In recent weeks I’ve been traveling again. Northern Michigan with friends and family, Seattle for work, and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to tour the Assembly building before they stop the tours, build new rockets, and set course for Mars.
Even a well-traveled person like myself can’t always pick the best seat. Maps on websites can be deceptive, Seat Guru http://www.seatguru.com/ , a site I’ve gone to for years, is not 100% accurate as planes on different carriers have made special modifications for a bathroom or galley on one aircraft.
I found myself in the perfect storm of bad seats going south. I was trapped before any ability to switch or change. Trapped on the window side, in front of me were two seats instead of three off centered, leaving me with no foot room, no tray table, no pocket for stuff. Behind me was the 5 year old kick monster, old enough to know better, physically developed enough to have legs like a mule, he decided at one point to stand backwards and repeated crash his body into the back of my chair for fun. Finally, to my right, was a cushy baby boomer codling her purse sized prize of a dog in his pink bedazzled pet carrier. Once in flight the situation seemed nearly orchestrated as one annoyance stopped, the other would begin. Pounding, bumping rhythms from behind were sometimes stopped by a “Nathan, stop it” from a fatherly voice. Yips and whines from an attention-starved pup started a phase of cooing and snacks from “mommy” filled with baby talk.
There was no escape. I couldn’t squeeze out and bother the hipster couple who had gotten the two seats in front of me. Mommy had a bladder like an empty septic tank and wasn’t going to leave her little man alone. While I would have fought Nathan to flee, his father was too athletic to allow me to get away with injuring him.
Air travel is no longer sexy or romantic. Those who believe that to be true have not flown for a while or previously, like the woman waiting to board at the gate with me at SeaTac who could not comprehend why the airlines don’t let the people at the back of the plane board first, “it’s just logical” she told her companion. “Otherwise I have to climb over all these other people to get to my seat.”
Logic has nothing to do with it my dear traveler. It is a Caste System built on frequency and profits. If you travel often, you are a revenue stream the airline needs to target. If you travel with the welcome of each new decade you should learn to enjoy the bumps on the tarmac, catapulting drops in altitude during turbulence, and being served the last crumbs of single serving peanut dust with drops of watered down soda from the bottom of the plastic gutter bag ice conveniently broken on the floor in front of the lavatory. But as you’ve never been at the front of the plane to see how the food cart is prepared, you’ll never know why you get so sick after the flight.
Be good to each other my fellow travelers, you are each other’s only hope for a good experience in transit.