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  • a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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I have found, after living in the UK and being forced to take transatlantic flights that each flight is akin to sort of getting a high fever; where everything, even noise and touch is unbearable to the point of painful and yet it goes on and on and on and you swear, SWEAR on arrival that nothing but major drugs will get you in that plane again. Yet, in the same way the agony of childbirth somehow becomes a sort of "oh yeah" memory (please explain how 38 hours of contractions can become a "Yeah, I guess that was a bit long" comment within a year?) - you convince yourself that it is possible yet again.

I barely fit in the seats and I measure 17 inches while sitting down (ask my seating clinic PT), and the armrests on BOTH sides touch me. Plus as 6'3", the airline staff act as if I am another moocher if I beg to PLEASE sit somewhere like the exit row with more leg room. Since sitting down actually pushes the chair in front of me forward (sorry if you ever sat in front of me) - not that this will stop the person in front from repeatedly believing that thier chair is "stuck" and trying to recline in by bouncing their entire body wieght into removing my kneecaps.

I too remember days of yore when flying was fun and there was say, more than 2 staff for 700 passengers on a 14 hour flight. I remember when airlines would advertise thier food and legroom and FUN for regular not business class ($5000 for a really small bed is now what they advertise). But then came the budget airlines, and how they could save money if they didn't give unlimited drinks (fuel weight cost savings), and they could add 1 extra seat a row and on and on until now, in comparing say; incarceration in a minimum security prison and travelling on an airline - it seems you are allowed more books, MP3 players, room and less body searches in the minimum security prison. I know somewhere airlines are lamenting that people are not shaped as perfect verticle rectangles they seem to plan the space for.

So, you could say, I enjoyed your account (in the same wierd pleasure one gets at picking a scab) because it brought so many memories of my own.

By the way, you can buy an adapter to put your own headphones into the wierd two prong airplane system - I mention this because I have soundproof DJ headphones and this adapter JUST for plane travel - because I have, you know, EARS, not actual hooks on the side of my head which the airplane earphones seem to be designed for.


Other people suggested I bring my own earphones, but I don't have any and really didn't think I'd need them. With more alert packing on the return flight, I wouldn't have, either.

Honestly, my little cheapo foam earplugs from the hardware store were perfect, and would have stayed perfect if only I hadn't finished my reading material for the return flight in the first hour after waking up from a brief nap. The only reasons I was exposed to noise at all were (a) going out there, I thought I'd see how bad things got before I put the earplugs in, because I was on an Adventure, a Journey of Discovery, and here was something to discover, and (b) even with my crocheting, I was bored out of my mind once I'd finished my book, and thought I would just try the TV, which I discovered really does require better headphones than those awful freebies. I smacked my forehead many times when I realized I had packed all my backup reading material in the wrong bag. And then I suffered.

I'm really glad you brought up the exit row. When I bought my tickets, I purchased them online. I had the opportunity at that time to select my seats, and Jet Blue's little diagram does indicate which seats have the most legroom. Since, as you said, the seats around the emergency exits have that couple of extra inches, naturally I went to choose seating there first, but then I got a little pop-up window which said I could only have that seat if I pledged to take on the duties attendant with sitting in that row, and also pledged that I was able-bodied enough to be making that promise. The pop-up window did not say what the duties would be or how able-bodied one would have to be to accomplish them, nor could I find this info anywhere on the website, so I decided to go with one of the rows that had the second greatest amount of legroom.

When I got on the plane, I looked over the emergency instruction card, and there was a description of the duties of people sitting in the same row as the emergency exits. You had to be willing to help get the doors open and help people get off the plane safely, even if that meant you could be injured or killed yourself in the process. Also, unless you had good working use of all your limbs, you would automatically be disqualified as not able to provide the necessary level of service. It didn't say you had to have all your original, biological limbs, and I did think of making the argument that I had working use of most of my original limbs and one replacement limb, but I decided to emulate maturity and consider the possibility that my personal journey of discovery should not include putting other people at risk. Finding out whether or not I can get those doors open and help others out of the plane while using a prosthetic limb seems like a better experiment to try to set up lab-style, when no one else is likely to die if it turns out I can't be effective in that scenario after all.

Also, we were really only talking about an extra two or so inches of legroom. I can't say what I would have been tempted to try for an extra six.


Gads, sounds like an odyssey. I used to like flying more, too. But it really has become more like bus transportation, except with additional hassles of long lines and indignities of stripping half your stuff off and going barefoot through security and all. But it allows a lot more people to travel, so I guess that's the trade-off.


You know, maybe the time I've spent in hospitals has desensitized me to such things, but I really didn't find the security stuff all that terrible. Maybe I was lucky in whom I encountered, too.

Do you really think the way flying has deteriorated in terms of pleasure allows more people to travel? Perhaps it should, economically speaking, but I don't know that more people are traveling. I know more people who are afraid of flying than ever before. Also, even the "cheap" seats are still terribly expensive. (The horribly uncomfortable seats I sat in round-trip cost over $400, and that was the best price available at the time by a good $75 at least.) I think the number of people traveling has perhaps increased commensurate with the number of people who exist, but it's not like I actually know those figures. What does seem to have increased is the amount of discomfort coupled with the number of generally not very happy seeming customers. I can't help but think there's a connection.

It seems like, with everyone feeling So Hassled by the extra security, even cheap airlines should be going out of their way to make customers comfortable on flights. Now that I know what I know, I would pay that extra $75 if I thought I would not be assaulted by noise the entire flight or stuck steaming in a chair covered in a non-breathing substance.

But that's me.


I once asked to be moved from that exit row because, really, who wants the immobile in their way when we're all plummeting to our deaths? I was moved to the last row of a mostly empty plane and treated like a criminal for the cross-country flight. The crew that departed in Kansas told the incoming crew I was trouble and the evil continued all the way home.


Good grief, why were they mad at you? How bizarre!

To Jet Blue's credit, it has reserved its first three rows on every flight for "special needs" clientèle. On my flight to Long Beach from Logan, these included a woman in a wheelchair and her husband, parents with a very small baby, and, as the flight attendant was sure to announce, a soldier whom she also asked us to give a hand of applause "in recognition for his service and sacrifice." (I was close enough to him to see his embarrassment at this.)

I'm not sure what advantage is offered to a person in a wheelchair by sitting in one of the first three rows except that you're really close to one of the two bathrooms, and a flight attendant is almost always right there, able and apparently willing to assist you however you might need, even helping you have privacy using the bathroom when your wheelchair won't fit in by standing in front of the area leading to it. The seats are still every bit as cramped and uncomfortable as all the others, though.

Also to Jet Blue's credit, they announce at the beginning of the flight that if you find yourself seated in the exit row and feel uncomfortable, unwilling, or unable with respect to the duties that go with that, you should please let the flight attendant know and s/he will relocate you. So you wouldn't have to go through that punitive hell again. You're a tall person, as I recall, so you'd hate your new seat no matter what, but at least you wouldn't be any more in anybody's way than any other passenger, and no one would be mad at you.

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