Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, just back from my annual trek to Malice Domestic and down with a post-conference head cold that may affect how coherent this post is.
One thing stands out when I fly these days—flying isn’t as much fun as it used to be. For one thing, even the shortest trip kills the entire day. Wilton, Maine to Bethesda, Maryland? A little over an hour and a half in the car to arrive at the Portland International Jetport two hours ahead of the flight. A delay of half an hour. Then about an hour and a half in the air followed by an unknown amount of time on the runway at Reagan and waiting at baggage claim followed by nearly another hour in a cab in rush hour traffic. No wonder I’m worn out before I even get to the hotel!
Once upon a time, a trip like this was much more relaxed. Before security became so tight, prohibiting anyone who didn’t have a boarding pass from the gate area, Sandy and I used to arrive at the airport, check me in and check my luggage, and then go upstairs to a lovely restaurant with views of the runway and have a nice meal together while waiting for my flight to be called. That hasn’t been possible for a long time now.
In those days, Portland News had a store that anyone could access, before you went into the gate area. In addition to newspapers and sundries, they had lots of books by local authors. I was even part of a display there once.
In more recent memory, the Portland Jetport had a business center in the gate area. There were desks with sound baffles where I could go and work on a manuscript while waiting for my plane to board. Plugs for laptops. A printer was available. Not high tech by today’s standards, but away from the bustle and confusion of the waiting area. I was often the only one using the area, which probably explains why they did away with it in favor of adding more seating space to the Shipyard Restaurant.
The latest upgrade (and I use the term loosely) put in three kinds of chairs in the waiting area: a few wooden rocking chairs, I suppose for local color; massage chairs, for which you have to insert a dollar; and chairs that are ergonomically correct if you want to lean back a bit and read a book or people-watch, but which don’t work at all well if you’re trying to type. Flat surface for your laptop or tablet? Forget about it.
Back in those “good old days” flights were rarely cancelled even if they were only half full. I can remember having two empty seats next to me and being able to curl up and take a nap while flying. There was more knee room, too. The airlines offered freebies, everything from food to playing cards, and supplied an assortment of current magazines to read. Their routes were more convenient, too. Delta used to go through Cincinnati when you were flying from one coast to the other. Now everything goes through Atlanta. Excuse me? Hundreds of miles south when I want to go due west? What kind of sense does that make? And don’t try to get from Portland (or Bangor) to Boston these days. Where once several airlines ran regular flights between those points, now there are none.
Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of over fifty books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award in 2008 for best mystery nonfiction for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2014 in the best mystery short story category for “The Blessing Witch.” Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (The Scottie Barked at Midnight) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in the Merchant’s Hall) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” series and is set in Elizabethan England. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com