Air travel is not my favorite thing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my most hated thing. My most hated thing is slow internet. But air travel is up there.

I am not afraid to fly, it’s waiting in lines I don’t like. And that’s what air travel is, waiting in lines.

The airline even recommends that you arrive two hours in advance so you can already be in line when they delay your flight due to “maintenance issues.”

Also, I’m not crazy about passengers who snore. I just finished a flight where the man next to me admitted beforehand that he snored.

“I’m just gonna give you fair warning,” he said. “I snore really, loud.”

What was I supposed to say to that? Mazel tov? Should I have thanked him?

Then again, I have no room to judge those who snore. My wife says I snore badly. Last year for my birthday, she bought me an anti-snoring device. I believe they call it a taser.

The man beside me snored hard. So I wore headphones to listen to music. But there was a problem. Apparently, my cell phone had only one song stored on it, which was Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On.”

I like Hank Snow as much as the next guy, but after four replays of this country hit, I realized that my life was falling apart.

Thus, I had two options: I could either turn off Hank Snow and listen to the hyperventilating grizzly bear beside me. Or, I could listen to Hank Snow until I cracked and did something that would cause the air marshall to subdue me.

So I replayed Hank.

When we reached Atlanta, I had to go to the bathroom. I only had fifteen minutes to catch my connecting flight, and there was a long line for the restroom.

“Why’re we waiting in line?” I asked the man ahead of me.

“Because,” he said. “Only two urinals are in service.”

“Welcome to Atlanta,” said another man.

Men in line were gyrating, pumping their legs, groping themselves, and wincing in pain. A four-year-old boy had to go so bad that his father marched him into the bathroom and held him up to the sink. The kid did his best to miss the mirror.

After the bathroom, I sprinted to catch the train to my connecting flight. I boarded a full train car. An elderly woman boarded after me. She was towing a suitcase that was the size of New London, Connecticut.

I offered her my seat because my mother would have insisted on this. But the woman looked at me funny.

She scoffed and said, “I’m listening to music, I don’t want your seat.” Then she put on earphones, closed her eyes, and tuned me out.

But this was a mistake on her part because when our train got going—and these trains go very fast—she was jolted off her feet and fell backward onto a man who was eating what appeared to be tortilla soup.

When I reached my gate, I was out of breath. I thought I was late, but I wasn’t. There was a crowd of sixteen hundred passengers—get this—waiting in another line.

The man ahead of me was a businessman from Des Moines. He wore a flat look and said, “Maintenance issues.”

We waited for two hours. Two.

It is hard not to feel like livestock in this kind of scenario. All you can do is stand, and occasionally “moo” to show disapproval.

When we boarded, people were storing bags in overhead compartments. The woman beside me tried to fit her bag in, but it wasn’t working. The flight attendant told her she would have to check her bag, and the woman started yelling.


This lady was losing her mind. So a few of us tried to calm her down. When she came to her senses she buckled herself in beside me and apologized.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just hate to fly, and I hate airports.”

I understood this of course. And I told her as much. Because there is nothing easy about flying. It takes a toll on the human mind. But for all its quirks, at least it’s a safe way to travel. I am grateful for that.

Before takeoff, I looked out the window and noticed fluid leaking from a jet engine on my side. It was a very crucial-looking, greenish fluid, making a puddle on the tarmac.

I felt better when a man wearing a uniform inspected the leak, which was really spewing. The man stared at the leak, then looked at the cockpit and gave the “thumbs up” sign to the pilot.

“Wait a second,” I said to the woman beside me. “A thumbs up? Someone should really tell the—”

And we took off.

The woman placed an eye mask over her face. She said, “Just a fair warning, sweetie, I snore.”

I don’t ever want to hear Hank Snow again.


  1. Martha Owens - June 20, 2019 10:50 am

    I can relate to the details of your flight. I have avoided flying for several years for the same reasons you describe. I much prefer driving where I go, but sometimes the most practical choice is flying. I read your message every morning, and look forward to it every day.

