lasted just over 19 hours. On flights that long, there was a replacement cockpit crew, and a separate sleeping area with bunks for the resting cockpit crew, but no replacement crew or separate sleeping or designated rest area for cabin crew, so we worked the whole flight (with short breaks wherever we could take them–usually those flights were full). As difficult as that was (particularly since smoking was allowed onboard in those days), I think it was easier than being a passenger on them: at least we got to move! With the current tiny seating area for each passenger on the aircrafts of U.S. airlines, I cannot imagine flying on any of them longer than six hours at a time. If you must take a flight longer than that, about all you can do to take care of yourself is drink as much liquid as possible (avoiding alcoholic, caffeinated or carbonated beverages), sleep as much as you can, move as often as possible (even while in your seat) when you are not sleeping…and fly on the carrier that offers the widest seats and the most distance between its rows of seats in your class of service. As for dealing with the vagaries of connections…do whatever you can to maximize your resilience (i.e., your ability to “roll with the punches”). Blue skies!!!


Just One Boomer February 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Leslie, thanks for sharing your experience. I don’t think drinking lots of water would do it for me as an economy class passenger on a 19 hour flight. I would absoutely have to be sedated. I think I could handle it in business class with seats that lay flat and have individual entertainment systems. In fact, when we flew directly from Toronto to Tokyo it was 13 hours and we were in business class –saints be praised!


Madaline Fluhr February 20, 2013 at 6:31 am

No wonder I’m procrastinating on making my reservations to fly east in April and May!! All I can say is that the wide diameter of our ability to stay physically connected to loved ones in far off places is so intrinsically connected to our willingness to fly – that I am constantly working on ways to like it better! In spite of best efforts, I still tend to deal with it like going to the dentist. A necessity, but I focus more on the “after” than the “during!” Am grateful dentists exist, BUT…….you get my drift….
I also remind myself of the perfect person I sat next to on a flight to Philly that I stepped onto 5 minutes after hearing that dad had died – the purpose of the flight had been to see him before that eventuality…alas..She was kind, let me talk, shared some of her family story, and dropped me off at Mom’s after inviting me to share her cab on her company’s dime….there are wonderful, interesting, kind, compassionate folks to be encountered on planes along with the weirdos!


Just One Boomer February 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Mads, you better make your reservation so you din’t miss your nephew’s wedding. It’s true. I have met some nice people on airplanes. One comforted me when I flew alone to Pittsburgh for my father-in-law’s funeral.


Montecristo Travels (Sonja) February 20, 2013 at 10:52 pm

I must have one hard core guardian angel because I can’t think of a really horrid… Oh wait … no … I can. Gods I think I had blocked that out from the first layer of consciousness in self defence or preservation. *sigh* Jeez Thanks Suzanne. A flight from Montreal to Paris. Non stop – toddler – Colic. Cried at the top of its lungs with absolutely no break. I think everyone on board started praying that perhaps the plane would crash. I do not have the words to describe the torture. Parents, Airline staff and passengers alike. I hate to say it but I have no idea how that kid is still alive today.


Just One Boomer February 21, 2013 at 2:50 am

There’s some talk now of confining families with kids to one section of the plane and charging extra for seats away from that area? Worth it? I think Malaysia Air already bars children from the upstairs business class on their jumbo jets. I wrote about this in an earlier post which stirred up some reactions. I dunno. Intellectually, I don’t want to discriminate against families flying with babies/children, but after being kicked in the back for 3 hours concommitantly with a screaming baby also directly behind us, I was wondering what transgression I was being punished for.


Andrea February 21, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I empathize normally, especially having a screaming child on our return flight from Las Vegas who thought shouting loudly how badly his ears hurt would make the pain subside. However, it is 30 degrees today with a wind chill of about 15, and you are in Hawaii. Mahalo for rubbing it in 🙂


Just One Boomer February 22, 2013 at 5:14 am

Yeah. I know. I have a lot of nerve complaining about anything. 🙂


Jenny February 25, 2013 at 2:46 am

I wrote a comment and somehow erased it!! I am too tired now to try again. I wanted you to know that I did read your blog.


