Tuesday, March 12, 2013

From a Distance



From a distance, we see things more clearly, don't we? Today I re-read these few lines from "Seating Arrangements" by Maggie Shipstead. One of the funniest books I've ever had the pleasure to read.

"An airplane crossed the sky and she imagined its interior - people packed in rows like eggs in a carton, the chemical smell of the toilets, pretzels in foil pouches, cans hiss-popping open, black ovals of night sky embedded in the rattling walls."

How a few short lines can encapsulate the current awfulness of air travel! But only from a distance. When we're on board other anxieties intrude - in my own case smoke from the dollhouse kitchen, non-stop crying babies - their wee ears affected by the air pressure, and those drunks, you know the kind, my tribe calls them "messers". Twice we overshot runways, another time the sudden turbulence was so violent our breakfasts hit the ceiling. Not to mention the odd nasty flight attendant who keeps one cowering, well-behaved, in one's seat, crunching one's legs together, not wishing to incur his/her wrath by going to the toilet.

This geezer remembers the times when air travel was a joy. Playpens for the children. Hammocks for babies and free assistance at plane changing airports. China! Real glasses and cutlery! Table linens! And oh yeah, smoking!

I'm sure you fliers out there have your own stories to share.

18 comments:

  1. I just experienced a to and fro flying experience which I would like to forget at the earliest.

    The flight itself, with one stop took four hours one way and the carrier is a no frills economy server with six seats abreast configuration.

    To start with, the seats were uncomfortable and the neighbours were determined to be nasty with their elbows!

    It was agony both ways and I have decided that I will not fly such long distance routes through economy carriers.

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  2. I've flown a number of times and do not like it. Only one hairy experience: our plane in its glide path to Bradenton Florida airport suddenly banked left and climbed rapidly .We found out when we landed that a plane from another airline had suddenly dove and crossed underneath us.
    Quick reflexes by our pilot prevented 400 souls on two planes from meeting their Maker.Anyway it was all hushed up.

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  3. It is appalling Ramana what we put up with on these scammers. The only one I enjoy is a fairly local airline. Porter. Which was recently voted the best airline in North America. You are treated like a customer and they offer bigger seats and take your coat and laptop if you want.
    I am hoping the idea of service will take off :)All the staff are shareholders.
    XO
    WWW

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  4. That happened in Gander a long time ago with us, GFB.

    A friend who was an air traffic controller told me the near misses are incredible. Every day. And highest intoxication among air controllers due to stress. They have ways of fooling the drug testing...

    He said if we knew all the facts we would never fly.

    XO
    WWW

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  5. I only started flying fairly late in life so I never knew what I was missing in terms of proper service. I just accept that airline travel these days is the air equivalent of being on a crowded bus or train. Pretty unpleasant but unless you have the vast sums necessary for business class, what can you do?

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  6. I used to fly a lot, intercontinental, and had grown very disillusioned with it. I vowed that I would not fly again, but finally did so anyway recently. Imagine my surprise when I found the whole thing to be a very pleasant experience and would go again tomorrow if given the opportunity. Maybe it was because of the airline I used, but I would definitely never use a cheap one.

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  7. Hi WWW

    I know there is something very wrong with me but I love flying - even when it's long and involves layovers and queues. From the moment I lock up the house and head for the airport, I'm in traveller mode - impervious to discomfort. I love all of it. I've been in Economy (mostly), Business (often in the 90s and early 2000s) and First a few times when I had friends with influence or was lucky enough to get bumped up. It's all much the same once you've had a few drinks and found some films to watch. For long-haul flights, I always go for the option with the most night-time flying. Between the UK and Australia, my most well-worn route, that's fairly easy. And I always get a window seat. Even when you're looking at nothing but the vast blackness of space, it's worth doing. I've trained myself to only get up once in a 13-hour night and then I do the full toilette. As I said, I love it all - but then I love cruise ships too.

    xxx

    Pants

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  8. I've flown thousands of miles from New Jersey to New Zealand, all aroumd Australuia, to Tahiti, to Fiji, to Paris, to Zurick, to Rome, to Athens, Istanbul, to Ankara, and all around the U.S. on both business and pleasure.
    II haven't flow in 10 years. If I have a choice, I'll not fly again. Give me a boat that will carry me o'er, or a train; I love both.Flying as it is now, sucks.

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  9. I used to really love to fly, but now it's so uncomfortable. The only positive change for me is banning smoking. If you aren't a smoker, there's no such thing as fresh air on an enclosed airplane. Given the cancer risks of second hand smoke, I'm grateful they've outlawed it. But the decline in legroom and the charges for every little thing and the lousy food and the lost luggage and the delays/cancellations. Ugh.

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  10. Nick:
    I totally agree. Trains are truly comfortable and Daughter finds that mega-bus travel really good (and cheap).
    But transatlantic travel is wretched unless one can afford the perks.
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Irene:
    Yes, I remember your trip and how delighted you were even though it was long and involved deplaning.
    I am so glad for you!
    XO
    WWW

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  12. Pants:
    A born traveller and long may it continue for you!
    XO
    WWW

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  13. Marc:

    My last experiences have been most unpleasant so that colours my view too. I am completely stressed by it.

    XO
    WWW

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  14. SAW:
    Yes the banning of smoking helped a lot as it managed to filter its way everywhere.
    The banning of extra luggage and free meals is nudder story!
    XO
    WWW

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  15. OWJ:

    Every time I fly I resolve never to fly again :)

    XO
    WWW

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  16. I loved flying in Cessna with my husband long ago, and a few commercial flights I had taken through the years. More recent years commercial flying has been so unpleasant I've not done as much as I might have otherwise. It's like being packed in a cattle car.

    I wish all passengers would go on strike, refuse to fly for a protest day, week, or whatever until the airlines, govt. requirements, or something would give us decent air transportation.

    I wish some of these smaller private jets with comfortable seating would come up with plans in which individuals could buy a time-share for so many flights a year to certain locations at a reasonable cost. If enough people bought in maybe it could be cost effective for such a venture as the jet made more frequent flights.

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  17. Not so very long ago I remember when flying Westjet was the funnest experience I ever had flying. the whole trip was just fun. The flight attendants told jokes, the pilot joined in over the speaker system, games were played (I remember one involving rolls of toilet paper thrown unrolling down the aisle, and passengers shared the food they brought along with them since Westjet did not provide meals. I remember one particular trip when the flight was several hours delayed and we were going to be arriving at our destination in the wee hours of the morning. The pilot came on the loudspeaker and sang, "Six days on the road and we're gonna get you home tonight!"

    Ah, the good old days...

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