I’ve never been a big fan of flying. I’m a textbook white-knuckler. No matter how many times it’s been explained to me, I just can’t quite grasp the whole concept of aerodynamics. How can 700,000 pounds of metal lift off the ground and up in the air merely because the design of the wings makes the air beneath the wings lighter than the air above the wings? I can totally understand how a paper airplane zooms through the air, but 350 tons of steel?
I’ve heard the worn-out cliché that percentage wise, it’s safer to fly than to drive an automobile. Well, for me, I’d rather take my chances with a car. Even if I hit a tree head on, there’s a chance I’ll live to see another day. When a plane takes a nosedive, it’s time to kiss your butt goodbye.
There was a time when the airline companies pampered their customers to death (excuse the ironic expression), which to me, helped ease the stress and made the whole fear-of-flying-thing almost bearable. I remember free meals, cheap alcoholic beverages, free movies, few, if any luggage restrictions, leg room, and service up the old wazoo. I also remember arriving at the airport 15 minutes before your flight was scheduled to take off and still having 10 minutes to spare.
However, if you haven’t flown recently, you’re in for a real treat. The typical airport is like a cattle call; hundreds of people converging on the check-in counters to check their baggage at 35 to 50 dollars a pop. And going through security has to be what it’s like to spend eternity in hell. I’ve arrived at the airport two hours before my domestic flight was scheduled to leave, and barely made it to the gate before they closed the door on the airplane.
There are some deals out there if you hawk the Internet wholesalers regularly. When I fly to NY to visit family, rarely do I pay more than $325. But of course, my knees are jammed up against the seat in front of me and the guy sitting next to me is fighting me for dominant position on the armrest. And for only fifty dollars more, I can move to a seat with a few inches more legroom. But even if I do cough up the additional money, it doesn’t stop the little monster behind me from kicking the back of my seat. I can also look at their “Food for Purchase” menu which offers a variety of overpriced foods that you wouldn’t find at the poorest soup kitchen in the country. However, if you’re patient, two hours into the flight the attendants will give you a free, ¼ ounce bag of delicious peanuts or pretzels.
And of course, it’s always a pleasure using the toilets, unless, of course, you weigh more than 95 pounds or you’re taller than five-feet-two. But what I think I love most is when the pilot refuses to turn-off the “fasten seatbelt” sign—even during periods of negligible turbulence—for the entire 5-hour flight, and asks you to remain seated with a full bladder and violent cramps in your lower abdomen. Can’t wait to visit my family in NY come September. If it wasn’t a 3,000 mile trip, I think I’d drive.