Thursday, October 20, 2016

Reflections on flying

I flew premium economy from Marseilles to DC. I had upgraded the 4 long legs of this tour (as in flights of 6+ hours) because I am a large woman and a tall woman and while I can fold myself into coach for a few hours it's no fun for anyone. I was also flying a lot of Lufthansa flights and while Air NZ  is quite spacious I've flown Lufthansa coach before and it was sooo bad. Los Angeles to Frankfurt with my knees jammed in sideways, hard against the seat in front left me crippled for about a week. This wasn't about my weight but about the length of my actual bones. Anyway, I reckon on this Lufthansa DC flight about half the length of the plane was business and premium-economy - which is a lot. Which tells you something about how airlines have made flying coach so blimmin awful that anyone over 5ft10in needs to be a contortionist.

The other thing I noticed is how hard it is to travel if you are older or have mobility issues; not full-on wheel chair but any kind of impaired ability. One of my connections required me to walk as fast as I possibly could, using every single travelator and walking fast on those too, from gate A69 to gate Z69 to make a connection. It took a solid 20 minutes of fast walking and I was the last person on the plane - sweating like a sweaty-thing and out of breath. This would have been impossible if you had a sore leg or foot, or a breathing condition or had short legs. I didn't see any obvious means of getting assistance unlike Washington where a bevvy of red caps were plane-side with wheelchairs and friendly smiles to assist.

And baggage carousels! I watched a lovely group of older women enjoying a holiday together try to collect luggage in Sweden and it was so hard for them to manhandle their bags off the conveyer belt. I helped of course, as anyone would, except no one else had offered to help. Having a fit young thing along with them would of course have helped but it would have changed their lovely holiday from 'a girls weekend' to an 'escorted trip of oldies'.

With our population getting so much older proportionately, and so much of the wealth in the hands of the babyboomers who are now retiring, and able to spend it, air travel might have to rethink itself. I can definitely see how cruising has so much appeal.

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