I travel for a living.

I’ve been on planes since I was 25 years old. When I see people walking through airports with therapy dogs, I roll my eyes. You better be a veteran with PTSD or I’m calling bullshit on your small, adorable animal.

Except I keep having these horrible experiences at airports, and it’s killing me. I am starting to understand why people have those therapy dogs.

Long delays and computer systems that don’t talk to one another. Storms that strand me in small towns — hundreds of miles away from major hubs — without many options to get home.

It’s easier to fly to Paris than Cincinnati, which is why I need a therapy dog.

I talked a young woman off the ledge, the other day, at the Charlotte airport. She is a dentist. She started to cry when her flight was cancelled. She had to cancel patient appointments. She also had to pay her staff even though she wouldn’t make any money.

The airline heard her complaints and wrote her a check based on an algorithm for her troubles.

“This doesn’t cover the inconvenience to my patients.”

The gate agent didn’t seem to care. He told her, “There are fewer flights. And ironically, there are fewer seats due to airplane upgrades and more legroom.”

That’s not irony, buddy. Jesus.

This poor dentist was exhausted and defeated. We talked for a long time about how much she loves her job and her employees. We talked about how awesome it is to be a young woman and a business owner. She finally stopped crying and resigned herself to spending the night at the Four Points Sheraton in Charlotte.

She said, “You are relentlessly optimistic.”

I said, “You are mistaken.”

But I’m glad she felt better. The airline wrote me a check, too. I asked them how they arrived at the figure. The gate agent told me, “Obama.”

I said, “I like Obama, but it’s not enough.”

The morning after Obama gave me money, I was bumped from another flight where I had a confirmed seat assignment and was sitting on the plane. The new airline double-booked my seat. When a triple-double-diamond-platinum guy wanted to board the plane and take my seat, the new airline refused to honor my originating airline’s ticket.

I almost started to cry. I did raise my voice. The whole thing made no sense, but I was doomed. Even though I have status, my ticket was booked through another airline. They rolled out a manager who all but unbuckled my seatbelt. He removed me from the plane.

It was awful. I arrived at my destination 18 hours late and exhausted. Then two of my potential flights home were cancelled due to weather and Jesus.

Travel nightmare stories are boring, but I came back from this most recent trip feeling frazzled. I’ve flown millions of miles around the world. People greet me by name and bring me sparkling wine, dammit. If the system wears me down, what does it do to someone who rarely travels but goes home for a funeral? What does it do to someone who is on her first business trip? What does it do to your kids who are flying cross-country to see their asshole father who is remarried to that younger woman?

I can’t take Xanax and drink margaritas every time I travel. I am going to die of liver failure.

So this whole post is simply meant to clarify my position on therapy dogs. If having an adorable therapy dog on a plane is a scam, count me in!

I want one in a cute vest.


  1. I was wondering when you would turn the comments back on. It is better to have a conversation, even if in the comments of a blog.

    I started flying for business back in the days when the last three rows of the aircraft were the smoking seats. So I have had my share of missed connections, overnights in uncomfortable seats, lost bags, and getting bumped off a confirmed rebook.

    My answer was to develop Schneider’s rules for air travel.
    1. Check the suitcase, but keep a pair of underwear and a tooth brush in the carry on.
    2. Never connect through Atlanta, DFW or Charlotte between May and September. Avoid Detroit and Chicago connections from December to February.
    3. If canceled, stand in line but at the same time call the airline 800 number and work out the details – pick up the paper when you get to the counter.
    4. Smile. Don’t yell, threaten, or disparage the gate / ticket agents. They did not cancel your flight. Tell them a joke and make them smile,
    5. If someone is freaking out, decide if you can say something that will turn their thought in the right direction. If you can’t do that in 5 seconds of thought, don’t do anything. However, the standby is to tell them to call the 800 number.
    6. If you are going to spend the night – ask for a voucher for the hotel and a meal. Don’t spend the night in the airport if you can afford not to.
    7. Call home and let them know that you are OK.

    Those seven rules have proved their truth many times in the past 15 years of air travel. Some go back almost 30 years, (#1, 4 & 7).

    Always a pleasure to read your material.

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