  2. Linda - June 20, 2019 11:12 am

    I once read excellent advice for flying .
    When you walk thru the door of any airport – you have lost any control you thought you had. You are at their mercy and really – that is a good thing.
    Their mission is to get you to the next place SAFELY. That IS what is most important. Once you give up all control and let them do their job…you can settle down and just enjoy people watching, catching up on your email , reading a really good book….and listening to more than one song that you have put on your phone or I pod, Sean.?

  3. Naomi - June 20, 2019 11:33 am

    I live in Atlanta and I could write a book about the Atlanta airport in general. I worked for the federal government in the 1970s and early 1980s and had to travel a lot for business. One month alone I was on a plane 16 times. That’s when planes were being hijacked to Cuba and we didn’t have any security. My husband also worked for the federal government and was in the AF, ANG and Air Reserve for 42 years. After he retired, we started traveling for pleasure. We have been to 32 countries and have been back to several of them more than once. We have also flown all over the United States. We went to NYC to visit my aunt right after 9-11 and there was no security; they didn’t even ask us if we packed our own bags. The last time we flew anywhere was in Feb., 2014, to take a cruise to the Panama Canal. Two days before we were scheduled to leave, there was a major snow storm in Atlanta and all flights were canceled. Because of a mix up in our tickets, we had to leave a day early and ended up spending 10 hours in the Miami Airport. Once we got to our ship, after being up for almost 30 hours, our ship was not ready to board. On the return trip, we flew out of LAX and again, we were up for over 30 hours and didn’t get home until 2 AM. The moving sidewalks and the train at the Atlanta Airport were not working and our plane stopped at the last gate at the last terminal in the airport. We decided then that we are too old to keep putting ourselves through this so we quit traveling. I have a suggestion for you, Sean. Get a noise-canceling head phone. I had to get one many years ago because I have tinnitus and loud noises give me a vertigo attack. You can plug it in and listen to the movie or listen to music or listen to something on your computer or just not listen to anything at all and just take a nap.

  4. Ginger Clifton - June 20, 2019 12:02 pm

    Flying may be your focus, but lines seems to emerge as a close second. You should go to WM on Fri./Sat. the first of the month. You don’t have the green liquid, but you must watch out for scooters going above the speed limit, and associates who are oblivious to the lines to the back of the store, but continue to discuss things like, “What time do you go to lunch?”

  5. Keloth Anne - June 20, 2019 12:05 pm

    Flying is not my favorite thing to do—I love getting to my destination quickly but the take offs and landings always make me sooo nervous!! The very worse thing that happens to me is the person beside me takes off their shoes and oh the smell is horrible ??. It makes breathing so difficult!!! And they fall asleep and put their head on my shoulder—-ugh??

  6. aerialhorizon - June 20, 2019 12:39 pm

    Sean, I always enjoy your writing…As an airline pilot, I just want you to know that I feel your pain. When I’m riding in the back, should I decide to take a nap, I always tell the person next to me that if I should start to snore, they should feel free to give me a sharp elbow in the ribs (and I won’t mind). No one has taken me up on this yet… Cheers.

  7. Sue - June 20, 2019 12:51 pm


  8. Karen - June 20, 2019 1:02 pm

    I relate to every word you said, and I do everything in my power to avoid flying. It is a nightmare.

  9. Shelton A. - June 20, 2019 1:05 pm

    Soooo….put some more music on your phone. Lots more. And I hate everything about flying but especially the lines. The TSA is a plot by the CIA to spy on Americans. I mean, they see your behavior in the line. Then they can check out everything you carry for trip-revealing your lifestyle and economic status. It’s a conspiracy!

  10. Jamie Carmichael - June 20, 2019 1:13 pm

    I hear you brother. A recent airport experience inspired the following:

    The Middle Seat

    I have traveled the world many times ‘round,
    I’ve seen the all the sights and heard all the sounds.
    But the time point-to-point to me is a blur,
    A horrible memory I’d just assume curb.

