It seems that few things in life get people quite so rattled as air travel. And why not? I mean you rush to the airport to find parking or drop off the rental car, lug your bags around for what can seem like miles, only to stand in line to drop off bags, dash over to security to again stand in line, and then wait until it’s time board the plane while you enjoy a $17 sandwich and the crush of humanity. And the fun doesn’t end there, especially if you find yourself the lucky owner of a cramped middle seat for the next several hours!
Luckily, I travel frequently for business, which through the airline’s loyalty program, has earned me a few perks such as priority boarding, preferred seating, and the occasional upgrade to first class. However, while recently traveling on a popular “no-frills” airline, I realized just how much I’ve taken these perks for granted, and thankfully I’ve managed to find some humor in it all!
Priority boarding was being lucky enough to earn a good boarding position at check-in to have a better chance of grabbing a window or aisle seat. Since this particular airline doesn’t offer upgraded seating options, the choices are all pretty much the same as far as comfort and leg room. My husband boarded ahead of me, and since he’s fairly tall, chose the front-row aisle seat to take advantage of additional leg room. As my eyes are glancing several rows back looking for the best window seat, he says “why don’t you sit here?” as he points to the open middle seat beside him. Not having the heart to disappoint him, I reluctantly plopped down in the middle seat. And that’s when the fun started.
The woman sitting near the window was quite pleasant and quickly removed her belongings from the center seat, but was however, wearing one of THE puffiest winter jackets I think I’ve ever seen, extending a good couple of inches into my “space.” I adjusted by moving a little closer to my husband, who is now leaning several inches in from the other side to avoid being assaulted by bulky carry-on bags as the other passengers make their way down the aisle. My already tight 17.8 inch seat space has shrunk by almost six inches!
Finally, the plane’s fully boarded and I regain my portion of the shared space from my husband, however the Puffy Jacket and the elbow that went along with it, remained firmly leaning over the armrest into my space. “I can do this,” I tell myself as I settled into a cramped and uncomfortable position for the three-hour flight. Then the magazine reading started.
The Puffy Jacket firmly planted its elbows on the armrest, now gouging me in the ribs with every turn of the page of the several magazines in her lap, each page turned deliberately and with purpose. Eventually, some relief was found, even if only momentarily, as the Puffy Jacket left to use the lavatory. “AHHHHHHH…,” I said to myself as I stretched my aching back and reclaimed the armrest. The Puffy Jacket returned much too quickly, settled back in, and somehow managed to take possession of the disputed armrest once again.
I found my way back to the contorted position I had somehow managed to deal with previously, did a mental countdown of just how much time was left before we landed, and convinced myself that I needed to keep my cool to avoid an “incident” that could put me on a “list.” It seemed like an eternity, and somewhere around 400 elbow jabs by the Puffy Jacket, but I lost count after the first 50 or so.
Aside from the obvious, there was a lesson learned from this experience. If you think you know what that lesson (or lessons) was, I’d love if you’d share your comments!