Aches on a Plane

6 years ago

I have just returned from a trip across country that involved air travel.  I’m exhausted, I’m dehydrated (do they purposely suck all the moisture out of the air on the plane?), and I’m cranky.  No doubt my rants here are related to my current physiological and psychological state but, actually, these thoughts are not new.  Every time I fly I think the same things and I need to vent so that I can get on with my life. 

You know, I’m OK with the security checks.  In fact, I was radiated yesterday in one of the full body scans.  Not something I would do for entertainment, but I’m willing to take one for the team.  Is the security check process awful? Yes.  Standing in line, trying not to look suspicious (does anybody else feel really self-conscious during this process, so afraid I’ll make an inadvertent gesture or say something that will be construed by security as threatening).   You’re in line, trying to juggle all your stuff, praying the entire contents of your purse does not cascade across the floor.  You take off the belt, the shoes, the jewelry.  Stripping off most of my clothes in public is not something I’m thrilled about (well, there was that one time in college….), but I do it.  Actually, the un-dress is pretty simple, the re-dress is when the technical difficulty increases (Carrie Ann would give it a 10). Because now you have to do all the same strip moves, but this time on one foot.  (Note to self: don’t wear the fashion rubber rain boots on a flight. The plastic melts to your feet and when you do finally manage to get the boots off, you smell like Sears).  But, all this contortion and aggravation aside, let’s direct our disdain at the right people --- the bad guys who make this dance even necessary.  It’s their fault we have to go through all this every time we get on a plane, not the airline, not the TSA.

All right, I’m past security and I’m boarding the plane.  Of course, all us econo-flyers have to wait to board until the uppity 1st class people have gotten seated on their throne in the front of the plane.  Now we get to enter and walk past them while they sit there smugly in their pleather seats, sipping their Inglenook, acting like we’re getting on their plane.  I swear that’s why they pay so much for those 1st class tickets, so they can sit there while we walk by.  Makes me want to slug them with my Old Navy bag.  News for you, 1st class people… it doesn’t matter where you sit, we all get there at the same time.  And, if this plane goes down, you’re gonna be just as dead as I am no matter how much you paid.  So, don’t even.

Now, what is up with the carry-ons?!  Come on, folks, we are adding at least 30 minutes to every flight because you can’t part with your personal effects for a couple-hour flight.   Really? The crap must not be that valuable to you because you’ve defiled, bludgeoned, and assaulted that bag to get it to fit into the overhead bin anyway.  You know you don’t need what’s in there right now.  I was on a three-hour flight yesterday and I only saw 2 people actually retrieve their carryon from overhead during the flight.  And both of those were moms with babies.  My solution to the carry-on madness: Have a bad-ass Mom stand at the door to the airplane as people board.  I’m thinking somebody like Niecy Nash, or one of those ladies that works in the school cafeteria.  Women that are not taking any crap off anybody.  This Mom will ask everyone approaching with a carryon whether they really need it or not.  If they cannot immediately offer a truly critical need for the contents of that bag, then Mom will tell them to “Turn around right now and take that bag back to the desk and check it, mister.  And we will leave without you, do not even try me”. 

So, I’m on my way to my seat, praying all the while that my seatmate (If I must have one) won’t be talkative, smell bad, and/or be under the age of 18.   Now, before I go any further with this, let me first say: I don’t hate children.  I’m a mom and a grandma – in fact, I was even once a child.  I don’t hate kids. But, I have to say that I would rather sit through my neighbor’s childbirth AND vacation videos – twice - than sit next to a kid in an airplane.  They cry, whine, scream, puke, poop, cough, snot, sneeze, climb, crawl, grab, run, break, and come with way too much stuff (the carryon problem re-visited).  All this, while the rest of us are strapped into our seats, reflecting on our own mortality, inside a questionably maintained, jet fuel loaded, metal cylinder hurling through space at 500 miles per hour.  I don’t know, death seems kind of merciful at this point.

To say that the parents of these "Children of the Plane" appear frazzled is an understatement.  These moms and dads are pale, sweating, and snapping at each other as they pace the aisles, bouncing a baby like it’s in astronaut training, knowing that all eyes on the plane are watching and awaiting the outcome of their parenting skills.  Why would parents subject themselves to this?  I mean, I don’t want to burst your bubble mom and dad, but your two-year-old isn’t going to remember this trip to Disney World anyway.  Spare yourselves and us.  Stay home, rent a Pixar flick, and call it a day. 

As this sky-cophony continues, I keep glancing over at the flight attendants.  They hate us.  You know they do.  And they should.  We’re like unwanted guests showing up at their house and we’ve brought all our crazy relatives with us (and two of them have active communicable diseases).  Occasionally, the toddler from hell in the row in front of me, when she’s not melting down because she can’t have her dad’s iPod, stares at me from over the seat.  I can’t help but make eye contact, there’s nowhere else to look.  Ok, you’re kind of cute, but I don’t want to smile at you.  I don’t like you right now and I’m not going to pretend that I do.

Based on this most recent kinder-terror-in-the-skies experience, I am ready to propose the following:  The institution of “Adults Only” flights.  This is not a new concept.  Hotels, cruiselines, half the trailer parks in Florida…. all offer the option of kid-less environments.  They’re very popular, and airlines need to get with the program.  I’d even be willing to pay a little extra for an Adults Only flight.  Now, OK, I can be reasonable.  Perhaps there can be a few exceptions to the child-free flight rules.  A provision could be included that children under 12 can be granted a once-per-lifetime exception in order to book an Adult Flight.  But, this will require a doctor’s note substantiating some sort of dreadful and time-sensitive event, like grandma’s funeral is tomorrow and it’s more than a day’s driving distance away, something like that. 

Now, I’m not suggesting excluding families with children from recreational air flight all together.  Airlines could have Kid (Family) Only flights for those parents that want to voluntarily subject themselves to the family vacation (again, why?).  Although, what flight attendant is going to elect to work that route?  Maybe some sort of combat pay differential can be worked out to attract recruits. 

I think my idea is genius! Just a thought…..I wonder what would happen if there was a "computer mess up" and all the First Class passengers “accidentally” got booked on the Kid Only flights……..? 


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