I had to take a business trip recently, and I paid extra for the economy seats that accommodate legs.
It was a nice trip from the start. When I printed my boarding pass at home the day before, I discovered that I had been selected by the TSA to receive valuable “pre-check” benefits. I didn’t know what that meant, but I vowed not to waste my money on the lottery anymore, as I had obviously used up all my luck.
At Westchester “Just Outside of Greenwich But Similar to What You’d Find on a Small Caribbean Island” Airport, I found that my pre-check status permitted me to bypass the security line and not remove my shoes and belt! Imagine, in this day and age, getting to your gate with clean socks and your pants still on!
I don’t know what I did to be chosen for such an honor. I’m certainly not a frequent flyer. Perhaps, if it has a record of my height and weight, the TSA simply did not want to see whatever is revealed by those airport scanners. I do know it can’t be entirely random; I doubt many people named Abdul get the free pass.
Anyway, so I zipped through security, which was good, because I knew that paying more for my “Economy Comfort” seat also entitled me to “priority” boarding. This allowed me to get onto my Delta flight before anyone else…except parents with young children, people needing assistance, first class passengers and Delta Sky Miles members.
You see, my ticket entitled me to priority boarding, but not Sky Priority boarding. I noticed that the first class and Delta Sky Miles people who boarded before me really enjoyed snubbing us “general boarders;” they insisted on going in the “Special People” boarding lane instead of the “General Boarders” boarding lane, even though no one was in the “General Boarders” boarding lane at the time and the “Special People” boarding lane was actually farther away from the ticket scanner.
Fortunately, being a General Boarder with priority boarding (Zone 1! Yea!), I got on the plane early enough to find room for my bag in the overhead compartment before the other passengers got on with all their worldly belongings.
I was then able to stretch out in my roomy (but still economy) seat, my knees actually not touching the seat in front of me, while the other poor schmoes sidled by to their regular coach seats, many of them having had to check their legs at the gate.
Soon I was treated to a (FREE!) snack: a choice of biscotti or pretzels. Everybody in the no-extra-room seats got the same snack choice, of course, but because my extra room seat was in the front of the section in back of first class, I got first dibs. I almost felt sorry for anyone behind me who might have had to settle for pretzels.
By the way, I think they serve biscotti because there’s no way to know if they’re stale. Biscotti starts that way.
So I settled in with my biscotti and tried to avoid the flying elbow of the guy next to me who was speeding around the touchpad of his laptop, doing something with spreadsheets which I hope for his sake weren’t highly confidential. Meanwhile, I overheard some of the poor souls in the back complaining about the lack of legroom in the regular seats, and I wanted to turn around and tell them that they didn’t know how lucky they were to even have seats. That was because I knew something they didn’t.
A colleague of mine and a regular reader of this blog (thanks, Dale!) had emailed me an article from Yahoo Finance (motto: “Yes, we’re Yahoo, and we’re still here”). It was about a patent that Airbus has applied for.
Airbus, as I’m sure you know, is a manufacturer of airplanes which, judging from the name of the company, strive to provide passengers with all the comfort of a crosstown bus in midtown Manhattan. The effect is made more complete by the propensity of neighboring seats to be occupied by crying babies, people blasting their iPods so loudly you can hear it through their headphones, and overly-large ladies who have, just prior to boarding, bathed in the most florally-scented perfume available.
Anyway, Airbus has filed a patent to help make their planes even more bus-like. According to the article, the patent is for a way to reduce the space that an airline must devote to each individual passenger by “having passengers lean back into cushions that resemble bike seats and strap themselves into place with seat belts…no seat back, no tray table and no legroom at all.”
In other words, Airbus has created…standees.
This will be very attractive to the airlines because people take up much less room when they’re vertical, so many more can be crammed onto each flight, although it’s unclear where their carry-ons would go. Possibly in the little basket in front of the handlebars.
Of course, once this type of accommodation is implemented, they will soon be charging a lot extra if you want to sit, and a little extra if you want to stand but not be touching another passenger (Personal Space Class!).
When it gets to that point, I might just opt to go baggage class.
See you soon.