The Fun of Flight
“I’m never getting on a plane again,” I declare as I stumble over an open suitcase lying next to a pile of dirty clothing. It’s a lie, of course, I will be getting on a plane again soon and intend to get on more after that. To where? I have no idea, but I wish I could get there by some other means of transportation. What do I have against planes? Let me start at the airport.
Airports remind me of temporary prisons: You must follow procedures as dictated, your movement is restricted to certain areas and you are subject to random searches. Family may only visit you at designated locations and you must be signed out to leave if you travel to a different country. The similarities really are uncanny if you think about it.
But flying is a privilege you say. Yes, I am quite privileged to have a pressurized cabin induced headache, leg cramps, and a dry mouth. My armrest has been taken by my daughter on my left and I don’t like the idea of waking my daughter on my right when I need to use the bathroom, but all that water I drank to make my ears pop has caught up with me and I really can’t hold it for another ten hours so I go ahead and nudge her shoulder and endure the sleepy glare. Isn’t flying fun?
When we arrive in Amsterdam for a 14-hour layover after a 9-hour redeye flight, my daughter points out that the train is far more comfortable than the plane. The seats are wider, there is no cabin pressure and there’s plenty of space to climb over my seat partner to use the bathroom. I have to say, I think she is on to something…
Please don’t get me wrong, I am grateful air travel exists. I know that getting around by trains isn’t practical. I’m also aware that security is important, and I don’t begrudge the airport for taking precautions. I’m not sure how they could make it more pleasant unless they gave us more legroom, perhaps more water to drink and seats that lean all the way back. Wait, my husband tells me this already exists. It’s called first class. No wonder the people who walk out of first-class look so perky when they exit the plane.
So, I have a problem, on the one hand, I love seeing new places and meeting new people. I love going to visit family and friends. I’m excited to take dozens of pictures and buy souvenirs. I enjoy visiting museums and shops and local restaurants. But on the other hand, it’s all ruined when I enter the terminal and the time to get on a plane draws ever closer. As I’m being frisked by security and my bags are searched and swiped for bomb-making material, I almost begin to wonder if I should give sea travel a try.