Pensacon is my favorite convention. That won’t come as news to my bloggy readers. It’s an event that brings together fans and guests from virtually every pop culture medium you can name. It treats its fans and guests like honored friends. It’s a convention darn near the entire city supports in one way or another.
But getting from Cleveland, Ohio to Pensacola, Florida isn’t always as stress-free as it could be. There are no direct flights between the two cities. Your choices for flight times are pretty much “way too early” or “arriving late at night.” Flying back to Cleveland? That also falls into the “way too early” category. If you’ve read my convention reports, you know it sometimes takes a while for me to get around to the actual convention.
Thursday, February 23
Our American Airlines flight from Cleveland to Washington, D.C. was scheduled to leave at 9:58 am. The connecting flight from D.C. to Pensacola would leave at 11:24 am and (with a time difference) get us to the renamed-for-the-weekend Pensacola Intergalactic Airport at 2:32 pm.
I have nothing but good things to say about American Airlines. The crews were unfailingly friendly and helpful. The flights themselves were non-eventful and on time. Which is not to say there wasn’t a bit of drama before we left Cleveland.
We booked our own flights for this trip. In doing so, we neglected to put my TSA Known Traveler Number on the tickets when we bought them. Had I noticed this when we checked our luggage, it would’ve been a simple fix at the ticket gate. When I got to the Pre-Check entrance, I was denied entrance and pretty much made to feel like I was trying to scam the TSA check-in guard. I was told I had to go to the regular check-in station.
Had I not been so taken aback by the turn of events and not already tired from the early hour and getting about using a cane, I could have simply gone back to the ticket agent and gotten a new ticket with my Known Traveler Number and Pre-Check. But I didn’t think to do that. Instead, I lumbered to the regular check-in. With the rest of the peasants.
Peasants? Am I being harsh? Not really. Because that’s how the TSA agents at the regular check-in made me feel.
Those agents were rude. Despite my age and the obvious discomfort I was in, they made me remove my jacket, my shoes and my belt. They replaced my cane with a ratty old stick. I had to hold my pants up while balancing on the stick through the X-Ray machine. Asked if I had anything in my pockets, I said I’d put my ID and boarding pass there. Midway through the X-Ray machine, I had to pull them out to show them. Then they said to put them back in my pocket. Past the X-Ray machine, I had to juggle my belongings, including my belt, briefcase, cane, carry-on bag, jacket and shoes as the still-rude agents encouraged me to move faster.
We pause here for a mini-rant.
Two decades ago, because of a failed shoe-bomb attack, we have flat out disgraced ourselves by removing our shoes and belts and other things. We have allowed TSA agents to pat us down or remove us from the line for random closer inspections.
How random? On one flight a decade or two ago, I was waved through while they pulled a little old white-haired lady with a walker for a closer inspection. I ask you...who looked more like a terrorist? Mediterranean Tony Isabella or Mrs. Santa Claus?
I appreciate the important work of the TSA. But I don’t believe it is disrespectful to ask them to consider updating how they do what they do. And to get some fucking manners.
I have never been treated rudely in the Pre-Check line. Indeed, I have seldom been treated rudely even before I started getting Pre-Check on all of my flights. However, on that particular morning in that particular airport, the TSA agents were dicks to me.
End of mini-rant.
The rest of the trip went well. When I needed them, I got rides to the gates. The flights were on time with plenty of time to make out connecting flights. The American Airlines folks were aces. Since I have a credit card through the airline, one that bestows some nice perks, I plan on flying them whenever I can.
It’s always a thrill to land at the Pensacola Intergalactic Airport where the gates are renamed stargates and walls are covered with Pensacon-related posters. The convention volunteers are extremely efficient in helping guests with our luggage and transporting us to our hotels. Every year, coming to this convention is like coming to visit family. Our Pensacon family.
Since the wondrous Grand Hotel closed - it was directly across the street from the Pensacola Bay Center - Pensacon has been boarding its guests at several hotels, including some right on the beautiful Pensacola Beach. On our ride to the Hampton Inn, Eddie and I got to spend a bit of time with the delightful Danny Pintauro.
Pintauro is known for his acting on As the World Turns, Who’s the Boss...and for playing the son of Dee Wallace’s character in the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Cujo. He’s appeared in various stage productions before retiring from acting. Which is a shame on account of he’s young enough to play a variety of roles.
Danny and I talked about the screenplay he’s writing and writing in general. He’s a nice fellow and I very much regret not being able to get away from my table long enough to visit him at his table on the celebrity level. Which also meant I didn’t get a chance to meet Ms. Wallace. I really need to balance my convention table time with my personal enjoyment of these events.
The Hampton Inn is a cool place to stay. Eddie and I had a fourth floor room with a great view of the beach. It was foggy that first night, looking like something out of The Mist, another Stephen King movie adaptation.
For dinner, we walked over to Crabs, one of the many fine seafood restaurants within walking distance of our hotel. I didn’t want to eat a huge meal, so I ordered a chicken fingers basket. The chicken was good, but the real treats were the creamy pineapple cole slaw and the homemade honey buns.
Crab isn’t a favorite of mine - given my oft-grumpy nature, it’s be a little like cannibalism - but if you are a fan of the versatile food, you’ll find a huge menu to choose from.
Crabs on the Beach is a pleasant place to dine with a great staff. Also, for such an upscale restaurant on the beach, its prices were quite reasonable. I recommend it.
Having managed to write today’s bloggy thing without getting you to the convention, I want to let you know I’ll be covering the first day of Pensacon in my next bloggy thing. See you then.
© 2023 Tony Isabella
I've never been there, but so far it sounds like a great place to go to a convention. I look forward to part 2.ReplyDelete