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CHARTER THIS
                                                          
            Ever been on a charter flight before? Charters are based on moving as many people as possible, as cheaply as possible, with absolutely no thought to comfort or style.
            But it’s not all about profits. Engineers get paid to figure out how to squeeze enough bodies into an aircraft so as to restrict movement of any kind. The airlines won’t tell you this, of course, but those smiling stewards don’t really want you up and moving about, getting in their way while you’re recirculating the blood that is pooling in your ankles. They want to contain you without actually resorting to the use of leg restraints, so the space is configured in a way that makes it almost impossible to leave your seat. As uncomfortable as those seats are to sit in, getting out of them is worse.
            I took my last (and I do mean my last) charter trip to the Caribbean. The fare was pretty good, and there was no single supplement. (What a ‘single supplement’ means is that you pay about fifty percent more for your trip than you would if you were travelling with someone. Then they put you in a room that has, say, a view of the elevator shaft, or maybe a dumpster.)
            Anyway, by the time we were taxiing, I was involved in a personal relationship with the guy sitting next to me, and all I’d done was stash my purse between my feet. There is no way I could avoid intimate contact - knees, arms, my left breast - because the seats are as close as conjoined twins.

            Oh sure, now they’ve got those cool t.v. screens built into the chair backs to keep you quiet and distracted, but that chair back is about eight inches from your face.  If you’re not wearing reading glasses, forget it. And if you attempt to retrieve those glasses from your handbag, which is as we know wedged under the seat in front, at the very least, your head is going in someone’s lap. Now, in some situations, this is a great way to make new friends, but you never get a George Clooney parked next to you. More likely it’s a guy wearing a Buffalo Bills jersey. It is almost certain that he will have a) bad breath, b) body piercings, or c) gas.

            Charter Flight Rule Number One is ‘Never take a window seat if there’s any chance you’ll need to use the toilet’. (And, I’m sorry, once you’re over forty you’re not going anywhere without using the bathroom at least once.) Sure, the view out the window can be a fun distraction, but when nature calls, you’ve got to get from here to there without looking like a Flying Wallenda.
            The guy next to me winced as I used his head like a handrail, and the second guy introduced himself, which was the only decent thing to do, considering I was sitting in his lap. I offered him five hundred bucks for his aisle seat.  I could have offered him free membership in the Mile High Club; he wasn’t budging. I hope he got leg cramps.
            The lavatory itself is a piece of work. Nothing looks like a real bathroom. The reason everyone takes so long in there is they’re trying to figure out how to flush, how to get hot and cold water at the same time, and where the waste goes. And I still can’t use the john without thinking about Airport.

Anyway, I have made my decision. They can keep their charter flights. In future, I will fly in a more modern style - where you pay a whole lot more, but you get to pack your own lunch.