OK, this is about to be a bitching session about the nightmare that flying the fiendish skies has become in recent years. I am qualified to make sour comments since since I have flown often over many years on a multiplicty of carriers and have observed how the process has deteriorated.
Oh, and I might observe that I am not actually flying anywhere this summer and as much as I love to travel there is some relief in that fact.
What I offer here is some observations about a transportation mode in which the customer is never right and those offering the service most obviously don’t care so very much about your or my woes and irritations.
Part of my problem stems from the fact that economics demand that I fly ‘scum’ class. That is a class that once was simply general boarding, but it has become reminiscent of a World War Two troop ship in its lack of charm, consideration and respect for personal space.
My main problem is that I’m old enough and experienced enough to remember what it was once like. It was like – this is for the benefit of you youngster – dress nicely and climb aboard nice and fresh since you didn’t need to go through any ‘security’ bullshit in which children and old folks are patted down but people who look sketchy are ignored for fear of a racial profiling allegation. It’s take off your belt and sandals – yes, sandals, you can hide a lot of high explosives in sandals, no?
Anyway, once upon a time you went to the terminal and climbed aboard a spacious jumbo jet at the designated time. Within there was room galore. The seats were relatively commodious and the toilets were in abundance. You were served a good meal, got free movie, and sometimes even free booze, especially on charter flights. And you arrived at your destination relatively refreshed since your wants, needs, and even sexual fantasies (if you were male) had been catered to by comely stewardi in their crisp uniforms.
No longer. Sigh. I did think though, since I have something of a perverse bent, that those who miss the loveliness of those aforentioned stewardi (now flight attendants and not quite as gracious and who can blame them? What a shitty job in modern context and conditions) and their fantasies. So, here’s a thing. The aisleway on our last flight was so narrow that almost constantly as I tried to relax, I was bumped by a passer-by. That was hellishly irksome in itself.
Even worse was if I had to make a trip back to the loo I had to squeeze by other passengers. But, I thought, here was a good way to have a slightly adulterous thrill and that came when squeezing by an endowed woman. You couldn’t help but have very up-close contact with her, and it was all perfectly innocent. You cannot tell a stranger to keep her boobs to herself, now can you?
But, speaking of bathrooms, it was the case that airplanes, even back in steerage, had two loos at the front and two in the rear. Now we are down to just three in the aft section load (po-folk being those who cannot afford 1st class, which is most) had to come by my seat and jostle me, or stand there in desperation right at my elbow.
Now, bad segue, I want to talk about luggage and its mysteries in terms of how it’s dealt with. We pack carry-ons with us and for the bigger bags we pay the rip-off tabs for what used to be free. So then we board and see others with ‘carry-ons’ which are bigger than the bags we checked (and paid for) and these morons then try to stow items the size of kayaks in the overhead while people are waiting to get by on the (seemingly) 10-inch-wide walkway. And then at the end of the trip, when folks are tired and cranky and longing to get off, those same morons then extricate their fucking junk that they got a free pass on.
Finally, a point about security. I already mentioned the sandals thing. Now, belts must be removed and they still take away your water. I want to offer special thanks for the consideration of the moron at Vancouver’s South terminal who decided that a guy my age must be a terrorist and subsequently subjected me to a privacy-invading ‘pat down’. It was the closest I have ever come to losing it with one of these minimum-wage buffoons. But, if I had I wouldn’t have been able to board, so I had to accept the situation and swallow my fury. I mean, WTF? Thanks for your charming finale to my vacation.