First Flights by Deb Eileen

I remember the first time I flew. I was traveling to see my grandmother and was allowed to fly there –all-by-myself. I felt very worldly. As I recall I was provided with official airline wings which I clipped to my shirt, and I was even allowed to go up to the cockpit to meet the pilot. This was in the days before they feared 10 year olds wielding nail clippers. Flying seemed exotic and exciting. They gave you all the free Pepsi you wanted. Life was good.

I have flown a lot since that initial flight. I am no longer satisfied with a can of soda. I also note they no longer toss in a pair of wings. This is due to the fact that the airlines now seem committed to making the experience as miserable as possible for everyone involved.

This week I was traveling for my day job. It involved taking a float plane. Float planes are their own separate level of hell. Due to the size of float planes and their need to watch the overall weight of the aircraft, when you check in for the float plane they ask you how much you weigh.

This leaves you two options:

  1. Lie in an effort to save face and risk being the one responsible for bringing the entire plane down slamming into the ocean.
  2. Tell the truth to the attendant who is so thin she makes Nicole Richie look likes she’s wearing a fat suit. She’s so thin you have to fight the urge to sponsor her like a starving child in Africa.

This can be a difficult choice. I wonder if the airline staff automatically add 10lbs to everyone’s stated weight. I listened when other people checked-in and if they give a number I found suspect, I gave a very loud coughing fit to draw the check-in girl’s attention to this clear and flagrant lie.

The plane itself is small. By small, I mean it is like piling yourself and ten of your friends onto a sofa with wings. It looks like something a high school kid made in metal shop. Once up in the air it is so loud that your ears may bleed. You hardly notice because you will be spending the bulk of the trip hoping you don’t fall out of the sky.

My husband and I have the travel diaries of his grandparents. Travel was an entirely different experience in the 1940’s. They talk about getting dressed up for the flight. There is one entry where his grandmother talks about the near panic she had because she couldn’t find her white linen gloves. He wore a hat and tie. Now I consider myself lucky if I am not sitting next to someone who is still wearing their PJs from the night before.

I am clearly a first class girl trapped in a coach body.

Do you enjoy traveling?

9 Replies to “First Flights by Deb Eileen”

  1. Traveling, yes. Flying, no. I love to drive… if I had my way, I’d drive everywhere. In fact, my dream is to sell my home, buy an RV and just spend the rest of my life touring the continent.

    DH isn’t going for it.

    Do you ever notice that the senior citizens who fly still typically dress up?

  2. As a child, I flew with my parents a lot and it was definitely a treat. Now getting on a plane (yikes, can’t imagine a float) is akin to being herded into a cattle car/bus. And the irony of airline travel is that you’re likely to spend more time — required to arrive 2 hours before departure — in the airport than on the plane…*sigh*

  3. I remember people getting dressed up to fly even in the 70’s. Times have changed. The only time I was asked my weight for a flight was for a helicopter tour in Hawaii. You’re right, in that instance death or the truth is a very hard choice.

  4. Flying used to be such a treat…unfortunately, I got more blase just as airlines started cutting corners. Now I just pray for bulkhead and hope I’m really into whatever I’m reading…

  5. I enjoy the IDEA of traveling. The execution of it, not so much. And I’m a very organized traveler, I am always too early, always have too many copies of my itinerary. Two things that have absolutely saved me this past year while flying are my iPod and Bose noise-canceling headphones. I’ll never fly without them again, they take all the noise fatigue out of the equation.

  6. I have flown much more than the average person. In fact, Eileen and I and our spouses have flown on a few flights together. Once, we were in a line so long to check in that I wondered if we were going to get seats out on the wing. It was in a foreign country and the “line” was loosely defined which drove me crazy. I stewed over it as Eileen’s husband remained his normal calm. In the end, we got upgraded and great seats and a nice ending to the story. My angst was unjustified and I’ve tried to remember that.

    I began flying extensively in the late 80’s when the airlines were offering triple miles and an upgrade to first class was just a 20 dollar upgrade sticker. I do think that air travel has been reduced to bus travel with the extra hassle of security. As I take the shoes off my 2 year old to go through the scanner I think about the preposterousness of it all but admit they have to be seen doing something to address the “security issue”.

    As scanners that can do a full body scan and can tell everything you’re carrying are now hitting the airports, I wonder how many more personal rights we’re going to lose…

    That aside, I like travel, even flying. There’s a sense of freedom, of being able to ignore all the other responsibilities and just concentrate on getting from A to B and enjoying the experience. Of course, I enjoy airport food so I guess that just makes me a bit different in the first place… 😉

  7. I’m with Kristy — I enjoy the idea of traveling way more than actually getting on a plane, train or bus.

    A float plane?!?! Sounds terrifying (especially the part about having to tell them your weight!).

  8. Traveling? Love it. Flying? Nope.

    Someday, when I get my book published, I want to go on a cross country DRIVING roadtrip promoting the thing. Not flying. Driving. The gas prices are awful, but it’s worth it if I don’t have to board a plane.

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