Come fly with me in the fiendish skies of today

flying machine

There’s not much to do on a long airplane flight, especially when you are traveling in steerage. You know full well that all the Don Drapers in business class are being propositioned by luscious flight attendants, whilst scarfing down lobster thermidor and chugging endless glasses of champagne, but we back in steerage are left to our own devices.

I mean, what can you do to make, say, five hours (or 10 if you’re off to Europe) pass and still have a semblance of sanity left that will keep a body from turning homicidal when the morons download their steamer trunks from the overhead racks and impede your desperate need to depart the much-too-small airborne tube at the end of the flight?

pan amThere was once a time when a fellow could ogle the stewardi and fantasize about a delicious liaison with the delectable creature who was there to tend to all your needs – and in that fantasy that meant ‘all’ your needs. That has changed as flying has deteriorated and the nowadays ‘flight attendants’ are worked off their pretty buns and aren’t, well, quite as charming (even flirtatious) as once they were. I don’t blame them. I think what was once a romantic dream job has to nowadays be a pretty shitty, sweaty gig in which they have to deal with probably more obnoxious and self-indulgent assholes in one long-haul flight than the rest of us have to in a year.

Anyway, you’re sat there in a seat that does not remotely resemble the contours of your bum and you have to fill in the time once airborne. You idly ponder how the gymnastic challenges of joining the ‘mile-high-club’ would be pretty much out of the question back there in econo class where you are position. You resent the fact that the toffs in business probably even have an option to trip the carnal fantastic that is denied to you. And then you look at the exhausted face of your opposite sex traveling companion who has just been through a body scan as part of the airport bullshit and know that even if you had a private bedroom it would be denied to you. Yet the creeps back at the airport got to see all her good bits.

You try to read to while away the time. You pick up your novel and just read your damn fool head off and go through page after page even though reading on a conveyance makes you feel a bit nauseated. Well now then, that must have knocked a bit of time off. You check your watch. It has. Maybe 10 minutes. Only four hours and fifty minutes to go. OK, rent one of those little TV devices and watch a couple of episodes of Big Bang that I haven’t seen more than 30 times at home, just to gaze on Penny with whom I’d like to be exquisitely intimate and have her bear my children. That’s gotta kill more time. Yep, about an hour and I get to use those excruciatingly uncomfortable little bits of earphone crap that never work in stereo.

Now the drinks trolley comes by. Considering the tedium of the flight I’d love to order a quintuple vodka on the rocks, but since I no longer imbibe I settle for something with a vague resemblance to coffee. Actually, on our trip back from Hawaii a couple of months ago I asked for a glass of milk. I was informed that on afternoon flights they don’t serve milk. Why ever not? I haven’t yet figured out that one. So, I settled for tomato juice and gave myself stabbing heartburn for the rest of the journey. Heartburn that was compounded by the appearance of:

Wait for it:

The meal service. Found out that virtually everything that might not have been profoundly vomit-inducing was unavailable. I settled for a crackers, cheese, grape and apple slice combo that vaguely resembled a very poor, indolent, hit-the-skids, alleyway wino junkie’s ploughman’s lunch.

My memory drifted back to the days of the exquisite stewardi and Hy’s Restaurant meals of the wonderful and agonizingly lamented Wardair service when they allowed even economy travelers to feel like they were a little bit special.

By that time my bladder had alerted me it was time to head back to the toilet. Time to head back where the aisleway (very narrow aisleway of a nature that nobody can pass by your seat if you are on the aisle without jostling you) is completely cluttered with (so-called) meal and drinks trolleys.

In my quest for relief I am joined by some others, in a few cases noticeably squirming in extremis. Is it a federal aviation violation to have a pee accident on the floor? Anyway, no such thing happened. I made it to the odd little loo, peed, headed back up the long aisle to my seat only to feel 15 minutes later like I had to pee again.

Fly the fiendish skies indeed.

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9 responses to “Come fly with me in the fiendish skies of today

  1. Having just returned from Europe you hit the right notes!

    What is all this nonsense about business and first cl;ass passengers making it possible fir the rest of us to fly at all? Rubbish. Do the maths.
    The business/first class propaganda is to boost the image of the airline, nothing more.

    I mourn the demise of Mexicana airlines…damn good food and an hour of the flight spent on a demonstration of how to make tequila cocktails followed by distribution of same and a good free bar in the galley. Great staff, nothing too much trouble…and that was economy!

    I will never fly via the U.S.A. again….from the attitude of the security staff they might as well be guiding you into the showers of a concentration camp…compare this with Barcelona where it all passes with good humour and assistance…even Paris Charles de Gaulle is better and that says a great deal.

    And what do I do to pass ten hours in a ‘plane with no tequila cocktails? Read..read …read…and defiantly put up my window blind when the flight attendant has put it down. I’m paying for this trip and if I want to see clouds I’ll see clouds.

    • Really interesting observations. Have never flown Mexicana so cannot contribute to the conversation. I loved Aloha Airlines out of Hawaii. Now gone, sadly. And the aforementioned Wardair. Air Canada is horrible and to be avoided like the plague. Re termini, despite the bad press it gets we found Heathrow back in 2006 to be remarkably efficient compared to ours. LAX has to be the worst.

  2. I am always nervous about flying. It seems that over the years the seats have shrunk and are not as padded as they used to be (I know, I know, my arse has not shrunk and it is padded a bit more) so they are uncomfortable. I noticed a lot less arm room and when I am stuck between 2 people who are 200+, I feel like I am packed in like a sardine, and neither wants to share the one armrest on each side (didn’t they used to be wider or there were 2?).
    I have never had the privileged of flying first class (or the funds) so do not know if it is better. I hear it is heaven at a price.

    • I gather 1st class can be pure heaven, but cannot afford it. I once once position next to a huge Hawaiian lady, probably 400 pounds. Now that was a major challenge. And the seats have shrunk, definitely, and so have the aisleways.

  3. Just got back from Europe less than a week ago. Standby (at least as airline, we don’t have to pay as much for the shitty “service”). The food was vile. The drinks practically non existent (one quick pass and they’re gone though lord knows one needs booze on a 6 hour flight). Thank god for my iPad and Kindle.

    Plus, put me in a moving vehicle and I fall asleep, that knocked off a couple of hours.

    On the plus side, we were in business class on the return flight. Twas lovely, but damn it just makes the thought of the next flight in December that much more depressing.

    Tip of the day: Bring your own earphones. Makes things marginally better.

    • So how did you get into biz class? I am green with envy. Bonus point, however, you’re back. Yay.

      • There are certain standby employee tickets where you get business automatically if there are seats available. More expensive though, of course. And you get lucky maybe once in every ten flights…

  4. PS: and why, when there is a door at the back of the plane, do they make the economy passengers walk through first class on their way back to the cattle car? That’s just evil.

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