Getting there is now one-tenth of one percent the fun

By: By Peter Funt - Contributing columnist

I’ve just returned from my summer vacation, which I now take in mid-May so I can use the remaining time until Labor Day to recover. Here’s what I learned.

At many airports the TSA’s Pre-Check lines are as long as the ordinary lines. Perhaps they need a Pre-Pre-Check line.

The policy of “boarding by group number” is out of control, with some airlines juggling as many as nine groups. It seems “priority” is now determined by what credit card you own.

To get passengers to watch safety demonstrations, airlines have turned to oddball presentations that have about as much to do with safety as a Luis Fonsi music video. In United’s clip, for example, patrons at what appears to be the Hofbrauhaus Tavern in Munich cavort as oxygen masks drop mysteriously from the ceiling.

American Airlines should rethink the layout of its 767-300 cabins. On my flight, four people hit their heads on low-hanging overhead bins, with me being the grouchiest among them.

In addition to being overstuffed with passengers and their bulky carry-ons, many flights are now packed with pets. Seems even the healthiest travelers depend on “service” animals.

When renting a car, I’ve always wondered why companies don’t provide the owner’s manual, especially since today’s cars have such confusing instrumentation. My Volvo had a nice GPS screen, but the map covered a 500 mile swath because I didn’t realize that every time I adjusted what I assumed was the radio knob, I was expanding the map.

I asked the Avis guy why no manual. He explained that too many customers steal them but then, to my surprise, he confided that in most cars Avis hides the manual in the trunk under the spare tire. Result: fewer manuals go missing, while more motorists have no idea how to turn on the windshield wipers.

If you’re planning to vacation in a foreign country, remember that many use a 24-hour clock. My wife Amy mistakenly made all of our dinner reservations for 7:30 in the morning.

Bad news on the hotel front. Some chains are switching to wall-mounted soap dispensers like the kind in public restrooms, to avoid the cost of those tiny soaps. Listen, some of us like lathering certain areas with a bar of soap rather than with our hand. Besides, I’d hate to run out of little hotel bars at home and, for the first time in my adult life, have to buy soap.

Note: at breakfast, toasters with a rotating wire wheel don’t accomplish anything on a single pass; it takes three times through to get a bagel slightly browned. Also, do-it-yourself waffle makers are a mess.

Don’t bother asking the front desk for a newspaper, since younger clerks seem not to have heard of them. And don’t inquire at a Holiday Inn Express about a good local restaurant unless what you’re hoping to find is Applebee’s.

As you head home, be aware that nowadays the only way to distinguish your suitcase at baggage claim is to not tie a ribbon on the handle.

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By Peter Funt

Contributing columnist

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent those of the newspaper.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent those of the newspaper.