Fortunately – or unfortunately – I don’t fly all that often.
Unfortunate, in that not flying means I’m not going very many places. Sure, there was Ireland last May and Ireland last month, and Dallas coming up in a few weeks. (Dallas R/T covered by my late husband’s frequent flyer miles. Thanks, hon.) But I’m largely a stay at home.
Which is a good thing, because flying is not a tremendous amount of fun.
On the recent Aer Lingus flight, my sister claimed that the meal on the way over was the worst she’d ever had on a plane. It was pretty ghastly, I’ll give her that, but I’d have to rank a piece of beef on an Al Italia flight to Rome about 20 years ago a bit higher/lower on the worst ever scale. Having broken our plastic forks on the tough little food stuff, my husband and I concluded that the meal was actually half hockey puck.
Not picking on Aer Lingus – I actually kind of like them as an airline – but that recent flight to Ireland was only about half full. So why did they pack all those noisy college kids from Nebraska around us? I think they were good enough kids. (Weirdly, they were on some sort of Christian proselytizing mission to Northern Ireland.) But some of them had never been on a plane before, so they were all revved up. And they were doing what college kids do when two or more are gathered together, and that’s make noise and generally behave like jackasses. Which was the case with these kids until my sister gave them her best mother-of-a-college kid (a college kid who, in fact, knows how to travel without acting up and out) stink eye and stink voice, so the kids calmed down.
On the return flight, the food was actually edible. But the young Irish guy next to me sneezed in my direction throughout the entire flight. So I ended up bringing back a sweater for myself, a baby gift, and a two-week head cold.
So, no, flying – unless you’re in a bed on Emirates – is not a lot of fun. (Not that I would know this up close and personal, but I have seen the ads.)
Maybe flying never was, at least for those of us who missed out on the Golden Age of Air Travel, where everyone dressed up, everyone got a seat the size of a Barcalounger, and the food (presumably edible) was served on china plates. But I don’t remember it being quite so unpleasant in my days of business trips and regular vacations.
The airlines, of course, seem to continuously conspire to make flying even more awful, especially for those of us relegated to steerage. (Note to self: check out how many miles it would take to upgrade that Dallas flight to business.)
Legroom gets stingier. Food – appalling as it is – is sometimes not even given out. And now this:
I get annoyed when I have to straphang on a 20 minute T-ride from Brookline to Boston, always putting on a combo aggrieved/resigned expression and positioning myself in front of someone young, prominently flashing my senior T-pass. Imagine flying on the red-eye in one of these.
Meet the Skyrider 2.0. The name, right down to the 2.0, makes it sound like a cool device out of “Star Wars.” Who wouldn’t want to climb upon something called the Skyrider and zoom through the air? I’ll tell you who: Anyone in their right mind.
The Skyrider 2.0, engineered by Italian aerospace interior design company AvioInteriors Group and introduced at Hamburg’s Airplane Interiors Expo this month, puts passengers in a near-standing position, with their backsides positioned on sharply tilted polyester saddle/bike seat. It’s like a petite perch that puts you in a near-standing position for the duration of the flight. (Source: Boston Globe)
Installing these puppies will let an airline add 20 percent more passengers. Plus it will save on fuel.
“Skyrider 2.0 is the new frontier of low-cost tickets,” Aviointeriors declares on its website. It continues on an altruistic note, saying that these seats will allow those who couldn’t afford to fly in the past an opportunity to finally do so.
I’m guessing that these seats are aimed at short haul budget flights, like Ryanair, and not on trans-ocean flights. Still, I don’t think I’d want to spend even an hour strapped onto a bicycle seat.
I do see a few advantages. You don’t have the kid in the seat behind you kicking the back of your seat throughout the flight, or have the knucklehead in front of you jolt back his seat so that his head is reclining in your lap. You’d never have to listen to an announcement asking you to put your seat in an upright position – you’ll be there already! Plus it looks like it would be impossible to feed the masses, so there’s no worry about rotten food. And it doesn’t look like there’d be room for the person next to you to whip out a smelly tuna sub – which they should not allow to be sold in airports, by the way – a few minutes into the flight.
On the other hand, it would do absolutely nothing to prevent the person next to you from sneezing your way for six hours.
Let me know when each of these comes equipped with some sort of gumbometer – maybe one with mild laughing gas piped in; you know, the good stuff they give you when you have your colonoscopy – that protects you from the germs, squirms, and moans of your fellow straphangers.
Better yet, if air travel goes SRO, maybe I’ll just stay home.