The first thought that usually enters my mind after I board a domestic plane, especially if I’m travelling alone on a work trip and sitting in the aisle seat is: I hope there’s a free seat next to me.
I can vouch for that tonight on my flight from Canberra to Adelaide, as the first draft of this post is currently being written on the back of an unused motion sickness bag. You heard me. It was either that or the back of my boarding pass, and that wasn’t going to work. Besides, I paid for this bag (or my ticket did) and I’m going to use it.
I watch as approximately 15 school kids board the plane. They’re accompanied by someone who could, on any given day, pass for one of them. He must be their teacher.
He appears to have spotted my row number and is already reaching out to put his bags in the overhead locker above my head.
So much for that free seat.
I give him the armrest – There’s really no point in arguing. It’s not as if the armrest makes any difference on a short flight. And I don’t have the energy to fight him for it, anyway.
So here we are, on a flight fully booked, in our standard economy seats, when John Travolta appears on screen to welcome us on the flight.
How often has he flown Economy? I’d like to ask.
I lean back in my seat as the plane starts to move and the air hostess starts to show us the safety procedures. She points at the emergency doors and then at the beautiful blonde family, who is demonstrating the brace position on the screen.
I never like to think about the actual reason for the safety messages, nor do I like to entertain the thought that the strangers sitting next to me might be it, in terms of companions on a deserted island somewhere, if the safety procedures turn out to be necessary. But at least we’re all in the same boat (or plane), whether that’s a good thing or not.
During the flight I watch a documentary about farming or something, just to pass the time and distract me from the smell of food filling the plane (and not necessarily in a good way). Although I don’t mind airline food, I don’t like eating while my stomach bounces against my rib cage, mimicking the rest of the plane, through unavoidable bad weather.
Who’s up for a wine? I know I am.
I pull off my headset and reach under the seat in front of me for my book.
Reading will pass the time.
And sure enough, a few shakes, a chicken-a-la-something-or-other and one or so wines later, we manage to land in Adelaide.
Of course we would. This airline has never crashed. Just ask Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man – My favourite part of the movie, by the way, when Dustin Hoffman’s character refuses to fly with any airline apart from Qantas.
What do you mean you’ve never seen Rain Man?
Hang on. You’re that young person who sat next to me on the plane, aren’t you?
Well, at least someone is reading my blog.