For those of you who do a modest amount of flying, a new method of travel torture may soon be available to enhance your trip. After driving to the airport, waiting in line for a ticket, waiting in line to show your identification, waiting in line to go through security with your feet unshod, waiting for your plane to arrive late and its passengers to debark and then waiting for the cleanup crew to fluff up and remove the newspapers and candy wrappers, you finally go through the magic tunnel and board your flight A member of the crew might look at your ticket stub and point you in the only direction you can take - or not! You find the location of your seat and instead of the usual cramped, stuffed chairs, back compartments loaded with travel magazines enticing you to go to far away places; you see a rowing machine designed for a threesome. What the...
Airbus has applied for a patent that would entirely change the look and feel of passenger seating on “short flights.” Looking for new ways to save on space and since passengers are not getting any smaller at this time, a new “down and dirty” concept in seating has been envisioned. The seat has been replaced with a bicycle-style saddle that folds up when not in use like theater seats and, the fold down table is now nonexistent as well as a head rest..
At first blush, we might just think that this might be something to try. Assuming that reduced amenity seating translates into additional savings for the passenger on a short flight, it might be worth it. No longer would you have to bother your neighbor to return his table to the upright position when you need to get past and into the isle nor would you have to worry about losing coins and such from you pockets falling down into the creases of your seat. Silver linings can be found if one looks hard enough.
As I picture these new seats in use I do see a few drawbacks. What happens if the short trip lasts longer than anticipated a la GILLIGAN’S ISLAND? Imagine. The flight crew is left in the passenger compartment with hungry, thirsty passengers with back pain, a few hemorrhoid sufferers keep switching from one cheek to the other, causing the plane to rock back and forth mimicking their motions. Somehow I see the interior darken and bolts of lightning illuminated outside the windows and rain, always rain, falling from the clouds surrounding them. Passengers are out of their budget seats, shuffling up the isle toward the frightened stewardess, blank stares on their faces, moans coming from deep inside their tortured bodies. Or, was I thinking about an episode of TWILIGHT ZONE?
In the spring of 2011, Jerry and I were invited by the folks at Museum Replicas/Atlanta Cutlery to visit India and see first hand how their excellent swords and costumes and many other of their products were produced firsthand. All hyped up for our adventure, we took flight from Atlanta to Newark, New Jersey where sleet and snow greeted us. The plane was late getting in by a few hours and then we sat on the tarmac for several more waiting in line to get deiced before the 8000 mile trip. Once we finally got off the ground and settled in on our spacious half filled home away from home -- empty seats in our row made it possible for us to recline if we so wished -- we passed the time rather quickly reading and talking and trying to figure out my new camera that I hadn’t had a chance to take out of the container.
After 2 weeks of new and interesting experiences that I’ll never forget we returned to the airport in New Delhi and boarded the plane that would take us home. The bus was full, not an empty seat to be had. Jerry ended up near the back of the plane and I in a middle seat closer to the front. The air didn’t feel like it was circulating enough, children were crawling on the floor everywhere and I felt smothered by a rather large man sitting to my right who, by the way, kept the window shade down so I couldn’t see the outside. All I could see was the large screen on the wall up front that showed the little blip that represented us slowly making its way back towards North America. This was the first time I didn’t have my husband sitting next to me on the plane and it wasn’t fun. The lights were turned down low and the crew hid in the back just like parents waiting for their children to fall asleep.
I tried sitting in my seat, I really did, for at least an hour. Finally, my back killing me, I grabbed my purse, slid past the sleeping woman on my left and trekked towards the rear of the plane. As I made my way back I saw Jerry who looked as miserable as I felt and beckoned him to follow me. An island retreat awaited us in the form of a not fully occupied crew’s lounge of sorts right across from the bathrooms. There was enough wall space for us to stand and hold hands and talk. That became our spot for most of the 16 hour flight back home.
Other than the seasoned travelers who must have taken some really potent sedatives, I don’t think many of the proposed new seating arrangements would have stayed in place on that flight. I imagine passengers using whatever they could find, unscrewing or unbolting the seats and pushing them out of the way and just lying out on the empty floor, a drink beside them and a plate of food. Oh yes, a few rows of the seats would have been left in place for the flight crew to relax in and enjoy!