There are downsides to air travel. When I drive, I never have to go through metal detectors or having my innards exposed on some weird X-ray machine. I don’t have to line up like cattle to board or risk sitting in between two people I don’t know and perhaps wish we’d never met. And when using the bathroom, I don’t have to figure out how fit my large Scandinavian body into those very tight spaces. (And as an aside, why can’t they figure out how to keep the toilet seat up?)
Well, all of us have our complaints. If you fly Southwest, like we often choose to do, you have the standing cattle boarding procedure. And God forbid you don’t sign up for early boarding and pay the extra bucks. Fail to do that, and you may wind up with that middle seat. And worse yet, you and your overhead baggage may be about plane length apart. Or you could be required to check that bag.
At least the soft drinks and coffee are complimentary. And the crackers are good. Mostly. Okay, sometimes—assuming they don’t run out of your favorites.
Fortunately, I’ve never been on a flight where they were so overbooked they had to yank a rebellious passenger off the plane. And I’ve not had them stuff my pooch into an overhead compartment only to discover a lifeless pet at the end of the flight. I’ve been blessed not to have a fellow passenger act like a mindless soul who demands the airline do something they can’t do. Like let him off the plane while in flight. Or give permission to smoke in the bathroom.
Airline mistreatment is a passenger’s greatest frustration. One fellow had his $3,500 guitar crushed by baggage folks. He received no reimbursement and no sympathy. More recently, another animal bit the proverbial airways dust between Chicago and London. Simon the Rabbit. Ironically, his fatal mistreatment happened at “O’Hare.” Then, United cremated Simon without permission. Oops.
Well, those are the exceptions. We hope. Flying is still the safest of all travel forms I’m told.
A few weeks ago, wired.com gave flyers a very good heads up on staying healthy when flying. This is a must read for flyers. The article is titled, “To Stay Healthy On Your Next Flight, Avoid Aisles and Stay Put.”
For example, I’ve ALWAYS chosen an aisle seat when available. With my size, I have no desire to climb over people — especially sleeping people — on long flights. They seem to not like it either. I’ll even put up with passengers and flight attendants carelessly whacking my elbows or upper torso to get by.
As the article describes, “The issue is exposure—not just to other passengers, but anything they touch. That means obvious hot spots (arm rests, tray tables, in-flight magazines) and less-obvious ones like aisle seats, which people use to steady themselves as they move about the cabin, frequently on their way to and from a lavatory.” I’m already feeling ill.
And as for staying put, this returns us to those lavatories on the plane. Microbiologist Charles Gerba claims they are overtrafficked and underserviced. Thus, many are swarming with E. coli. Gerba says, ”Your typical flight will have one (lavatory) for every 50 people. Sometimes it's more like one per 75."
Despite the bumps along the way, air travel gives us a special appreciation of God’s handiwork. Psalm 19:1 states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (NIV)
So all things considered, I still plan to fly. Usually now with rubber gloves. Even if I’m stuck in the middle seat.
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