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Air travel happenings

Back from a vacation in western Canada. State College to Calgary took six flights, and largely it was a good travel experience in the middle of summer.

It was my first summer vacation in a few years. It's great staying local all summer and flying in other seasons, but I wanted to visit the Calgary Stampede and this was the year.

A couple things I found out that I can share regarding air travel these days:

People are taking so much onto the planes that the overheads are filling up on big planes before all the passengers have a chance to board. Get ready, if you're in seating area 3 or 4 on United or in a later seating area with the other airlines -- chances are you'll have to check your roller bag at the last minute.

They don't charge at the gate for checking bags, but be sure to get your computer and valuables out of it.

This happened to me in Washington heading to Denver on the way to Calgary, and in San Francisco heading to Washington on the way back. Ended up checking my carry on. It arrived at the destination fine. Just a new way to do it.

Five of the flights were excellent and then there was Dulles on Sunday night. We boarded the plane to State College for an on time departure at 10:10. No problem, until the pilot announced there was lightning in the area and the ramps were closed.

A thunderstorm rolled in and stayed for over an hour. We were in the hot plane, others were in the airport. Nobody was moving.

Well after 11 the storm passed and the pilot said we were cleared to go. But first he read the passengers bill of rights, meaning anyone could get off and not make the trip after all.

Nobody did and we arrived quickly into State College. The only downside was a rude flight attendant who clearly needed some sleep.

Hope these two things don't happen to you on future trips, but be aware of them. They're happening these days.