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on flights

Boarding a flight is kinda weird.

First, the AC105 has an absurd amount of people onboard. I wonder if the rising property value of a city can be associated with how many people regularly commute there. The correlation is present for this flight. The line to board was the longest I’ve ever seen and rent in Vancouver makes me want to cry.

While walking from the terminal to the plane in that tunnel thing, I pass by a separate door used only by business class passengers. This is the first in a series of disappointments. As I enter the plane, I recall Dante’s Divine Comedy; Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. Though not in that order.

I walk past Paradise first. What I assume to be aggressively rich people are already seated and have to endure the somewhat hostile stares of all the lower class plebs walking past them. It this their punishment for paying such an absurd amount of money for a plane ticket? Wouldn’t they rather board after everyone else so as to avoid the awkward stares? I would.

Premium economy is after, which I suppose is Purgatory. The seats evolve from thrones to generous car seats.

Next is “preferred economy” which only serves to dishearten me more as I realize how low I’ve stooped to get on this plane.

That worry lasts only 5 seconds, or thirty depending on how efficient the people ahead of you are at packing the overhead compartments, until I arrive at the sea of regular economy seats.

I glance over the faces of the plebs. Given their location in the plane, they seem extraordinarily dignified and almost disgusted by their surroundings. I can’t help but read the thoughts behind their expressions of misery: “Aren’t I special enough to be in the front?”, “Don’t I deserve it?”.

A plane is a unique situation where middle to high-income people are reduced to taking common transport, like a bus. Of course, being on a plane is nothing like being on a bus, but that’s not the point. I’m trying to say that the type of middle-income people who don’t usually take public transportation are forced to if they want to travel by air. Everyone is reduced to the same level, rid of income separation for the most part. The size of your seat is the same as your neighbour’s, no matter your background.

Unless you are in Purgatory or Paradise.

The act of sharing space with a stranger is so uncomfortable to me that I would assume most people within their means would pay to be rid of that experience. That seems to be the problem. Our society nowadays seems hell-bent on not caring about anything and remaining distant from everyone (very general statement that I will not justify).

That’s why it seems weird that all these people have agreed to exist in these circumstances for five hours. Those two things don’t make sense together. I guess I’ve found the exact amount of value people place on their personal comfort.

All that said, the actual economy class seat isn’t all that bad. I’m 5’9” and 150 lbs and can sit somewhat comfortably.

More than your physical dimensions though, I think mastering the politics around seat manipulation are the key to a comfortable flight. Notably, armrest control and seat back position. My answers for both are simple.

In terms of the seat back. You have every right to lean your seat back as much as you like.

In some circumstances a full seat recline would be strange, as is exemplified by the passenger in front of me who is taking a nap at 45 degrees as the flight crew is walking by with lunch, but never unacceptable. The button is there for a reason and it’s stupid not to use it. There is not doubt it causes discomfort for your behind neighbour, as I am experiencing now, but that can always be somewhat alleviated with them reclining their own seat.

Armrests are slightly more difficult. As in most situations, I notice that older people assume the right to them immediately. Ageism. The key here is persistence. Find a purchase on the armrest and stay there. That is assuming the middle of the armrest, the most valuable position, is not taken yet.

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