Flying Fools

There is something about airplane travel that brings out the worst in some people. The worst seats in many airliners have to be in the last row, next to the lavatories. These seats do not recline, and are scooted back against the lavatory wall as far as they will go. Unfortunately, the seats ahead of these fixed streets DO recline, effectively forcing occupants to put up with having the back of the forward seat in their laps.

If alone, once I am settled in my seat I fall asleep almost instantly and remain asleep until the plaae has landed and is taxi-ing toward the terminal.  (I can sleep anywhere.)   I am content to remain in my seat until everyone has left the plane.

The last time my son was with me on the flight, and I was sandwiched between him and a mild-mannered sixty-something man who had the aisle seat.  The man and I had exchanged the polite airplane seat-mate smile-and-nod, and we were all minding our own business.  I was almost asleep, son content to look out the window, and the pleasant man next to me had opened his lap-top.

Everything was fine until the seat-belt sign went dark.

Then the back of the seat, in front of my neighbor, crashed backward, forcing the computer screen almost-closed and pushed  against its owner. He asked the man in the seat ahead to move the seat forward part-way. He was ignored. The flight attendant, by request, also asked that the seat be put into upright,but she also was ignored.

Undaunted, the man with the computer kept turning in the seat, trying to hold the laptop in a comfortable position.  To his credit, he did manage to poke the seat-back a few times.

The guy in front never did adjust the seat, except when the inevitable drinks and peanuts arrived, and once when the guy got up to push his way to the lavatory.

I have thought about that incident now and then, especially when the news outlets run their periodic horror stories about air travel.

What is proper protocol in a situation like this?  Does one push  and bump the seat-back until the offender gets the message?   Try making loud and rude comments?   Fake a coughing fit?   Gag?

None of the above would have been likely to move the flying fool ahead of us.  A good smack upside the head would be effective, but then either a brawl would ensue–and delay the flight, or someone would sue.  Chances are the wrong passenger would have been kicked off the plane.

Far be it from me to advocate common sense on the part of the airline management–but wouldn’t it make sense to fix the seats that encroach upon the passengers seated in the seats that do not recline?   And is it really going to keep the airlines from bankruptcy if they remove that extra row of seats that they crammed in there?

If this has offended any of these Flying Fools–good!

Flying the friendly skies, back in the day

I LOVED flying. I even liked airports, whether the reason was actually going somewhere myself, a trip with a husband, or even just providing transportation for someone else. The atmosphere of the terminal was always exciting, with people walking fast or almost running down the concourse to make a flight. Dragging or pushing carry-on bags and packages, some carrying sleeping children.
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My very first flight was when I was 19 or 20, destination Valdosta, Georgia, to visit a boyfriend stationed there with his Air Force squadron, on active reserve manuevers. The flight only took a couple of hours. I forget what kind of aircraft it was, but my seat mate was a Catholic priest, a fact from which I took great comfort. I was scared silly by the time the plane landed, and very happy to find my fighter-pilot friend waiting at the edge of the tarmac.

Having survived my maiden flight, so to speak, it would be a few years before my next flight…back to the states via a Military Air Transportation Service (MATS) plane. My trip over to Germany two years earlier was SO much fun that I was looking forward to the return voyage across the Atlantic Ocean by ship. It was a converted troop ship, partially transformed into a military version of a luxury liner.

On the nine-day cruise bound for German port of Bremerhaven, from New York, I shared a small cabin with two other army wives and their two-year-olds. The babies were in little steel cribs, and I had one of the top bunks. I spent every possible minute on deck, watching the ocean…except when it was my meal setting. I sat at a big round table with seven other passengers, mostly army officers and wives traveling alone, as I was.

I was keenly disappointed when we flew back to New York on the MATS flight…on the plane, which did not have windows at each row of seats, so my only glimpse of the ocean was through a small window I passed on the way to the lavatory. It was a very uncomfortable flight for me, as I was seven months pregnant.

[Next post will discuss some of the people encountered on airplanes…entitled “Fools in Flight.” The featured characters include ME in the title role once or twice.]