Adventures in Flight

by Grant Patterson 9 months ago in airlines

The Sardine Complains

Adventures in Flight

I'm writing this in a Pearson Airport gate area while I wait for my flight from Toronto to Vancouver. After ten sleepless hours flying from Sao Paulo.

Hold onto your hats, folks. It's gonna be a snarky one.

You see, modern flying is, as I am sure I am not the first to point out, not what it used to be.

It's demeaning. It's loud, crowded, and filled with officious people and minor outrages. I file it in the same category now that I file colonoscopies: Occasionally necessary, but not to be savoured.

My flight from Sao Paulo was on a Boeing 787. Also known as the "Dreamliner," it's the newest aircraft in Boeing's fleet.

There are, to be sure, many "Dreamy" things about the Dreamliner. Unfortunately, from the standpoint of a man forced to fly Economy unless he sells a kidney and splurges, these Dreamy things mostly appeal to airline executives.

I have seen the Dreamliner being built in the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. Give me a second: I tend to geek out a bit on this sort of thing. I watched the Dreamliner as it was built from the viewing gallery of the world's largest building (we have discussed my fetish for superlatives before). Okay, I've watched it twice. Well worth the drive (told you I was a geek about this).

The assembly line consists of robotic jigs that move slowly along the giant factory floor as the plane nears completion. It's truly something to behold. Some of the other things that make the plane Dreamy are its super high-efficiency engines, its lightweight carbon-fibre body, and its smart electronics suite.

All very appealing to airline executives. You see, instead of using the advantages of this technological marvel to restore some measure of comfort and dignity to air travel, they have simply used them to cram people in, as usual, charging them the same or more, with less overhead.

Well, it is a business, after all. But as I sat in my aisle seat, my legs cramping, my shoulders being repeatedly slammed by anyone passing in the aisle, I couldn't see too much that was Dreamy for me. And as this story is all about me, me is what counts here.

The narrow aisles caused me to wonder as we waited at the gate for the doors to open: How the hell does anyone evacuate in an emergency? If getting off the plane when there's no smoke and flame, and the lights are on, is so painfully slow, what chance in hell do you have if the plane is engulfed in flames and toxic smoke?

I should think that the "Dreamliner" would quickly morph into the "Nightmareliner" then, wouldn't you?

Once released from the confines of my hermetically sealed tube, and freed of the necessity of breathing in others' farts, my problems did not end. You see, in the airport terminal, while one may have a lot more elbow room, one is still not free of the other great annoyance of air travel.

Other air travellers, that is.

It's a truism that "Hell is other people," and nowhere is this truer than in an airport. To be fair, I have always had a somewhat misanthropic streak, and seventeen years in law enforcement did not help abate it. But perhaps I should explain my theory about why people seem just a bit more annoying in airports than anywhere else.

People get treated like shit in airports. Sneered at, pushed around, their questions answered snidely, their flights delayed, cancelled, or diverted without any explanation, or with one largely composed of big porky pies.

Any psychologist will tell you: treating people like shit makes them act like shit. Only the most saintly among us can rise above it.

On a related note: I would like to make a prediction about my future. I would like to predict that I will someday be charged with Mischief, Willful Damage, or its foreign equivalent.

Why? Because the next time some motherfucker bumps into me in an airport while texting, I will sub-atomically smash his phone into smithereens. And I will own it proudly.

How did we get here? I remember flying in Economy as a kid to Disneyland. We were served filet mignon with real cutlery. My mom got champagne for free. Milton Berle was allowed into the cockpit to do a monologue (I know, I am old).

We were humans once. Now, we are slime clinging to the carbon-fibre wings of the Dreamliner.

What an age we live in.

Grant Patterson
Grant Patterson
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Grant Patterson

Grant is a retired law enforcement officer and native of Vancouver, BC. He has also lived in Brazil. He has written twelve books. In 2018, two of them were shortlisted for the 2018 Wattys Awards.

See all posts by Grant Patterson