Modern Travel Is Killing Us
I've just spent 10 hours on a plane. That is a long time and doesn't take into account the hour-long flight from Newcastle to Heathrow or the 3-hour layover in Heathrow. Of course I'm coming home to visit my mom, so it's worth it. However, I think we have the major airlines to thank for any future pain-relief work coming our way.
The equipment was an aging 747 which had been renovated a bit to seem newer. I always reserve an aisle seat so I can get up without disturbing anyone. There were two seats between me and the window. In those two seats was a lovely couple, very pleasant, not too chatty, and very obese.
She took up her own seat plus a quarter of his. He took up the remainder of his and part of mine -- even with the armrest down. He overflowed his seat and when we sat shoulder to shoulder, my trunk was laterally shifted to the left and my head hung in the aisle. I was afraid I would be decapitated every time the trolley went by! It was a completely full flight with not another seat on the plane (at least not in economy).
Don't even ask how mealtime went... Cirque de Soleil has nothing on the contortions we went through! Despite getting up frequently and spending a fair amount of time standing in the back near the restrooms, I was still pretty achy and uncomfortable by the time I got off that plane. To be fair, the gentleman (and he was indeed a gentleman) in the middle seat got the worst of it. Poor guy was wedged between the two armrests and could barely move for 10 hours.
Another flight I took over in September was even more cramped aboard a brand-new A380, the double-decker, where the seat was so narrow I couldn't sit on my own hands because there wasn't enough room. Now I'm no athlete but neither am I obese. That was also a tortuous flight.
As airlines try to squeeze more and more sellable space on their aircraft, people are getting more and more twisted at their expense. On a short flight, people can manage a slightly uncomfortable position for an hour or so if they're in reasonable health to begin with. A 10-hour flight? Nope, one needs PT after something like that.
I think we need PTs on the design teams at Boeing and Airbus! I think there needs to be some oversight as to what is permissible in aircraft design. I flew different carriers on both the trips I mentioned and both were equally painful. I can't afford to fly business class in those gorgeous individual pods that go nearly flat. Nope, I'm stuck with a narrow seat that's way too close to the one in front of me. When will the shrinkage stop? We are a captive audience that on occasion, just has to fly no matter how painful the price or the experience.