(Another recycling effort from an earlier blog. I still like it and hope you do, too.)
I usually don’t travel that much on business any more, but today I find myself sitting in an airplane in Economy Class and on my way to a conference.
I booked my “Economy” ticket two months ago at what passes for an inexpensive fare in this era of exorbitant fares and no perks. Because I booked early, I got to select my seat and be assigned to “Boarding Group I” status. I’m optimistic.
Although I suffer from just enough claustrophobia that I need to sit on the aisle, I selected seats on where I could sit by the window. I do this to keep from being constantly bumped with the food and beverage cart or by all my fellow passengers heading for the restroom the second that the Captain turns off the Seat Belt sign.
I arrived at the airport two hours early and went through the humiliating security check. “Prove to me that you’re not a terrorist,” the security officers seem to taunt. Shoeless, sweater off, I stood in the tube that is the full body scanner with my arms over my head and wondered why they just don’t throw in a mammogram while I’m there since I’m already half undressed and totally uncomfortable.
There is barely a vacant seat in the waiting area. There are fussy babies being given sugary drinks by their parents. There are too many vacationers, a troubling sign, since they do not know how to travel efficiently and (most importantly) quietly. I spot two couples traveling together: Brenda and Fritz, and Bethany and Todd. They are filled with new-traveler giddiness. Everything is funny. They are especially witty, they think. This will be their Best Vacation Ever. I fear that we will be sharing a row of seats or that one of the women will spend the flight facing backwards and kneeling in her seat so that she can carry on the conversation with her friends seated behind her.
They announce that we are about to board the plane. Being in Boarding Group 1, I gather my things, double-check that I have my boarding pass, and stand near the podium.
First they call for people traveling with disabilities to go first. I can understand that.
Next to board are members of the military traveling in uniform. Who can argue with that?
Then they call for persons traveling with small children. I know how long it can take to get a young child to move briskly in a straight line, so I’m all for them going ahead of me.
Next up is the First Class, Business Class, the Platinum Class of frequent fliers, followed by the Gold Class, and finally the Bronze Class. By my count, Boarding Group One is actually the ninth in line to board the plane.
By the time I step inside, there is no storage left in the overhead bins, and those poor losers in Boarding Group Two haven’t lumbered down the Jetway yet.
I find my way to seat 25A and, sure enough, Brenda and her husband Fritz soon arrive to occupy seats 25B and C. Bethany and her husband Todd are directly across the aisle, so they can chat. Oh, swell.
As soon as we’re in the air, they set out a picnic lunch: sandwiches, pretzels and potato chips, cups of pineapple chunks, bottles of water and iced tea. I check my ticket and discover that there are no meals or snacks on this flight. I assume that I can go 2 1/2 hours without food or drink. I do it every day.
My knees are already up against the seat in front of me when the seat’s occupant reclines his seat as far as it will go. I return the favor by pressing my knees into the back of his seat at where I estimate his kidneys should be. It’s childish of me, but it distracts me from Brenda and Fritz and Bethany and Todd, who are now trying to play gin rummy.
I check my watch. Only two hours and fifteen minutes to go. All this luxury for only $500.00.