AirTran helps this travel writer put the “fun” back in flying

Flying is not usually a fun experience, and, as a travel writer, I often dread the drudgery of airport security, limited fast food options and cramped middle seats. But sometimes, you’re surprised. After a marathon security line at Baltimore-Washington International airport and a trudge down to the end of Terminal D, I heard peppy music, which I thought was emanating from the rum bar a few gates down. I’d noticed the balloons at the check-in gate and spotted more ahead. As I rounded the corner, I spotted it. A full steel drum band, massive dance troupe, and cameras everywhere.

Had I accidentally wandered into a Make a Wish Foundation flight? (This had happened once before.) No – it was AirTran’s first flight to Bermuda, and I was apparently on it.

Passengers excitedly milled around the gate area and curious patrons strolled down from other flights to see what was going on. A large table was set up with complimentary bagged sandwiches, chips, soft drinks and cookies emblazoned with the AirTran logo. Employees in Bermuda shorts offered literature about the island, and the native Bermudian dance troupe, flown in for the occasion, performed a routine before boarding the plane in full regalia. Luckily the flight was only about half full and they were able to fit their four-foot tall hats in the overhead bins …

As we boarded the plane, each passenger was given a gift bag with a pink Bermuda tee shirt, literature about the island, and other AirTran swag. Passengers chatted excitedly, flight attendants were more friendly than usual, and behind me, a pilot told another passenger that he’d arranged to take this flight solely so he could say he was aboard the inaugural route. As we disembarked and headed towards customs, a group of flight attendants said the same thing.

When we landed, the city’s fire trucks greeted the plane with a “water gun salute,” essentially hosing us down from either side. The whole flight clapped.

And it reminded me as I typed this on the GoGo WiFi at 39,000 feet – this is why I’m a travel writer. Because sometimes, getting to the destination can be as fun as the destination itself.

The following nonstop flights between Baltimore/Washington and Bermuda will be available beginning April 7, 2011, through October 24, 2011:

Nonstop Service Between Baltimore/Washington and Bermuda

From To Flight Departs Arrives Frequency
Baltimore/Washington Bermuda 1811 12:55 p.m. 4:15 p.m. Daily
Bermuda Baltimore/Washington 1812 5:05 p.m. 6:40 p.m. Daily

The following nonstop flights between Atlanta and Bermuda will be available beginning May 26, 2011, through September 6, 2011:

Nonstop Service Between Atlanta and Bermuda

From To Flight Departs Arrives Frequency
Atlanta Bermuda 1815 10:20 a.m. 2:20 p.m. Daily
Bermuda Atlanta 1816 3:10 p.m. 5:20 p.m. Daily