Just One Boomer February 25, 2013 at 7:29 am

Thanks, Jen. Sisterly support is always appreciated.


Cathy Sweeney March 2, 2013 at 6:01 am

Aloha! Hawaii is a perfect place for an escape from many things. Well worth the discomfort of the travels getting there. It’s like Paradise, isn’t it? I love what your mother said about when she brought you home, spring had sprung. What a wonderful thought.


Just One Boomer March 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

There were quite a few times while we were in Hawaii that the term “paradise” came to mind. But, in Honolulu, there are homeless people living under bridges to provide the reality check. There’s a cure for spring yearnings closer to home. The Philadelphia Travel Show starts today!


Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista March 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm

I think its funny how everyone has an airport they hate! I don’t mind LAX but keep me away from DFW or ORD 🙂 My last trip to Germany, I had the window seat next to a tall young man who slept the entire way. Besides being jealous that he could sleep on the plane, it did leave me feeling a bit claustrophobic. Now I know I’m not the only one looking for small children about to board an airplane and saying a quick little prayer 🙂


Just One Boomer March 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm

It’s true that DFW can have you doing a mini trip — within your trip — in the airport, but at least I’ve never had to go through security twice. ORD is, well, ORD. We had a less than wonderful trip through there last time, but it wasn’t ORD’s fault. It was thunderstorms. But, of course, the experience triggered a blog post.

The subject of children on airplanes does seem to strike a chord with people. Here’s an earlier Boomeresque post on the subject:


InsideJourneys March 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Hawaii’s a great place to take a break from winter. I don’t have to guess which is your favorite shot of Rittenhouse Square.


Just One Boomer March 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm

You got that right!!


Lissie July 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm

So you are saying that late April is too early to come to Philly? I’m trying to juggle a road trip between Philly and New Orleans about 6 weeks in total including 1st time visits to Washington and NYC!

6 hours I call short-haul to be honest. We are looking at Wgtn-Syd (3 hours) couple of hours layover – 15hours Syd -DFW (worlds longest non-stop 747 route) then DFW-Philly (not sure 3hours?) Coming back we’d probably do NYC-HNL – 12 hours and then 8 hours to Akl. The trick is to pick your airline – coming over is Qantas which provides good stuff like free booze, 1/2 decent food and seat back entertainment. Coming back is probbly going to be rougher on an American airline.

It also does my head in if the first leg is not the longest – you know it’s going to get worse not better 🙂 On the plus side its a wonderful way to catch up on movies you missed the first time around


Just One Boomer (Suzanne) July 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Lis, I would consider doing the road trip from New Orleans to Philly instead of the other way around. I can still be cool at the end of April in DC, Philly and NYC and NO can be stinking hot and humid by mid June. At the end of April some of the flowering trees in Philly should be out, however. The flight time from Dallas to New Orleans is 1 hour and 23 minutes. From Dallas to Philly is a little less than three hours. You could even rent (hire) a car in Dallas and drive to New Orleans. According to Google maps, it’s 520 miles which they say would take 7 hours and 46 minutes of driving time. On the other hand, you’ll probably be exhausted and better off not hopping into a car and getting behind the wheel — not to mention driving on the “wrong side”. Also, if you end your drive in New Orleans, you could get back to Dallas and fly Qantas back home. I’m just thinking out loud here.


Lissie July 8, 2013 at 12:40 am

Yeah driving on the wrong side of the road is not a biggie for us – except if its a motor scooter but that’s a different story 🙂 I won’t drive jetlagged though – far to easy to die!

One of the things we are trying to avoid is one-way car rental fees – and as there is far more places to see around Philly (some little towns called Washington and NYC) I’d probably prefer to do the before/after stuff out of there rather than begin/end in NO. I hadn’t thought of looping back to Dallas – but its handy to end at rellies – so we can drop all the stuff we don’t need with them – and pick up all the shopping I’ve had delivered from Amazon 🙂

Much to think about 🙂


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