Sunday, November 7, 2010

Learning to Fly, But Not in an Emotional, Tom Pettyesque Kind of Way

Last I checked, no one really wants to sit in the exit row of an airplane. Or at least, I don't want to. Let's count the myriad reasons why:

  • It's got a crappy view. The glory of having a window seat is being seated near, you know, a window - but when that window overlooks the wing of the plane, you may as well be sitting anywhere else. Like, on land. The view from an exit row window isn't a pretty one, unless you dig witnessing the occasional avian ingestion.

  • The row is wider. While this may mean more leg room for some, for me it means no way to curl up into a little knees-on-the-back-of-the-seat-in-front-of-me ball, which is my preferred flight position. And yes, I am a grown woman. What of it?

  • The steward(esse)s stop the drink cart smack in the middle of the cabin as they distribute beverages down the aisle. You know what's smack in the middle of the cabin? The exit row. This is particularly cruel when you need to use the restroom but must wait for the beverage cart to pass you - but only after drinks have been carefully poured & cheerfully delivered to evvvvveryone in the four rows in front of & behind you. And no, I don't want a Sprite, why are you taunting me?! And hey, gimme those pretzels.

  • You actually have to pay attention when the steward(esse)s give the seatbelt/airbag lesson. And by "have to," I mean, "they'll stare you down heartily unless you do." This delays the start of in-flight napping by at least 15 vital minutes.

  • Annnnd of course, the kicker: You actually have to know how to use those airbags & the window chute-slide-thingies in case of an emergency! What's worse, you have to agree to help other people before you help yourself, which means sure & fiery death - though I think most airplane crashes result in sure & fiery death, no matter the order in which their victims go... Still, I don't want to be known, in after-the-fact news reports, as that weakling who couldn't get the window open or, worse, who jumped out the window without so much as a "good luck" to the elderly people & helpless children clambering to get out ahead of her.

So listen up, AirTrain: Trying to charge me $20 to sit in an exit row just because there's more leg room? You can use all the fancy marketing terms you want, but I know a scam when I see one, folks. If I wanted to fly comfortably, I'd just take the train! Wait, that doesn't make sense. You know what I mean. 

Please note: I found a way around this charge by not checking in online or at a kiosk & instead sweet-talking a real, live employee at the Air Tran counter who gave me the last window seat for free, despite the fact that it happened to be an exit row seat the company deems Andrew Jackson-worthy. So I didn't pay for my seat, but I still wanted to complain, because that's how I roll. Luckily for me, the plane did not crash, so it's OK that I didn't pay attention, yet again, during the airbag how-to.
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