My desire to renew my blogging efforts with some vim was apparently short-lived and I now have back-to-back posts that have nothing to do with running. I will write up something soon about the amazing west coast trails and mountains that I just had the chance to run though, I promise!
We Appreciate Your Patience
Flying Economy in The 21st Century
As I sit aboard UA Flight 948 in transit from Denver to Seattle I peer awkwardly from my aisle seat over my fellow internees to catch a glimpse of the majestic Grand Tetons. The captain was nice enough to point out the view, though he was less forthcoming in providing parachutes to allow an escape from his sardine can in the sky. The mountains stir up excitement in me and a desire to explore, as they always do, but in almost direct contrast to the feelings those scenic vistas evoke, a sullen contempt still simmers within. I try to mask it as the flight attendant inquires about my interest in purchasing some over-priced snacks, it’s not her fault after all, and at least when she offers the menu you can catch a slight pause between “would you like a snack?” and “for purchase?” I choose to believe that she too thinks it’s bush league that 100 calories of pretzels are now affixed with a price tag after years of being complementary, but it could just be an unfamiliarity with the changing spiel.
We’re all in this together was their message after multiple delays and a broken down plane kept us in Denver much longer than hoped or planned for. Denver International Airport is so tantalizing close to the Front Range, yet so far away, which only adds to the pain. I guess in a way we are all in it together, only I can’t help but think that for all the doldrums of waiting and waiting, at leas the flight crew is being paid for this hassle. Here I sit now, thousands of feet above mountains I long to be running on, spending 11 hours of my weekend in transit for Monday morning work. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if it had always been like this, but it hasn’t, in fact it was almost *gasp* fun, once upon a time! The nostalgia filter applied when hearkening back to a pleasant childhood no doubt distorts my memory, but I do remember some details from a transcontinental flight two decades ago. We watched movies and listened to music for free, on free headphones, we ate meals for free, we checked multiple bags for free. Oddly enough the only one of those still free are the headphones. They’re most likely manufactured in some place where the materials and labor are much cheaper to source, I bet. While in the world’s third largest producer and processor of food, we find the cost of cheap snacks continuing to vault at the retail (airplane) level. I’ll leave that riddle for another time, though because I’m sure there are all sorts of labor costs, regulatory expenses and whatever else that play a hand, or so they’ll probably say.
A guilty thought interrupts my internal diatribe just now anyway and brings me back to that childhood trip. I’m ashamedly reminded that my chosen listening from Boston to San Francisco was the debut album from Nickelback. Now, either I’m complicit in the downfall of commercial flying by listening to that cacophony of mediocrity, or those days were so much better that the din of Chad Kroeger’s bellowing did little to affect the pleasant experience that flight impressed upon me. Maybe it’s a bit of both, and we really are all in this together, but to blame ourselves, not commiserate. Our flight is now preparing to make it’s final descent. What an ominous phrase that is, by the way. If nothing else this rant has been cathartic and helped to pass the time. I encourage you also to try writing down your grievances next time you to consider jumping from 20,000 feet to be the superior option and let me know how you make out when “flying the friendly (read: late, over-priced, squished…) skies”