HALLIE EPHRON: We're all on the road these days, passing through various and sundry airports. Usually it's that same old, same old, and you're just lucky to get where you're going without a delay. But every once in a while I get pleasantly surprised.
For example, kudoes to the smarter-than-your-average toilets in United's new Terminal B at Logan - they don't flush while you're sitting on them. And those Dyson hand dryers are a trip.
Favorite airport sign: In Milwaukee, you emerge from TSA screening to the RECOMBULATION AREA. Security with a sense of humor - now that's something in short supply.
Appleton Airport with its 8 gates was pure bliss. Extra points for excellent bratwurst, the perfect way to say good-bye to Wisconsin.
And recently for some reason I have started to get tickets marked TSA Pre-Check. Bliss, getting to keep my shoes on and zip through the short line.
O'hare, on the other hand, is an airport that's just too big for its own good. Even with an hour between flights there's not enough time to get from one end of the airport to the other... and why should you have to when you're not even changing airlines?
So what are you thumbs up and thumbs down travel experiences lately in airport.
RHYS BOWEN: I'm glad you asked, Hallie, as I'm in the middle of a long trip and have already experienced the good, the bad and the very ugly. The latter was London Heathrow where the immigration officials have been on go-slow for a while now. We stood for an hour and a quarter in a line that snaked back and forth and then out of the area door, while there were TWO desks open to process travelers.. Disgusting.
My least favorite airports in US? Denver because there is 1 security line for every airline. Dallas because it takes hours to walk between gates. O'Hare because my flights are always being delayed or canceled for snow, thunderstorms, etc etc. Ditto San Francisco experiences delays and cancellations when there is wind or fog as they close one runway.
Oakland, on the other hand, is terrific. And I too now have TSA preapproval which makes the experience much more pleasant.
LUCY BURDETTE: Okay, Hallie, if you want to see a smart toilet, you must go to Japan. Their toilets are heated, with multiple settings for bidet and other washes which I will not detail:). On the other hand, they also have stalls with "Eastern" toilets--basically holes in the ground. And your thigh muscles had better be in good shape, if you get my drift...
We came back through customs to the US in Dallas. They were so friendly and kind and efficient. I said to John: "somehow these people have missed the in-service grouch training that the customs people in the JFK airport all have!"
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I am in LOVE with TSA Pre-check. It makes me so happy it is almost ridiculous.
Now. Here's the bad. I am also blissfully happy when I get Boarding Group one, and I pay for it. You know, to make sure I get overhead space.
So you get to the boarding time, and they call over the PA: "Please, we are now boarding our super-duper Global customers. Next our double priority customers." (Or whatever they call them), "And now, first class." Pause pause.
About a MILLION people get on.
Then they say: "Now boarding our platinum customers, and our diamond customers."
Pause pause, a million more people get on.
I HAVE PAID FOR GROUP ONE, I think, How can there be PRE-ONE?
"Now boarding our emerald customers," she says. "And then, our ruby and sapphire customers". Pause.
"Followed by priority/premier boarding."
I am SEETHING.
"And now we are happy to board our group ones." Why is there something higher than ONE??
(And! What's the difference if you walk down the blue boarding lane as opposed to the general boarding lane? It all goes to the same place.)
HALLIE: My mother used to say that about eating the food that I'd spilled my milk all over... eat it, it all goes to the same place.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hank, that is so funny. I get group one when I fly American AND buy my ticket with my AA Mastercard. Otherwise I pay for it. And then I think, who are all these other people who get on FIRST???? And the blue boarding lane! Sometimes I just want to be rebel and run down it!
TSA Precheck is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now I'm just afraid that everyone will find out you can pay to get it (assuming you're not a KNOWN criminal.) So, shhhh.
Favorite airport? I have to say I love DFW, because I never have to change planes there:-) I do miss flying into Gatwick when I come to the UK, which I did for years until Heathrow built T5 and American moved their flights to Heathrow to compete with BA. But American flies into T3, not the glamorous T5, and that is no fun at all...
HALLIE: So what are your thumbs-up/thumbs-down travel experiences? Does anyone know what IS the deal about walking down the blue boarding lane? And Shhhh, don't tell anyone about pre-check. Please.