The last (and only) time that I had flown was over ten years ago, on a family trip. I was just a teenager, and didn't have to deal with any of the arrangements. All I had to do was show up with my bags and have fun. So, I was a little bit nervous when it came to getting a plane from Madison to Pennsylvania for a friends wedding. It wasn't the actual flying that worried me, but the paperwork and bureacracy. From purchasing my ticket on Orbitz to checking in and getting my boarding passes, to going through security...I was positive that something would go wrong.
Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. Nothing went wrong buying the ticket. I got to the airport and got my boarding passes without problem. I was one of the random passengers selected to get felt up...er...go through extra security. (I can understand that searching everyone would be a difficult thing, time and moneywise, however, I don't see it as a deterant. Given that terrorists are willing to die for their cause, I don't think it that far from a possibility that they'd be willing to play the odds about being screamed. Get someone (or several someones) who doesn't "look Arab" to carry the stuff, and figure that not all of them will be searched. The ones that do get searched would be willing to suffer arrest, or even suicide, if caught.) I had no problems there, though my CD Discman that had tested fine the night before was no longer working after I went through. I think they spilled water from my water bottle onto the battery case.
The Dane County Airport is fairly pleasant. I'm sure it will be even more so when the remodeling construction is done, and one need not walk half a mile for the bathroom.
The plane for the first leg of my journey was a little regional flier. The seats were one across on the left, and two across on the right. I was on the left, right behind the wing. Though the wing blocked part of my view, I did get to watch the flaps go up and down. I watched with my nose practically pressed up against the window pretty much from takeoff to landing. What a neat feeling and view! I don't understand how anyone can get so blase about air travel that they don't even look. The only times I looked away where when the clouds obscured everything.
When we touched down in Cleveland, I only had time to stop at the restroom before heading to my next gate and reboarding, but what I saw of the airport was very nice. I don't think I'd mind future layovers in Cleveland.
This plane was a little larger than the first, with two across on the left, and three on the right. Once again, I was right behind the left wing. No one sat next to me, so I had both seats to myself. The jump from Cleveland to Detroit was quite brief. It was good that I'd already heard most of the pre-flight spiel earlier. The head flight attendent had a heavy Japanese accent, which combined with the distortion of the overhead speakers made her fairly impossible to understand.
The sun was setting as we landed in Detroit, but there was still enough light to look down and count the swimming pools and baseball fields below. The Detroit airport is super cool. (I'd say it was the bomb, but you don't say that word in airports.) I will happily make plane changes in Detroit again. Clean, beautiful, and well-laid out. I had enough time between planes to catch the moving sidewalk down to a McDonald's to grab some "food". As I walked, I admired the architecture, the hustle and bustle, and bright, candy-apple red train that frequently drove by over the gates.
The plane to Harrisburg was the same type as the one from Cleveland. This time, I was on the right side (once again, behind the wing). There was another person next to me, but only one, and we had an empty middle seat between us. Night had fallen, and the ground below us looked like a field of stars. Even the rural areas were speckled with lights. In fact, from our lofty perspective, it all looked as though it were one vast city. Here and there the lights would pool thickly in the more settled areas, and between them they thinned to a sprinkle, yet it all semed connected. It was one of the most beautiful things I've seen. And again, I was amazed that more people didn't turn off their reading lights and stare out the windows. Can such a sight ever become run of the mill?
The Harrisburg airpost also seemed fairly friendly, though I was a little wierded out when I left the security area to approach the baggage claim and saw, much to my surprise, a large collection of rocking chairs, many with people in them, facing the exit from the terminal. It just seemed a little incongruous at the time.