More years ago than I care to remember the new Jet Age was described as “Breakfast in London, lunch in New York, dinner in Los Angeles, luggage in Rio.” We’ve been overtaken by events. Flown recently? If not, here’s the New Post Jet Age:
If you can afford it you can fly First Class and enjoy plush seats, advanced boarding, meals (if the flight distance is long enough), free checked luggage to your actual destination, lots of legroom, free drinks, pillows, blankets, hot towels, lavatories within easy walking distance and pleasant flight attendants.
If you are really privileged, and can afford it, you may belong to an Airline Club that has lounges in select airports where you get lounge seating in big comfortable chairs, large TV’s, free beverages and snacks, and even showers in some cities where long distance flights arrive. You can thus be clean and comfortable while avoiding the necessity of mingling with the proletariat.
If you fly other than First Class (or Business Class when available) this is what you get, and what other choices you have:
• Rock hard seats with what appear to be wooden slats originally designed for 19th Century railroad cars.
• The seats were clearly designed for midgets with legroom sufficient to squeeze in followed by raising your knees to your chest.
• Seat trays that smack you in the belly.
• A soft drink or cocktails costing more than the fanciest bar in your community.
• Perhaps a small box with crackers, cheese, and something that cannot be identified – and occasionally a cookie.
• Boarding by Group number, as in concentration camps. If you are in the final group your fellow passengers might regard you as lepers.
• One carryon bag.
• Overhead compartments that accommodate backpacks of first graders.
• A “lavatory” way at the rear of the aircraft.
• At least three howling infants.
However, there are options for the canny traveler – with a cost:
• You can purchase several inches of increased legroom for varying amounts of greenbacks.
• You can purchase “Advanced Boarding” to avoid the opprobrium of being in Boarding Group 8.
• You can purchase rights to check each bag.
• On select flights you can purchase what passes for food.
• You can purchase alcoholic beverages.
• You can purchase the ability to watch TV (warning: the carriers might be working on making sound an optional cost).
• Not yet available, but apparently on the drawing board – special seat cushions to alleviate the agony of those slab seats (particularly on one unnamed air carrier).
Oh, I forgot…I retired from a major airline.