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Airport indignities becoming a way of life

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Just between us sardines, for me personally, driving 10 hours on the freeway would be preferable to a five or six hour commercial flying experience.

Automobile travel is looking better every day.

In December, gasoline prices slipped below $3 a gallon after peaking at about $3.90 back in May. The other day, I filled up my pickup for under $70. It will take me nearly 450 miles down the freeway.

Meanwhile, I recently purchased a plane ticket to a city out west that cost as much as a 46-inch, HD TV.

You think the airlines are trying to tell us something?

The cost of flying out of the Memphis International Airport, the closest airport to my home, has been rated by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics as the highest among the top 100 largest airports in the United States. Passengers departing from the airport on a domestic roundtrip flight paid an average of $476.22. What I paid on a recent trip was almost double that, not counting the $50 (both ways) the airline charged to scuff up my new bag.

I could ship myself cheaper by Federal Express than what Memphis-based airlines are charging. The experience couldn’t be much worse than a commercial flight, where the airline seats are more suited for the cast of the Wizard of Oz than an average-sized Joe.

A couple of flights I’ve had lately were nothing short of epic in terms of time. By the time you figure in a cab ride, sitting on the tarmac, flight duration, a couple of layovers and filing a lost luggage report, you can spend nearly all day at an airport.

Then there is the whole loss of dignity thing. Commercial flying never has been a particularly pleasant experience, but the incursion into personal space has reached new lows with state-of-the-art scanning devices that not only can see through your clothes but actually sniff them.

What’s worse is that most people have accepted airport indignity as a way of life.

One can stumble breathless, wide-eyed and shoeless into an airport concourse, shirt tail hanging out, boarding pass and driver’s license clenched between your teeth, holding up your britches with one hand and dragging a ragged wardrobe bag turned on its side behind you, and nobody will pay you any attention.

Just between us sardines, for me personally, driving 10 hours on the freeway would be preferable to a five or six hour commercial flying experience.

My next trip will be the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, which commence next week in Orlando, Fla. I’m going to have plenty of leg room on this trip. There will be no screaming babies in the seat behind me. My luggage will always be within reach, I don’t have to be strip-searched, and I can roll down my window without getting sucked out.

Chevy Silverado extended cab, here I come.

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