You would think that by now I would know better than to pack all of my flying into the can of worms we call “Summer.” Jam-packed airplanes, glass-ceilinged terminal buildings that simmer like crock pots, unaccompanied kids in droves and cancellations galore, and for some reason, I stack my schedule like I don’t want to miss a single minute of it. (Santa Fe spas are awesome, after all, but they ain’t free.) But Summertime flying is a topic for another post. (Or “series of rants;” we’ll see where that takes us.) Hard as I’ve been hittin’ it the last couple weeks, though, it hasn’t been all bad. As I’ve mentioned in posts past, I am a mad fan of the downtown layover, and of all of the diversions they provide, and I have lucked into a few of them lately. Cute cafes and boys in shorts are but the first two things that leap to mind as being more plentiful and more fun in a City Center than at airport-adjacent lodgings, and my pro-cafe, pro-boys-in-shorts stance is longstanding and unambiguous. But last week, on an unexpected and uncommon trip with not one but two downtown layovers, I reconnected, at long last, with one of the best things about being a writer who flies: America’s Bookstores. Continue reading
As we all know, that Petula Clark was no dummy. Easy and unfettered access to hot guys roaming the streets at lunch hour is not necessarily a requirement for an enjoyable layover, but it never hurts, and is definitely one of the major benefits of staying downtown vs. at some airport Hilton. Fine guys in the street are the only reason that anybody goes to Sydney (deny it, flight attendants, if you dare), but domestically, where the flight time (if not always the duty day) is much shorter, a Downtown Layover is a rare and coveted thing and one of the few things for which every flight attendant is willing to fight.
See, when our airline was in bankruptcy, they slashed and burned many of our favorite sections of our contract in the name of Cost Savings (figuring that calling it Executive Bonus Enhancement would be harder for the court to publicly endorse, although that is precisely where the “savings” went). Before that, we went downtown on any layover over 13 hours, where shops, restaurants, museums, and yeah, even the hot locals were just steps from the hotel lobby. Now we have to be in town at least 20 hours before the company is required to put us downtown (or in a “downtown-like location”). For a layover shorter than 20 hours (up to, and often exasperatingly including, those of 19 hours and 59 minutes), the company can put us up in an airport hotel, where nothing is steps from the hotel lobby and you usually have a direct view from your room of the terminal, including a very literal view of The Horse You Rode In On, lest the company’s Screw You inherent in a long airport layover be lost.