As we know all too well, there is the disingenuousness: “Sir, we had no idea the plane originating in Sweden and connecting through Cleveland would be downsized…”
There are lies: “Of course the seat reclines.” Which it didn’t. No matter how hard I clicked the button and jammed the seat back during the entire 11 hours from SFO to Heathrow. (I know better now, thanks to the gods at seatguru.com.)
And then of course, there are the seats…
It’s that time of year: holiday travel time. Gnaw off your elbows and pray you packed your muscle relaxants. Surrender your dignity and comfort as you join the huddled masses in Veal Economy Class.
In California, whence I hail, veal calves, pigs and chickens have better legal protections than gay men and women.* And probably airline passengers as well. For anywhere from $300 to $1200 you can fly coach roundtrip—excuse me, Economy Class (aka World Traveler and other euphemisms)—between SF and DC and share four inches of elbow space as well as a closeup view of the cowlick on the back of the head of the person in front of you.
I’m probably an inch shy of average height for an American man, yet even I find it physically impossible to retrieve something from my carry on bag beneath the seat in front of me if that passenger has reclined the merest 3 degrees. With the forward seat at perfect vertical my knees have perhaps an inch of spare space provided there are no survival tools like magazines, water bottle or bags of granola in the seat pocket ahead. (How likely is that?) Work with an open laptop?…Ha!!
Wait…We pay money for this?!
I would gladly pay 15 or 20% more for a ticket to be given a modicum of humane space and reasonable treatment on a flight over two hours. I paid $320 each for Arvin and me to go back East for Thanksgiving this year (prescription drugs not included). Twenty-some years ago I paid $269 roundtrip, connecting through St Louis. That’s an increase of less than 2.5% per year in the cost of a roundtrip ticket, well below the inflation rate.
With the passage of Prop 2, veal calves should be able to turn around in their cages. We enduring the friendly skies should be as lucky.
*(Of course I’m not really making a real comparison about treatment. I’m glad Prop 2 passed. The treatment of veal calves is atrocious, and it’s about time we started treating creatures that provide us with sustenance with a little bit of civility before we slit their throats. And yes, I am still annoyed about Prop 8.)