The Unbearable Lightness of Being on an Airplane

We just returned from a wonderful, memorable vacation in Italy. We saw beautiful buildings, flowers, people, and landscapes. We visited ruins, beaches, museums, and gardens. We ate delicious food and discovered new wines. We had fascinating conversations with our friends and amusing interactions with strangers. The trip was really, really great, but every time I get on an airplane, I get off the plane swearing that I will never fly anywhere ever again.

Yes, I’m tall and I have long legs. However, I’m not too much taller than the average man, yet airplane seats are not even average. Airplane seats are now designed with just enough space for a ten year old—a skinny ten year old. My knees touch the back of the seat no matter how I sit. My husband sits with his knees apart to deal with the space issue, but I’m not comfortable in that position. Besides, my mother taught me not to sit like that! Then there’s the question of reclining. My husband sat in the aisle seat, and the young man in front of him reclined all the way. In order to get out of my seat for a bathroom break, Tom had to limbo out, then I had to wriggle up onto my seat and clamber over both seats into the aisle. Middle aged women should not have to attempt parcour moves in order to visit the toilet! And I’m not going to bother to discuss the shoulder issue.

After all the indignity that customers are exposed to at airports and on flights, airlines then taunt economy passengers with images of sleeper seats and first-class pods. It feels like an insinuation that we’re uncomfortable because we’re poor (or cheap). We did pay for “extra leg room” exit seats on the way over, but they were uncomfortable because they were right next to the galley with its constant stream of traffic, and they were slanted weirdly. I almost wanted something to brace my feet against to combat the sliding.

I’ll save my complaints about airline “partnerships” for another post. Thanks for reading. Have you had any tough flights? Any good ones?


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