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1/21/2009

Wordy Wednesday

Well, a few words anyway.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I worked for what is now NWA. Then it was known as Northwest Orient Airlines. I worked the ticket counter at O'Hare International Airport. It's still called O'Hare. It's named after Butch O'hare, a navy pilot shot down and killed in the Pacific during World War II. Anyway, as a ticket agent, I used the computer system to make reservations, check reservations, sell tickets, print tickets for customers who either purchased tickets at the counter or came to the counter to pay for their reserved tickets, and check flights on other airlines to the same destination when a passenger missed a flight. Because in those days, a ticket on one airline would be accepted by another airline - it was, then, a matter of law. You see, the Federal Government regulated the airlines back then, to the point that even fares were a matter of regulation. Airlines competed through the quality of service, not through price. Anyway, everything in those days was done by phone call to the reservations department or in person at the ticket counter at the airport. In cash, mostly. Or American Express. But in person.

In those days, flying wasn't as common as it seems to be now. And people weren't as nonchalant in their attitude about flying, either. People would actually dress up to fly. Suits and ties, for men. Dresses and hats for women. Kids were dressed up when they flew, too. Which was rare.

When I fly on Thursday, I will be wearing jeans and a tee shirt. When I get on the plane in Miami, I will likely be wearing shorts. But that isn't the biggest change from what used to be.

Today, I got an email from American Airlines. With this email, I will be able to check in for my flight on Thursday evening - from home, tomorrow. From HOME. Annie called and made the flight reservations, and paid for the flights via credit card, from HOME. I will set up baggage checkin - from HOME.

Now you know why it takes so long for people who haven't done all of this stuff on the Internet to get it done at the ticket counter at the airport.

The ticket agents are lonely.

28 comments:

Suzanne said...

My first flight wasn't until the Summer of 1984. I felt a little underdressed, flying home to register for college-my trip to the World's Fair and points south cut short.
That reservation was made from a pay phone with my dad's "In case of emergency" Eastern Airlines Credit Card. It was the one and only time the card was used before the company folded.

In the past ten years, flying has been more frequent for me. In fact, I gathered all the details for a trip for work with the goal of getting me there CHEAP for my employer. I was rewarded with a hotel room that cost 10 bucks a day more than the per diem.

I'm glad that technology has come so far, but these ticketing agents need some company. Perhas we should introduce them to the Maytag repairman?

Shadow said...

how times have changed.... but sometimes, i dream in living in the olden days of dressing up, when smoking was fashionable, a kiss was a big deal....

moneythoughts said...

I remember the exact day of my first commercial airline flight because it was paid for by the U.S. Government. I got aboard a Delta jet in Covington, KY, (Cincinnati's airport) and flew south to Ft. Jackson South Carolina. I remember my eye twitched a little that evening as I was starting on two new journeys that night. One, the flight that would last a few minutes, the other fortunately lasted only two years. In the '60's they served food on real china with metal utensils too.

calicobebop said...

I usually wear stretchy pants and running shoes when I fly. That one time where I chose to wear clogs and had to hightail it from one gate to another is forever embedded in my memory of horrors.

Hooray for the ease of checking in - I hope you have a safe, wonderful trip!

ConverseMomma said...

I love the fact that things are streamlined now, that I can check in with a computer screen. This makes it easier for the traveling mommy who is lugging two squirmy toddlers and a ton of bags. But, there is something lost by the human reaction, isn't there? So glad to be allowed access here again :)

Ree said...

Not to mention out of practice! ;-)

maggie's mind said...

I definitely remember the rare treat of flying when I was little and how dressed up we would get. It was a big deal. While I absolutely *love* the convenience of doing everything from the computer screen at home, I do miss some of the classiness of flying. Now it's become kind of horrible. Still, it's nice to end up where you want to be at the end of it, and it's faster than walking or swimming. ;)

Momisodes said...

I definitely remember those days. They also gave you tons of stuff while flying, too Now, you're lucky if you get water.

You may want to bring a jacket. My friends and family down in Miami just said it's near freezing with the wind chill. Hope it warms up!

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

Great story!

I remember my first flight (at 16) and my Mom forcing me to wear a dress and my brothers ties. Now I'm just happy when the person sitting next to me doesn't take their shoes off!

Nicole said...

The ticket agents are lonely - hilarious :D
Most likely either the passenger or the agent, or both don't know what the heck they are doing ;)

Anyway, have a safe flight and most of all: Have tons of fun! :)

Theresa said...

Except that the automated scanner thingy won't be working and everybody that did all the online stuff will still have to go to the not-so-lonely counter staff. Well at lest that's what happened to me. *knock on wood for you*

Jientje said...

I think people in America fly a lot more than us Europeans. But flying is not as pleasant and as comfortable compared to say, fifteen years ago.