    Sitting quite still since who knows when,
    In a cage conceived by Ho Chi Minh,
    Maybe it’s right to think me a boob,
    For hating this wretched, time-saving tube.

    But give me a ship and a star!
    Buy me a drink at a bar,
    Give me a dance and a song,
    A soft bed to sleep in, ere long.

    I think we’ve forgotten the art,
    Of travel to destiny’s arc.
    The journey is part of the story, for sure — 
    Not a terrible evil we all must endure.

    The “food” makes me choke,
    I can’t even smoke…
    At least there are booze,
    With them, you can’t lose.

    Oh, give me a ship and a star!
    Buy me a drink at a bar,
    Give me a dance and a song,
    A soft bed to sleep in, ere long.

    I think I’ve found the level of hell,
    That Dante ignored — for shame! — foretell,
    That nothing would drive men more to pray,
    Than threatening a long haul from Perth to L.A.

    There’s no more dinner and show,
    No fetching company to know,
    No walks on a broad, wooden deck,
    You’re lucky if the loo ain’t wrecked.

    Oh, give me a ship and a star!
    Buy me a drink at a bar,
    Give me a dance and a song,
    A soft bed to sleep in, ere long.

    Breathing stale air for hours,
    Soon I’ll be pushing up flowers.
    I need a good stretch and a meal,
    I need a few winks I can steal.

    And, worse, to board this awful plane,
    What one endures is quite insane.
    To have one’s privates groped by strangers,
    “It’s all to keep you safe from dangers.”

    Oh, find me a ship and a star!
    Start me a tab at the bar,
    Join me in dance and a song,
    The journey is over, ere long.

  11. Connie Havard Ryland - June 20, 2019 1:21 pm

    I don’t mind flying and I’ve never really had a bad issue at an airport other than having to sprint to catch a connecting flight. I would rather drive anywhere and everywhere, but time constraints keep us moving ever faster to keep up. Enjoy your trip. Be safe. Love and hugs.

  12. Joe Patterson - June 20, 2019 1:30 pm

    I would never make it through the Atlanta airport without my girls We get off the flight from Huntsville and they start saying hurry up dad we will miss our flight to Ft Myers . We run down the hall jump on a train get off run down a long hall finally get there .Then we wait in line still beats hell out of driving.Keep writing we need you.

  13. Steve Bailey - June 20, 2019 1:34 pm

    now that’s funny…

  14. Edna B. - June 20, 2019 1:46 pm

    Flying isn’t my idea of fun either, but sometimes it is very necessary. Be thankful that you don’t have to rely on someone to push you in a wheelchair. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  15. Pat - June 20, 2019 1:59 pm

    I can go to heaven satisfied if I never have to fly again!

  16. Ken Dunn - June 20, 2019 3:04 pm

    You know the old joke that if you live in the South and die- whether you go to heaven or hell- you first have to go through the Atlanta airport. In ’92 I was part of a church group going to Israel and Egypt for 10 days. We flew non-stop from Atlanta to Tel-Aviv, Israel. The guy in the seat next to me was blind. Still haven’t figured out why a blind guy would want to go on a 10 day tour of Israel and Egypt but that was his life-long dream come true. Anyway I wish he would have just snored. While sleeping he snored but had his face turned toward me breathing on me and his breath was worse than a polecat. Don’t think he had ever brushed his teeth or gargled with Listerine. Then to top off my bad luck he sat next to me on the flight back from Cairo, Egypt to Atlanta. Since then he has died but got to live out his dream. I’m pretty sure he will be one of the first to greet when I get to heaven- after passing through the Atlanta airport.

  17. kyra bowman - June 20, 2019 3:23 pm

    Perfect timing! I am flying from San Antonio to Burlington, VT tomorrow. I could get to Europe more quickly. I am praying for no “maintenance issues.”

