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What you don't want to hear on the redeye

Let's just all agree: It's a fallacy that you're ever going to get a "night's sleep" on a redeye flight from LA to NY—or, for that matter, from NY to most locations in Europe. First, you have an hour's worth of announcements about frequent flier plans and seat belt-buckling techniques. Then, no fewer than 20 warnings about electronic devices (though last night our flight attendant was clearly visible operating her iPod and phone throughout taxi, takeoff and climb, while making announcements to the contrary!) and then the clanking and banging in preparation for whatever meager service is offered on board. Last night, flying from LA to NY, an unwanted consequence of the current robust jet stream over the nation: Just after I'd taken a "sleep aid," the pilot (apparently Chuck Yeager) comes on to say "Good news folks...we'll only be four hours, 17 minutes en route to New York tonight." There are rockets that fly slower than we flew last night.

This was NOT welcome news. Hearing that guarantees I'll be walking through the terminal, at 5am, drug-addled and unable to pick out my own bag among the sea of 200 black rolling bags. Remember what the sign says next to the obnoxious buzzer on the carousel: "MANY BAGS LOOK ALIKE." Try it under the influence of a "sleep aid." On this trip, however, there was a linguistic upside: I did add a new expression or two to my travel lexicon. One announcement at LAX told waiting passengers their luggage would be "down-belted" shortly. Down-belted! Sounds like something L.L. Bean would sell. Another announcement at JFK informed us our bags would be "displayed" on Carousel 3!

Wow! Like the Price Is Right! Imagine! My bag...my old, battle-worn bag with no luggage tag and a broken zipper: They care enough about it to display it! How can I ever repay that nice woman?

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