Flying to Pittsburgh -- 10/14/01

I'm in Pittsburgh this week... supposed to attend a three day class and then two days of knowledge transfer sessions with some gurus in that particular technical area, and then another instructor and I are supposed to see if -- based on what we can glean from the gurus -- we can "enhance" that basic three day class into a full week class for employees in our company's consulting wing.

I had a choice of an 11:15 am flight or a 3:20 pm flight (there is, I think, one later than that, but I didn't want to get here too late at night) and, given the extra time that they keep saying we need to allow for long check-in and security lines, I thought that 11:15 would require getting to the airport 'way too early in the morning so I opted for the mid-afternoon flight. So I left home a little before 11:30 a.m., drove to the airport (light traffic, half an hour or so)... well, not to the airport itself, actually to Thrifty Car Rental because they offer long term parking at competitive rates, shuttle service to and from the airport, and your car is waiting for you at their office when you get back. (I had a couple of miserable experiences after coming back on a late night flight, wandering around in the airport's long term parking lot at midnight in the rain trying to find my car in this dimly lit lot -- my eyeglasses have neither windshield wipers nor defoggers)... so Thrifty's shuttle van dropped me off at the terminal a few minutes past noon.

There were maybe ten people ahead of me at the USAirways counter -- I have never seen a line that short at their counter -- there always seemed to be at least forty or fifty people waiting, which is why I had always used skycap curbside check-in (that has been done away with as part of the new security measures) -- and not only was the line short, it moved very quickly, so that my turn came in just three or four minutes. I was told that the 11:15 plane had been delayed (actually, it had not yet arrived from its previous stop) but would be leaving at 12:50 and I could switch to that flight if I wished. Well, yeah, I sure would, not having any desire to sit around the airport for three hours. But could I have an aisle seat? Sure, no problem. Yes, I packed my bags myself, etc... They take my suitcase and I keep my laptop and head for the security gate.

There was a fairly long line at security but it moved quickly and even though there seemed to be additional steps compared with the past (I had to take my laptop out of the carry bag and send it through separately) things moved swiftly and I reached Gate 3 with half an hour to spare. In fact, the longest line I encountered was at a lunch counter, spent more time there than at the airline counter and the security check combined. There was, however, much more security than in the past -- the security check-in was not at all perfunctory and there was additional security at the departure gate where everyone had to show photo-id along with their boarding passes and some people were selected for an additional check with those hand-held metal detector wands and a search of their carry-on bag. (At the Pittsburgh airport, while waiting for my shuttle bus to town, I noticed parked trucks belonging to the police bomb squad and to their SWAT unit -- at Providence there were National Guard MP's on duty -- and probably in Pittsburgh as well, although I did not notice them.)

So I had an uneventful and comfortable flight and reached Pittsburgh earlier than I had expected... the only problem is that my suitcase did not make the trip with me. So here I am at my hotel, enjoying the view of downtown Pittsburgh from the 21st floor with my cell phone and my laptop and a paperback novel. I would really have enjoyed using some of this extra time to go for a nice run in the park that surrounds the original site of Fort Pitt. If I had been on my original flight I probably would not have reached the hotel until later on, but in that case I might have used the Hilton's fitness center (they have a very nice one, several treadmills, exercise bikes, universal machines and lots of free weights) but I can't do any of that because all of my workout clothes are in my suitcase.

Just checked email -- found that two people whose journals I read both sent email messages saying there would be no Saturday entry due to migraine headaches, which is interesting because I woke up very early Friday morning with a really bad (migraine-strength) headache and did not manage to drag myself into my office until afternoon. Wendy speculated that it might be due to change in weather... hmmmm, interesting hypothesis... I dunno, just glad that mine went away in the afternoon.

No suitcase yet -- guess I'll send out my notify email and go get some dinner.

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