From Maui to LA … in Silence.

LOS ANGELES–One of the pleasures of travel–at least for me–is meeting and having conversations with other people. Not last night. The guy next to me sat in stony silence for the entire five-hour flight from Maui to Los Angeles.
I did notice that he was busily texting on his smart phone while we were still 15-20 minutes out from Los Angeles. There had been the usual announcement at the beginning of the flight about putting our electronic devises on “airplane mode”, so I thought it was interesting that a flight attendant who was collecting trash, stopped at his seat while he was texting. He never looked up, just kept thumbing away on his device, but she never said a word to him.
So, what’s the scoop? Do smart phones operating in flight pose a threat to aviation or not? If so, why isn’t the regulation enforced? And if not, why the hell are we asking people to obey pointless rules?
On the hotel shuttle after collecting my bag, I sat across from a Delta pilot. We watched the driver of the van inching through the terrible traffic, stopping every 100 feet or so to pick up passengers, hauling their bags onto the van and stuffing them into the luggage rack.
The Delta pilot caught my eye and, nodding towards the sweating van driver, said, “Can you imagine doing that guy’s job eight hours a day?” No, I surely couldn’t. I slipped the guy a couple of dollars when he dragged my bag off the van. He smiled and said, “God bless you, sir.”
Tonight I’ll board Amtrak’s Southwest Chief for the two-night ride to Chicago. The schedule calls for a 6:10 p.m. departure and by 7 o’clock, I’ll be in the dining car enjoying a steak dinner with a half bottle of cabernet. I wonder who my dinner companions will be.
So . . . want to ask me again why I prefer to travel by train?