Monday, October 15, 2007
Joys of modern air travel
A window seat? Yikes. Well, at least I'll have a great view of our fine country from above. Unless I'm in the row above the wing. But what are the odds of that? Pretty good.
I remember my college days, flying out to Columbia, Mo. on Ozark Airlines, with hot meals served with cloth napkins and metal silverware.
I thought of that Monday night on a flight from Atlanta to Detroit when the flight attendant offered me a granola bar – for $2.
Flying is not the same.
Now, I’m not complaining. Just observing. And the thought of any inconvenience evaporates the second I see my Dad waiting for me at the airport.
But after taking two three-leg flights in the last four days, there are a couple things to discuss.
I’m going to call them IBs from here on out to be polite.
OK, if the rows are going to get any closer together, they’re going to start spraying people with WD-40 as they enter the jetway so they can get into their seats.
Knowing this, there are still IBs who insist on reclining their seats, knowing full well what this does to the person sitting behind them.
On one leg of my trip, an old guy in the row ahead of us dropped back as soon as he could. The guy behind him couldn’t believe it.
“The last time I saw somebody laying back that far he was getting a root canal,” he said loudly, so the IB could hear him.
“Seriously, they’re going to need the Jaws of Life to get me out of here.”
Of course, the old guy didn’t budge.
There are three things you can do in such situations.
First, as you see the seat going back, jam your knees up against the magazine/barf bag holder. If the IB’s finger is still on the button, you can at best push it back up and at worst stop it from going back further. The downside is that the IB might wait until you are not suspecting it and drop back again.
Second, take the overhead air-blower, tilt it as far forward as you can and turn it on full blast. Unless the IB is completely oblivious, he’ll get annoyed and move forward.
And third, in drastic cases, sneeze. The IB is certain to freak out when he feels that fine mist landing on his comb-over.
If none of these work, you can always set your can of Diet Coke on the IB’s forehead and say, “Oh, you were so freaking far back that I thought your face was an ugly meal tray.”
The baggage guys were slamming luggage on the conveyor like they were playing Whack-a-Mole, in full view of everybody in the gate area. Now, which is worse, seeing them slam your bag around or not seeing your bag at all?
Overhead storage battles
I know checking bags is always a risk, and this seems to be prompting IBs to try to bring all of their luggage onboard no matter how big the bags are. But, of course, there is limited room.
On one of my legs, I got to my seat nice and early, took out my book and magazine – Newsweek with Rachael Ray on the cover, yes! – and carefully placed my laptop case in the bin above my seat.
Well, a late-arriving IB stumbled down the aisle with his way-too-big bag and proceeded to his seat in the row behind me. He opened the overhead compartment, took out my laptop case, put in his bag and tried to cram my laptop in the two inches above his stuff.
Naturally, it didn’t fit. So he started giving my case the two-handed shove to squeeze it in there like it was a pillow, then started slamming the compartment lid down. I was in stunned disbelief, and finally said “Hey!” with as much indignation as I could muster.
I then stood up and shot the guy the kind of look I reserve for serial killers and people who wear Jeter shirts at Mets games. Then I reopened the compartment, took out my case, unzipped it to see that the laptop was OK while shaking my head in disgust. Then, for good measure, I shot him “the stare,” hoping that my new edgy haircut would take the guy down a couple notches.
Alas, IBs don’t care about what other people think.
It used to be that occasionally you’d see people trying to bring their pets on flights, and they’d have these large and elaborate carriers that were stowed with the luggage.
But on this trip I saw at least four people with tiny dogs they were carrying around in their purses the same way my daughter carries her stuffed puppy in her tote bag.
What the heck? When did dogs become accessories?
And I’m violently allergic to these things. I have no idea what would have happened had one of these IBs with purse puppies sat next to me – other than that it would be a heck of a lot easier to start sneezing if the guy in front leaned the seat back.
Even stranger, I later saw a lady with a cat in a mesh backpack. I have no idea how she got it in there – and there was precious little room for the kitty – and how it was being so calm.
Edgy people would rather ride motorcycles than fly. Ignore the kickstand -- or the fact that the motorcycle isn't actually moving. OK, Dad let me pose on his birthday present.
But like I said, all these thoughts vanish in the arms of loved ones at the other end of the trip.
It’s a lot more fun gathering for a celebration than for a funeral, as was the case earlier this year. And we had much fun reconnecting and laughing, having deep discussions while lamenting that the Jets’ offense didn’t show up on Sunday, and that the Mets didn’t show up for the post-season.
And for the record, the family liked the new haircut – but said it is not even close to being edgy.