I am facing a couple of plane flights – one shortish to Boston this month and one long to Ireland next month. I am not looking forward to either of them.
Why you might ask? First, I hate the anthills of airports, the endless walks between gates and to baggage claim (have you ever checked out the Amsterdam airport? I believe if you got lost there, you might never be found – either that or reappear as a well-toned marathoner).
Second, the airplane seats have gotten small and smaller. At first I just thought my derriere was getting bigger and bigger, and I figured the airlines should create a business, persuading people to diet to be more comfortable. And some new seats are made of hard plastic – just what my piles appreciate!
It also occurred to me that my legs must have grown longer, since I had so little room in which to squish them. Since I was born in the Dark Ages, I should be in a medical journal for leg growth after forty.
Third, when the person in front of you puts their seat back, voila! – you have the food on your tray table right under your chin, so you don’t need a napkin.
Forth, there are the bathrooms, or the ‘lavs’ in flight lingo. I already suffer from claustrophobia when I get into one and close the door, elbows hitting the walls. Now they are even smaller. You have to enter sideways and then attempt to turn around to close the door and lower yourself to the toilet seat. Lowering your pants is akin to playing Twister. Remember that game? And you can only wash one hand at a time. I recommend the airlines offer catheters to anyone with a wide-body or in a wheel chair.
I have heard of some interesting proposals for future air travel. The first is that passengers will travel standing up. Two visions come to mind – the packing of passengers like sardines (pass the oil, please, and we can slither in a few more) and the chaos that would ensue in turbulence if you are just tethered to the ceiling. Maybe they will have a steel rod to which you will be affixed to prevent you from moving around. And what happens when your flight is delayed by seven hours on the tarmack? Instant venous thrombosis!
Actually, this is not a fantasy, folks. At the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2018 in Hamburg, the SkyRider 2.0 design on display aimed to help airlines squeeze in more passengers by allowing an “ultra-high density” and reducing the space between rows. The seats have high backs and a seat shaped like a short saddle, akin to standing in the stirrups on a horse. Aviointeriors , the developer, actually compared the seating position to that of a horseback rider, pointing out that cowboys can sit on saddles for hours without feeling uncomfortable. Oh yeah? I’m no cowboy and just where did the term saddlesores come from? I guess we could call them giddy-up seats.
The other proposal is actually more benign: changes to middle seats – those torture boxes of confinement between two elbows and spreading fat rolls. To get more people to select them, a company plans on offering middle seats that are set back a little from the ones on either side, and are also a little lower to the ground, thus preventing the intrusion of elbows. Oh, and they would be a teensy bit wider, too.