10 hours in the air 0

Photo Credit: PicJumbo

IMG 9426

You folks all know I travel quite a bit. Planes, trains, and automobiles – though regretably without John Candy as a sidekick. Recently, I was trapped on a 10 hour flight overseas, and frankly I am not impressed.

Years ago, when I did such a trans-continental flight, the coach seats were slightly more roomy than coach on domestic flights, and the whole business of charging for “extra” legroom (a total joke) was not a consideration. Flying United to Tel Aviv has shown me just how far long-haul flight experience has tanked in the intervening years.

Let’s start with boarding the plane. If course the first class, disabled, uniformed, and other people get on first. That’s actually fair, and I have no objections.

Then it all goes to hell.

Between the priority boarding for credit card holders, frequent flyers, and pretty much anyone who has absolutely any claim at all to it; 3/4 of the plane boarded before us shlubs who had just normal tickets even had a chance to see the gangway. By the time I got on, 90% of the overhead bins were full, everyone was already seated around me, and it was pure hell. Now, I was in the middle of the plane, so theoretically first class, and everyone behind me should be on, but not everyone around me and in front of me too.

So, I get on the plane, sit down, and realize that the extra legroom seat I did shell out for (it being a really long flight) was pretty much the same as any other domestic plane pitch from as little as 3 years ago. God help everyone who didn’t get extra leg-room, I can only image the hell of 10 hours with their knees jammed up against their chests.

In flight service was actually pretty good. When cabin service happened, real meals were served, you could ask for a can of soda or bottle of water instead of a cup of the stuff that’s 90% ice, and the staff were pretty friendly. But the constant movement of beverage carts up and down aisles that were barely big enough to manage that made it impossible to get up and stretch your legs. This became even more critical considering the abysmal seat pitch we all had to put up with. Deep Vein Thrombosis is a very real and very deadly medical condition undeniably tied to being jammed in airline seats for hours on end. The inability to move – pretty much at all – is just the airlines begging for massive lawsuits.

Added to this, it was literally hours between visits by any cabin crew. Granted, I can’t expect them to be continually roaming the aisles; but seeing one of them check in on things every few hours might be nice.

Listen up, American air carriers, it’s time to get in-step with your overseas counterparts and stop treating your passengers like veal – penned in and miserable. Widen the isles, increase sit pitch so the guy in front of me doesn’t lean his seat back into my lap, and start understanding that we’re human beings who deserve at least the most basic levels of respect and dignity.