We’re flying to Alta, in Utah, to ski the famous Utah champagne powder. Actually, we may be surfing, because the weather in Alta at the moment is sunny and 16oC (61oF), and the snow could well be liquid.
While waiting for our flight at the airport, it dawned on me that flying in America isn’t quite as glamorous as flying in Britain (not that it’s particularly glamorous in Britain). When you live on a relatively small island, hardly any flights are domestic. Even if you’re hopping from London to Paris, a mere 344 miles away, the flight is international. Whereas America is so huge that almost every flight is domestic: San Francisco and Los Angeles are 560 miles apart and they’re in the same state. San Francisco to Maine is nearly 3,000 miles (the same as London to Maine), but still a domestic flight.
There are no border controls at the domestic terminals, because no borders are being crossed; the result is that people wander hither and thither around the buildings. They wait at the gates for the arriving passengers to disembark, so that they can get on themselves. It makes the airport look like a bus terminal. It’s decidedly more chaotic than at Heathrow, where virtually every flight is international and therefore requires more order.
We’ve also noticed that domestic flights in America don’t just involve a trip to their destinations and back again, as they do in Europe. No, they don’t go from San Francisco to Las Vegas to San Francisco; here, domestic flights go from San Francisco to Las Vegas to Phoenix to Denver to Sacramento to San Francisco, picking up and dropping off passengers at each airport like a bus.
We’ve thought it before, but there’s no escaping the fact here that planes are really just flying buses.