Flying Comfortably is Not Guaranteed!

The end of a vacation is always kind of bittersweet. You have to travel home and it is often a long and challenging journey.  When heading home from an island, your travel options are limited; you can swim (not really ideal with all that luggage)), take a boat (that would be called a cruise and then your vacation wouldn’t really be ending, now would it) or you can fly (which is what my husband, Donnie, and I did because it is so practical and practicality is our middle name, plus we couldn’t afford the cruise option).

Our trip home from Barbados involved flying on an aircraft carrier whose name I will leave out. I will let you use your imagination because every airline has at one time or another had a bad day, er…bad week, er…bad year, er…bad decade (according to the reviews on this airliner that I checked out online). I am not sure how this airline stays in business because so many people who write reviews swear they will never fly it again.  Now in my opinion, making these kinds of assertions is not very realistic because usually you can’t follow through.  Often it is the only option for some destinations, and never again would mean you are grounded for good, or have to find some alternative form of transportation that does not yet exist.

Our flight home was on a fairly large jumbo something or another. One of the good things about the flight was we had free on-board entertainment at our seats which really is a must for long flights. This was different from our flight to Barbados where there was no on-board entertainment except if you had an IPad or rented one from them for ten dollars. Donnie had his IPad so he figured he was set but I don’t have one so I was screwed because I wasn’t forking out ten bucks for their crappy IPad. Now Donnie could have gallantly lent me his, but that didn’t happen. Chivalry is so dead in our house! Anyway, he downloaded the app and checked out the offerings and then he realized he was screwed, too because all they had were some really old bad movies and tracks from bands that no one has ever heard of, and for very good reason, according to Donnie. It was a long movie-less, music-less flight for both of us, but I digress.

Like I was saying, the plane was large and there were lots of people on it.  There were two rows of three seats each with 29 sections and I am telling you this so you can make a picture in your mind of how crammed in we were. Donnie, of course had the aisle seat, I was in the middle and, thankfully, a slender young thing had the window seat. I knew things were going to get interesting when just after take-off, the slender young thing indicated she needed to get out. We unbuckled our seat belts, took our ear phones out and wriggled out of our seats to let her out. She proceeded down the aisle, stopped at another seat, spoke to someone for two seconds and then came back to the seat wanting back in. We had to unbuckle our seatbelts, take out our earphones… well, you get the picture.

Things were proceeding along quite well until after the food and drink service cart made its first pass.  Suddenly, several passengers rose simultaneously and made their way to the two bathrooms which were located at the back of the plane. Now I have traveled by air a fair amount but I have never seen that many people need to use the bathroom at the same time.  They were lined up fifteen deep but it was so much work to get out of the rows that they must have felt it better just to wait it out in line rather than have to go back and wriggle back into their seats. It was then that I noticed that the average age of the passengers on the flight was around 75. For you young people who don’t yet realize this – age makes your bladder smaller and weaker, able to hold two to three drops of liquid before needing to go to the bathroom! Of course, seeing all these people needing to go to the bathroom made me realize that I had to go, too. Full disclosure – my bladder cannot hold one drop of liquid on a good day!

I decided that I would make a break for the washroom once the crowd died down because at this point there was no getting out of the seat because the aisle was blocked. About an hour later, I got my chance. I gave Donnie the signal, he undid his seatbelt, took out his earphones and wriggled out of the seat with both me and the slender young thing following, wriggling our way to the aisle.  Did I mention that the plane was cramped? I was quite excited to see that I was second in line. Yahoo! Suddenly we hit a bit of turbulence and the seatbelt sign came on.  I was not going to return to my seat at this point because I was next in line. One of the stewardesses then said to me, “Tell people they have to go back to their seat.” She might have actually said, “You and everyone else need to return to your seats” but my hearing was a bit off from the ocean water that had entered my ears while in Barbados.  I turned around and told the people standing behind me that the stewardess said they had to go back to their seats. Well, of course, no one moved because they all had waited for the line to die down, too and this was their big chance and plus, who was I to tell them anything. They were probably thinking I was lucky to even still be on the plane because I was wearing leggings and another airline had not let some girls on a flight the week before because they were wearing leggings. The stewardess then told me again to tell the people behind me that they had to go back to their seats – at least that is what I interpreted her words to mean. I relayed her message again but no one moved, including me. Thankfully, a toilet became available to me and I got in and got the door shut just as the stewardess shouted “Get back to your seats now!” Well one good thing was the aisle was clear when I came out and made my way back to my seat. Phew!

The stewardesses were hard working girls and they made several trips up and down the aisle offering water to passengers.  This was a really nice gesture, however with all those small weak bladders, it made for continued long line-ups at the bathroom.  I just want to say that whoever designed the layout of the plane needs to go back to whatever school they got their degree from and take some lessons in universal design for living because two bathrooms for that many people on a five and one half hour flight is not even reasonable and would rate a failing mark on a class project. That is, unless the point was to design something that would be cost effective and uncomfortable at the same time. Well, then they had a winner.

We made it back to Canada and were happy to get off that plane and make our connection to a plane that was even smaller and more cramped. Opting for first class is beginning to look very appealing and this is how I plan to fly once I win the lotto.  Until my ship comes in, however, I will have to fly econo!