Sunday, March 8, 2015

The romance of business travel

My trip home from Portland the week before last is a perfect example of the romance of business travel.

The day began with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call, a call that came less than four hours after my work had allowed me to crawl into bed.  Nothing says "happy day" like less than four hours of sleep. 

The drive to the airport was entirely in fog on wet streets, another sure-fire way to relax you. 

At the airport, everything went surprisingly well, so I even had time to start working and grab some water and an egg salad sandwich for breakfast.

My seat was an exit-row aisle on the two-seat side of the plane, so I was hopeful about it.  Until I started walking down the plane.  Staring at me was the largest human I have ever encountered on a plane.  I was thinking, "Please don't let him be my row mate."  He was thinking the same.

I know this because he was my row mate.  At six foot seven and 360 pounds--he shared his size as we talked--he was so big the divider between the seats simply could not go down.  So, we spent the many hours to DFW in full contact along our sides.  He could not have been nicer, but still.  He was friendly and willing to talk and willing also not to talk, but we simply did not fit in the space available to us.  Neither of us ever got angry, but we also never became comfortable.  We were on the plane over four hours, as it worked out, and every minute in the seats was unpleasant for us both.

As we were approaching Dallas, his home, he showed me that the airport was slowly shutting down due to ice.  Lovely.

Lunch was good and included a Red Mango parfait.  After it, I worked in the Admirals Club until my (delayed) flight was getting close to boarding, at which point I decamped to my gate.

After half an hour of standing there and watching the flight slip, the airport folks moved us to another gate. 

We stood there for another hour and a half but finally boarded the plane.

Which sat on the tarmac, awaiting a chance at de-icing.  At one point, the pilot turned off one engine and warned us the plane would get a bit colder but that if we ran the engine we would have no chance of getting home. 

We sat on the tarmac some more.

I again had an exit-row aisle, this time on the three-seat side of the plane.  The fifty-something man in the seat next to me spent every second of his time on the plane chatting up the thirty-something woman stuck in the window seat.  He never stopped talking.  Never.

The pilot announced that if we didn't make it to the de-icing station in the next hour, we would have to turn around and spend the night in Dallas.

Forty-five minutes later, we made the de-icing station.

After three hours on the tarmac, we finally took off. 

We landed five hours later than the original schedule showed. 

I reached home a bit over half an hour later. 

Total time from wake-up call to reaching my house:  15 hours 50 minutes. 

A very special travel day indeed.


Michelle said...

First, I have sympathy for the very large man that does not fit into a single seat, however, he surely knows he does not fit into the space provided and should have been required to buy two seats to fit his bulk. I am not bashing on him because he is large, I am pointing out that sitting on one hip for several hours because your seatmate is too large to fit into his seat and oozes over onto yours and not being able to change seats as the plane is filled is not fun. This was my experience for a 4 hour flight. I was pissed. Secondly, always carry headphones. Always....having also been stuck with seatmates that don't understand conversational boundaries, I pull out my headphones, put them on and pretend to be absorbed in whatever I am listening to. Having the initial niceties conversation is one thing, being bombarded for an entire flight by small talk is another. He was hitting on her and she had no escape. Can't wait until they approved the use of cell phones on a flight!! Won't that be fun!

Mark said...

No one required the large man to buy a seat, so I got what I got. I was wearing earphones on the second flight. The man was simply so loud and insistent that I could always hear him rumbling along.

Anonymous said...

Airlines do have 'large person' policies - if they can't fit in a seat with the armrest down and a seatbelt extender on, they're required to buy another seat (unless in Canada, where the airline is required to _give_ them another seat)... but they're selectively enforced, if and only if someone complains. Which puts it all in your lap as a fellow passenger: be a comfortable asshole or an uncomfortable "nice guy". Either way, you lose.

Mark said...

I did not know that. Interesting. Thanks for the data.

Rosanne said...

I did not have a large person next to me but had the day from H on a flight home on Christmas day. Delayed flights, move to a different flight, missed connections...and home to a Christmas dinner by myself (luckily, I found a Chinese restaurant that was open). Flying can really be terrible these days and sometimes, ESPECIALLY horrible. Sorry about your awful day.

Mark said...

Thanks for the kindess. I am sorry your flight was so bad--and on Christmas at that.


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