This weekend I flew from Boston to Austin, via Chicago, to get to the Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association annual convention. For the first time in what seems like forever, security lines were short, TSA employees were attentive, and the skies were relatively clear and turbulence-free. Even better, the pilot of the plane on the Chicago-Austin leg was a hoot! While we were waiting at the gate before pushback, he did some “howya doing, folks” kinds of comments, then pulled out a harmonica and played us a Texas-sounding tune—and this was on American, not Southwest! Even better, he played the harp beautifully. Of course, the couple sitting next to me, who were coming off a long trip from the U.K., wondered if his exuberance might have come from a bottle naw, he was just a happy guy.
The wildest thing was a storm that we skirted mid-route, somewhere near St. Louis, I think. There we were at 31,000 feet, and the thunderheads towered at least a mile higher than we were, while below swirled some of the evilest looking black clouds I’ve ever seen. We could see a jet probably 15 miles closer to it that us bounce along the very edge of the storm—I was just glad it was them and not us, selfish beast that I am.
Then there’s the Austin airport, about the most welcoming airport I’ve seen yet. Full of light inside, beautifully landscaped with gardens and waterfalls outside, it was a pleasure to hang out and wait for the SuperShuttle to arrive (which, by the way, has instituted a $1 per-passenger energy surcharge and so it begins).
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