We’ve all had differing experiences with air travel. Sometimes you are stuck in the back row of the plane next to the bathroom, other times you’re in first class being fed a five course meal. These experiences begin to shape how we view flying- if you fly a super cheap airline, you are likely to have a worse view of flying than if you frequently travel with a well known company. If you always choose a middle seat because of the cheaper cost, you are likely to not enjoy your experience as much as the person in the aisle. The list goes on.
As a Stand-By passenger, some people have this fantasy of my travels where I fly first class everywhere I go and live this life full of luxury. And while some people do have those perks, I do not. I’m sorry to ruin your fantasy.
For example, this week I have been on three different flights- LA to New York, New York to Atlanta, and Atlanta to LA. All three of these flights were completely different from each other as far as experience goes.
From LA to New York, I lived the high life: I flew business class with lie flat seats. This kind of in-air experience comes complete with a comforter, pillow, “Refresh” kit (complete with a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, a sleep mask, socks, lotion, chapstick, and tissues), a four-course meal, and a massage (yes, the chair could also massage you). Calling it a “nice flight” would be an understatement. This is the sort of fantasy people believe I live every time I fly.
Fast forward to my flight from New York to Atlanta: I flew Economy Comfort, a step behind first class but in front of regular coach seating. In this section, the leg room is a little bigger and your snack selections are better. I was assigned a middle seat, which is not what I prefer, but being in this section made up for it. It was a decent flight… until we landed. During our flight, the airline’s entire computer system crashed worldwide. This meant that there were no gates available at the airport because no planes had been allowed to take off. We ended up sitting on the plane on the runway for 3 hours- initial touchdown was 8:04 pm and the boarding door opened to let us off at 11:07 pm. What sounds like a nightmare to most was honestly ok with me- I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be and I was able to finish my homework. I was towards the front of the plane thankfully, but I was in a middle seat which wasn’t ideal. But in that kind of situation, the captain and flight attendants are completely out of control, so why make a fuss over it? There was nothing they could do except update us passengers and communicate with the air traffic controllers.
But yes: a much different experience from the first example.
Jump ahead to my current flying situation as I’m writing this post: I am on my way to LA from Atlanta. I was supposed to wake up and go to the airport for a flight with 50 seats on it, but I decided to sleep in an extra hour and jump on the next flight. Little did I know that this aircraft would be a little smaller than the other one, and there were less seats available. I got on the plane, but am currently sitting in a middle seat. Unfortunately, I am not in Economy Comfort- I am just a few short rows behind it. This means less leg- room, regular snacks, and a mediocre flying experience. But to add to this: On my left is a large man whose body is spilling over into my seat. He is wearing a rain jacket that is draped over onto my chair and won’t move it. He is on the window side, but our row mysteriously has no window. Talk about claustrophobia! To my right sits a man who has been arm wrestling me for the arm rest on my right side- he is in the aisle seat though and has a whole arm-rest to himself, and leg room for days! Can’t he see that this giant man next to me is taking up all of my space? Have some sympathy, man! The icing on the cake: the man in front of me has his seat pushed back. I am literally typing this with my hands attached to my sides, barely any room to be free.
Again- a MUCH different flying experience than the first and even the second.
So, have I unclouded those fantasies you had about me living the glamorous life, as Fergie described?
But at the end of the day, I can’t complain. There’s nothing bad about my life. There’s nothing I would trade about my flight benefits. There are people who are no longer able to get into this safe country, and here I am complaining about being able to fly all around the world for free?
I’m not complaining, I promise. The way I look at it, each experience gives me a new story to tell. I mean, I wouldn’t have this blog if I had the same, awesome, first class experience every single time I flew, right?
It’s not always the high life, but it’s the fly life.
-The Fly Girl