Wednesday, September 27, 2006

International Travel Tip

Just because you can fully recline your seatback? Doesn't mean you should.

I do believe this is the last great taboo of air travel. You have your little seat and you have your little tray; that is your space. Once you ratchet your seatback into my face, however, you are in my space. I shouldn't have to move my seat in order to uncompress my ribcage enough to draw breath, ramming the knees of the miserable peon behind me into his chin in the process.

When I sleep on a plane, I lean forward and rest my head on the tray, because bending my body at a 45 degree angle is more comfortable than any position in the actual seat. And on the flight to France the person in front of me had shoved the seat back so far that I couldn't even get my head to the tray.

I had nine hours to work the problem, and what I hit upon was advance passive-aggressivity. During the return flight I slammed the tray down as soon as I possibly could, and when the person in front of me decided “Well! Time to brutally contort the sad, sad person behind me so I can have two additional micrometers of space to myself!” I put my forehead in the dead center of the seatback, a pissy blonde snot-filled ram, and shoved back.

There was a pause, then the seat swung forward. I raised my head. Lots of hairs out of place and a total loss of dignity, but by God I had defended my tiny piece of the sky.

emerging from the lag of jet at: mb@blondechampagne.com

14 comments:

Monica said...

My philosophy is, if you insist on reclining back so that you are basically laying in my lap, then you should not complain when I use your forehead as a bookrest. Some people actually have the nerve to complain about that. Go figure.

On a recent flight, one woman had the nerve to suggest to me that if I needed more space I could recline my seat. So I should perpetuate her rude behavior? Since she was sitting in the first row of coach, perhaps the entire plane should be reclining for her comfort? Well, the whole plane except for that last row. Too bad, so sad for them. That last row is basically left supporting the weight of the entire left side of the plane. I can't seem to recall which circle of hell that was...

Where was I? Oh, yes. My philosophy. So, if the seat rows are not far enough apart to allow the seat in front of me to recline without invading my personal space, then they should not recline at all. Or, if they must recline, then the person laying in your lap should be required to wear FAA approved cup-holder/bookrest headgear.

In the interest of safer travel, of course.

lina the reader said...

Yeah for sleeping on the tray! Although, some airlines give you a tray that sits very low, almost on your lap, so your body puts itself in like a 35 degree angle. Never thought I could sleep and almost touch my toes at the same time...

I highly recommend neck pillows. But not the inflatable ones.

Jill said...

The worst experience I had was not from someone in front of me reclining their seat, but the scary, terrorist-looking man next to me who thought that my tray was not only his trashcan but also his armrest! I was completely terrified of him (not necessarily because of what he looked like) because he was talking on his cell phone when we weren't supposed to, getting up and walking around when we weren't supposed to, etc. As I was sitting next to him, I figured that I was our first line of defense and came up with many different ideas on how to take out a hijacker with the tiny, plastic spoons they gave us with our meal!

Josh The Pilot said...

Monica,
As a now-official FAA employee, I will get right to work on finding out how to get your idea implemented. I'm not sure if anybody will listen to an air traffic controller trainee like myself, but we'll see what happens.

Anonymous said...

I typically don't recline my seat. Usually because I find it easier to read with the seat upright. Mostly, though, I don't want to be awakened for something so trivial as returning the seat to its upright position.

Since I'm not nearly as flexible as you ladies, I've never even tried to sleep on the table. I just shove my towel under my neck and sleep upright.

Unrelenting recliners should be seated with armrest hogs who refuse to shut their mouths.

I think it's time to segregate the cabins! Frequent travellers sit over here... Morons who want to shove a steamer trunk in the overhead sit ON A BUS!

/rant

mand_a_lion said...

I learn so much from this blog! I never thought about using the tray as a headrest. I'm going to use that tip next time I fly.

Julie said...

Flying to Rome, I sat next to a Polish girl (about 16, average height, slim build) who literally curled up like a cat and slept the whole flight. The flight attendants were so impressed they didn't even wake her up for seatbelt check.

Anonymous said...

The travelers who bother me are the ones who don't put their seat backs & tray tables up when it's announced and have to be tapped several times by the flight attendant to do so.
I was on a flight in January and my sister and I were in the bulk overhead seats. A couple came on with their 2 rather young children. They took their kids to their seats farther back in the plane (free babysitters) while the husband and wife sat in their front row seats. After the captain shut off the seatbelt light, the guy got up, opened up the bulk overhead to take out his laptop and proceeded to sit down without closing the cabinet! My sister wouldn't let me punch him. Such is life.

red pill junkie said...

I'm 6'4", so I know I'll never go to Europe unless I win the lottery and fly 1st class... or join the merchant navy :-(

red pill junkie said...

I'm 6'4", so I know I'll never go to Europe unless I win the lottery and fly 1st class... or join the merchant navy :-(

Chelsea said...

We all really needed this laugh today. Thanks for the comments all. You made work worth while. And why is it that my seat only reclines 2 inches, while the guy in front of me can recline 2 feet? I wasn't planning on being a dentist, but it sure makes for good practice.

Anonymous said...

When my son was 8 mos. old, we took his first flight. He sat on my lap, and on the 35 (!) minute flight, the jerk in front of us thought he needed to recline all the way. Needless to say, I did not in any way prevent my baby from playing with or puking on the man's hair. I was just disappointed that my guy was so happy (jk) so he didn't scream in the crapbag's ear.

Glad you're recovering, MB.

Doddy said...

I spent 4 hours yesterday (after a major delay in the airport too) on the tarmac in a little regional jet waiting to take off in Philly - but a least the person in front had the decency to never recline. Things could have gotten really ugly if anybody had.

I hold the air traffic controllers personally responsible for the hold up and think they should all be confined to solitary for a period no less than double the longest wait time on any given day. We could gather around and feed them pretzels (7 bags for me and the guy across the aisle).

Josh The Pilot said...

Doddy, you ARE aware that I'm a controller, right?!
Travel delays are caused by two things: weather and poor airline scheduling. Air traffic controllers DO NOT cause delays. It is our job to move airplanes as efficiently and quickly as possible. Other than weather, delays are caused by the airlines cramming all their arrivals and departures together which clogs the system. If they would spread out their arrivals and departures a little, things would run much smoother. Again, controllers do not cause delays, the airlines do, so hold them personlly responsible, not my co-workers and I!!

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