Discover more from Just Enough to Get Me in Trouble
Observations at 30,000 feet
I went on a trip and noticed some things
The last time I flew, I took a bunch of notes on my phone as I was traveling and turned them into this post. I attempted to do something similar during my recent trip to upstate New York. The problem is that I spent most of my time sleeping since I took a red-eye flight to get there and had terrible sleep the night before my return flight—probably because, unbeknownst to me, I was getting a cold, which I still have right now. But the show must go on, so I hopped into a Foster co-writing session yesterday and came up with the post below.
I hope you enjoy it.
I’ve never been intimidated by red-eye flights. “I can sleep anywhere,” I’d say if the topic ever arose. And, for the most part, it’s the truth. And yet, I’m struggling on this flight.
It doesn’t help that I forgot my neck pillow thingy. It doesn’t help that the panel next to my head is incessantly rattling—even turning on noise canceling on my AirPod Pros isn’t helping. It doesn’t help that the guy in the middle seat next to me keeps falling asleep and slumping forward, then slowly inching his way to his right toward my window seat until he inevitably hits me.
Awake, I grab my phone and start jotting down observations about the trip thus far.
My flight was delayed from the get-go, but not too badly. We boarded and were minutes away from pulling away from the gate when the lights went out in the cabin. Never a good sign. Some emergency reserve power kicked in and safety lights turned on. But it almost immediately became as balmy as a Florida afternoon, despite the brisk mid-50º weather outside. It turns out that nearly 200 humans can heat up a giant metal tube fast. That carried on for roughly 30 minutes, which meant our flight left well over an hour late. Yet the pilot assured us we could “make up the time in the air”, leaving me to wonder how air travel, time, and money work. Like, why can’t we always go that fast? Wouldn’t that allow them to do more flights and make more money? Maybe fuel costs are the reason? Who’s to say? Certainly not the guy who’s sitting in seat 21F (a.k.a. me).
Now that I’m in a pondering mood, I keep pondering other things.
After however many flights I’ve taken in my life, maybe hundreds, just tonight I realized that keeping your chair upright during takeoff and landing is more about the person behind you rather than you. I figured this out because the guy in front of me reclined his chair just before takeoff. If we slammed on the brakes or crash-landed somewhere, I’d have a slightly higher likelihood of banging my head against the seat in front of me than if he followed the rules. Side note: this is also why you need to put your tray tables up, but I figure that one is more obvious.
Here are some more observations.
People don’t really wait in lines at the airport. They’re usually more like blobs. Or like the spray from a hose when you plug it with your thumb. Basically, messy assortments of humans standing in every which direction, at least half of them staring into their phones, trying to squeeze into a small opening so they can go sit somewhere else, and stare into their phones there instead. In these chaotic environments, we thrive on structure. Literal structure, like those annoying retractable line divider things that create makeshift mazes. We say we hate them because we feel like cattle with no agency, but our brains secretly love them.
We refer to getting onto the plane as “boarding” and getting off the plane as “deplaning” when they really should be consistent. Can we choose between either “boarding” and “off-boarding” or “planing” and “deplaning”, please? My vote is for the latter simply because it gives me the option to make a dad-joke reference to the Tattoo character from Fantasy Island who famously said, "De Plane! De Plane!”
On a roll now.
There’s really no need for phones to be in airplane mode as far as plane communications go. They make you do it so you’re more likely to pay attention to the preflight stuff and so you’re alert in case shit (i.e. the plane) goes down. But people usually play some game on their phone, fall asleep, or read a book instead (sometimes even reading it on their phone).
Coughs are always twice as loud in the airport and on a plane. It’s just a fact.
Losing steam. Feeling sleepy.
It’s great that airlines are more sensitive to people with nut allergies, but they really need to figure out something better than pretzels or cookies. Passengers need protein so we stay satiated longer, which reduces the propensity of crankiness. In other words, more protein equals less crankiness, and vice versa. Similarly, making me spend extra money on top of my already expensive flight in order to acquire protein makes me even more cranky.
You’d think with so many people in close proximity that your ability to slip out an undetected fart would increase, but everyone knows you dealt it.
Okay, that was dumb. But also a fact. One more.
Telling someone who works at the airport or on the plane that they’re doing a great job and that you appreciate what they do will make their day. And they sorely need it because they often deal with people who look at them as obstacles blocking them from getting to their destination. Try it sometime. It’ll make you feel good too.
What other airline travel observations have you made?
Have you ever dished out an undetected fart while flying? And if so, what’s your secret?
What’s your best airport or airplane story?
What should airlines serve instead of pretzels and cookies?
If you liked this post, could you please let me know by giving the heart button a tap?