Anyway, have a safe trip.
And a safe one back again.

witchypoo said...

Happy trails, darlin. Hope you have the bestest trip evah.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

It's nice to have the techy convenience, but it also would be nice to go back to actual customer service on airlines too! Hope your flight is perfect.

Christy said...

I was a travel agents in the 80's.....just when the tide was turning.

So I saw both "styles"...

Jibber Jabber said...

I remember when I used to fly to Florida and other destinations... Now, with 3 children and a husband who is reluctant to fly, I don't expect to be on an airplane anytime soon. :(

Meanwhile, have a fabulous trip! Sandy is right, bring a jacket, it can be cool in Florida now, even for a brief layover.

tiff said...

LOL, they're lonely?

I hope you have a nice trip.

The first time I flew was to Tasmania. I was a brownie and I went without my parents. It was scary, exciting, bewildering and exilerating all at once. I'll never forget it.

SECRET AGENT MAMA said...

My first flight was at 11, to Macedonia, and I only remember the big movie screen. Don't remember what played on it, though.

I hear some stories from Michael when he jump seats home or out to work. Doozies!

Employee No. 3699 said...

As Momisodes mentioned, it is a bit nipply in Florida right now. When I was down there last week it was in the sixties during the day and the low fifties at night.

I hope you have an absolutely wonderful time in Trinidad! Looking forward to hearing all about it, with pictures too.

Julie said...

My favorite part of the new technology is that you can give them your cell phone number and then get an automated call telling you the status of the flight. Saves me from spending hours hanging around the cell phone lot at the airport waiting for my husband's flight to get in (he flies for work a ton. We have over 100,000 frequent flier miles, which I hope to take much advantage of this spring.)

Julie said...

Dang. Forgot to say, have a safe and comfortable flight (ha. not bloody likely, but one can wish it for you anyway) and really really enjoy the Trinidad.

LceeL said...

Suzanne: Actually, they might teach the Maytag guy some bad habits - so probably not.

Shadow: Oh, yeah, back then a kiss was a big deal and you had to be a PLAYER to get to second base.

Moneythoughts: Yes - back then the food was actually good.

Calicobebop: Thank you, ma'am. Mmmmmm, stretchy pants ...

Conversemomma: I'm glad you're back, too. some people had problems with the inline comment form. Thus the return to the popout comment form.

Ree: Let's see .. lonely .. out of practice ... sounds like George Bush.

Maggie's Mind: Well, yeah! It's at least faster than swimming. Especially going southeast out of Chicago.

Momisodes: Warm up? Hey. It's over 32 degrees, right?

Colleen: Oh God, I'd never take off my shoes.

Nicole: Thank you, Nicole. I will have tons of fun.

Theresa: Please. Knock on wood PLEASE??

Jientje: I'll have a safe trip - both ways.

Witchypoo: Thank you, ma'am. With you on my side, NOTHING CAN GO WRONG - right?

HollyATOM: Thank you, Holly. I'm hoping so, too.

Christy: I've been flying (as a passenger) for many years - so I have been witness to the many, many, changes.

Jibber Jabber: We're staying in a hotel at the airport Friday night - we WILL BE WARM.

Tiff: My first flight was on a DC-7 in 1962 on my way to boot camp in San Diego.

Secret Agent Mama: No, no, don't be tellin' no stories.

Employee No. 3699: Nippy on the bippy?

Julie: That's a LOT of freq miles.

Nan said...

Duuude! See you this weekend! I will probably kidnap you on Tuesday to go Plein Aire Painting (You can borrow stuff if you haven't packed anything) And we will definitely see you this weekend. I should have emailed you days ago to say "Pack paints!" But never mind.

Julie said...

Lou -- that is a close up of a paw print...not poop.

Patsy said...

That was an intersting thought.

Hyphen Mama said...

When it becomes so easy, I stand there thinking "I MUST have forgotten to do something. I'm positive I'll get to the gate and they'll send me back to the ticket counter because I didn't do something!!"

Indigo said...

It's amazing, yet worrisome at times how much less face time people actually get with others on account of the internet.

I can't complain, for me being Deaf it definately makes life easier. It just seems as if it alienates that human connection we get with strangers, even more. (Hugs)Indigo

Eric S. said...

I remember the first flight I took. I was 12, and my mother had a conference in LA. We flew from Denver to LA, and it was a big deal to us. They served real food, and the flight attendants paid attention to children. Handing out wings, made of some kind of tin. Mother invited we wear our best, and was constantly reminding us to be on our best behavior.

The next flight after that was when I was flown to Fort Jackson South Carolina, Peace time, thank goodness. Fort Jackson seems to be a familiar trend in your comments.