There is nothing about air travel that says “day of leisure,” but we do it as the quick means to an end. We walk barefoot through security (picking up who knows what foot fungus) knowing that a week on a beach or time with loved ones is awaiting us.
We dutifully pack up tiny bottles of liquid, endure hours with pretzels and peanuts as the only sustenance, and anxiously eye the overhead bin for space. I’ve sat next to fussy children, and smiled supportively and without judgement at the parent wrangling the toddler.
But there is one thing I despise on planes...the person who reclines their seat! I am filled with hatred in my heart and even my pacifist sensibilities are tested as soon as the person in front of me decides to lay back into my lap.
As leg room gets progressively smaller (Delta’s space has been shrunk to a mere 31 inches), reclining seats get progressively more annoying. I have a suggestion; if airlines are going to make seats to fit a munchkin, at least stop making seats that recline.
Honestly, does 4 inches of lean make it that easier to sleep? Those four inches make it impossible to get out of my seat without a healthy yoga practice, and using the tray table isn’t worth the cramping.
On a flight last week, the young man in front of me took full advantage of the ability to lie back in his seat. He wasn’t even trying to sleep. He was watching a movie, snacking on peanuts like he was home in his Lazy Boy. Meanwhile, behind him there were daggers of hate, disgust at his thoughtlessness, and a letter composed to Delta Airlines – Take away leg room to add an extra row of seat if you must, but please make those seats stay in the upright position!
In the grand old days of aviation, men and women would dress up in coats, ties, and dresses to board airplanes, then relax and enjoy Oysters Rockefeller and a gin and tonic on their journey in the sky. It was a rich experience for the wealthy; no one ever asked for Frequent Flyer cards or an extra bag of pretzels.
Airline travel today is now a cattle drive; the masses are driven through chutes, and the oysters have been replaced by a bag of peanuts and a Diet Coke. And while airline travel is now something to be endured rather than experienced – a good thing economically – it has also ushered in a host of obnoxious passenger behavior.
My two biggest complaints are loud and boisterous conversation and sloppy dress and actions. Unlike my wife, I actually don’t care about the reclining seat from the forward passenger. However, I do object to hearing the life story or the political comments from some guy from Dallas who confuses a Delta flight with “open mic night” or an LDS testimony meeting. (Hey, some of us want to read, sleep, or ponder; if the story of your first marriage is so interesting, sell it to a book publisher!)
Sloppy dressing is a relatively new thing in air travel. I don’t expect a passenger to dress for a formal dinner party, but I don’t want to sit next to a sweaty guy in a tank top or a 20-something dressed in pajama bottoms. There is a difference between flying to Denver and visiting the gym.
And one more thing – the sloppiness extends to the objects people stuff in the seatback pockets. Flight attendants can tell you horror stories about what they have found in...OK, I won’t go there!