First Flight Fizzles

September 18, 2009

in Portly Stories

I’m not what you call a frequent flier… I took the plane twice in my life. First time was in 1998, before security was a pain and at a time where flying was still supposed to be enjoyable. I was pretty stressed about my first flight but I decided to book a window seat. I wanted to enjoy the view.

I was among the first to get onto the plane, so I go straight to my seat and look at the other passengers coming in. There were three seats in the section I was in and the middle one was still free when 90% of the passengers were boarded. So I’m telling myself, “Sweet, I’ll have spare room.” Duh, I just jinxed myself. A very HUGE guy got into the plane. He had to walk sideways and even then it was quite a feat. I was holding my breath, hoping he would pass by and I was very happy when he went going down the aisle.

Then he came back, smiled at us and said, “Sorry guys, that’s me in the middle.”

So my “spare room” ended up limiting my own seat. But hey, the guy was really nice and friendly and so far it wasn’t really an annoyance.

But at some point I realized that I each time I had to go to the bathroom, I would need to ask him to completely move out of the alley as I couldn’t just walk past him. I use the bathroom a lot when I’m nervous… It ended up being not too bad as I didn’t drink too much on the flight.

Then my “let’s watch the view from the window” idea went down the drain as it was already dark outside and I couldn’t see anything… And somehow I learned how cold a plane window can be at high altitude overseas. I got the shivers and had trouble sleeping. But THEN I realized the guy next to me had the other problem, so he was using my AC, his AC and the other guy’s AC while we were trying to sleep. So I was freezing, and my AC was on and the guy was sweating so I felt bad for him and tried to fight hypothermia instead.

It ended up being a nice flight but all the ingredients for a disaster were present. Good thing I don’t fly too often.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Demotage September 18, 2009 at 9:57 pm

I don't know how much I've flown – but it's a lot. My primary airline, where I collect most of my FF's miles tells me that I"ve flown over 1 and 1/2 million miles just on them.

But this post brings back memories of my first flight. I grew up pretty poor, so airline travel was not an option for me and my family. Occasionally, we'd go the the airport to pick up a friend or relative. This was in the 60's and early 70's at the then-called Orange County Airport (now John Wayne). At that time the passenger terminal consisted of 1 small building, with no gates. The planes parked on the tarmac and were serviced by air-stairs. The building had an outside balcony where you could wait outside for the planes to disgorge their pasengers. I loved going there – the smell of the jet fuel, the planes out on the tarmac – well it all just seemed so romantic and exciting.

Well, in my senior year of high school, I won a flight to Sacramento to meet (I'm not making this up) Ronald Regan who was then Governor of California. I was most excited about the flight. It was on Air California (later to become AirCal). Because we were traveling in a group, I ended up sitting on the aisle (AC had open seating at the time). I was disappointed – for my first flight, I wanted a window seat. So being a teenager and completely unaware of the social rules of flying, I sat quietly in my seat until the last 15 minutes of the flight. I'd noticed that the elderly woman at the window as not even looking out the window, and it was killing me! At last, I worked up the courage to ask her if she would switch seats with me because it was my first flight. She graciously agreed, and chided me for not asking earlier. I was so excited until I got to the window, looked out and could see absolutely nothing! We were descending through the clouds. The ceiling was very low, because I didn't even catch a glimpse of the ground until we were very close to landing.

So we had our visit to Sacramento. It was nice, but I was fixated on the flight home. I was GOING TO GET A WINDOW SEAT!!!!! So we got to the airport and I maneuvered myself to the front of the line, and got on the plane among the first 10 people! I settled myself in my window seat and was so happy! The plane filled up, but I didn't care. I had my window. Then, just before departure, they paged me by name over the PA. They asked me to come to the front of the plane. I had no idea if this was unusual or not, but I went. It turned out that in my haste to get on the plane, I'd left behind in the terminal a Manila envelope with my name written on it. It contained my souvenirs from the State Capital including an autographed picture of Ronald Regan. I retrieved my envelope and went back onto the plane, but someone had taken my window seat and wouldn't give it back. There were no windows available and I ended up sitting in the middle. I would gladly have traded by autographed picture of Ronnie for a window seat, but there were no takers.


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