  18. Linda Moon - June 20, 2019 4:03 pm

    Air Travel: BAD. Road Trips: GOOD. Hank Snow: GOOD. I can appreciate your gratitude for air-flight safety. However, if there’s engine trouble you can’t just pull over to the side of the road or the nearest river….like the Hudson, for instance. Don’t give up on HANK SNOW, please!

  19. Jeanette McElroy - June 20, 2019 4:54 pm

    I am laughing so much…just so you know! You are so real!

  20. Cathy Moss - June 20, 2019 6:26 pm

    Flying is everything you said and then some. Was with girl cousins last week in Nola and we recalled the first time that we flew. I was accompanying my dad on a business trip and then on to visit my two cousins. I was dressed as if for church and I can still remember how excited I was . That probably tells you that I am a senior citizen. While I am in good shape and love to travel , that airport thing is just not worth feeling dirty at the end of the flight. I am not a spoiled woman, but if I can’t fly first class, I will be content to be in my comfortable, clean home. Americans have become sloppy. They travel in their PJs and less. Sorry you have to fly Sean. You are a great guy and I love your columns. Love to you and Jamie. ?

  21. Jack Darnell - June 21, 2019 2:59 am

    I hate slow internet and I like to fly but hate the lines, so I do not.

  22. DONNA - June 22, 2019 6:13 am

    Sean, I am sorry for your flying troubles. One thing that definitely improves flying through ATL is Paschal’s Restaurant in Terminal B. Very good Southern Food, especially for an airport. It is served via a tiny cafeteria, and you can usually find a seat … or take it to go. Greens, fried okra, peach cobbler, cornbread …. Happy travels, and from your writing I infer that it beats those jobs you used to have! — peace, dc (a Southern girl in New Mexico)

  23. Bill T - June 22, 2019 5:52 pm

    Since I am retired military I am eligible to travel on military aircraft on a Space Available basis, which I have done a quite a bit. I’ve gone back to Germany about 14 times in various aircraft in various configurations.There is no guarantee you will leave, get there or get back -its mission oriented. Most seats are fold down web type but some have regular airline type seats, but backwards. I’ve been stuck a couple of times on this side of the big pond and had to turn around and come home. Seasoned SpaceA’ers know to carry sleeping bags or air mattresses (I used disposable $2 pool floats) and sleep on the plane floor.
    But best of all it was free and an adventure. Sadly age and infirmities has stopped my “adventures” but Space A beats going thru the indignities of an airline terminal any day.

  24. Marilyn Barrett - July 20, 2019 12:45 pm

    I was stuck in the Newark airport two weeks ago for 22 HOURS !!! I swore I would NEVER fly again. I could have driven home to NC more than once in the time it took for the airline to get its act together. That was coming home, did I mention the 9 hour delay going, and missing my connecting international flight ? It resulted in a day’s delay in Atlanta where fortunately, I knew someone kind enough to come and get me so I could spend the night on a couch. NEVER AGAIN. If I could swim the Atlantic I might go again, but I doubt in my lifetime anything will be invented to replace an aluminum tube traveling at 600 MPH thru the air. I just won’t go anywhere else that I cannot drive to myself.

  25. Russell McLaney - July 20, 2019 1:11 pm

    I’m Walking the Floor Over You, by Earnest Tubb, is a good snore cover song also!!

  26. Trisha White - July 20, 2019 1:26 pm

    I’ll be in the Atlanta airport this week…. thanks for the warning! Loving all of your stories! I think I’ll bring your new book I bought last week to read on my flight delays! ❤️

  27. Donald Dye - July 21, 2019 2:25 pm

    I was told “Noah’s flood” was because the angles that gave up their wings to live with mortals, the giants, and all the otherwise bad people needed to be removed so humanity could start over. Why would angles ever ‘give up their wings’?? Surely not to fly SouthWestern through Hotlanta or Albany and not to put up with the TSA security issues……. Love your stories…..

  28. Gloria Rumph - July 30, 2019 5:16 pm

    I used to love to fly however one bad experiences in Cincinnati changed all that! Still trying to get enough nerve to try agaiin! I want to see my family in Omaha!


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