Friday, December 20, 2013

The Long Haul

There's really nothing graceful about flying economy coach from Omaha to SE Asia. The cabin space is congested with people all around you. Meanwhile, everything on an airplane is small: small seat, small tray table, small seat pocket, small bathroom, small pillow, small blanket. Fortunately, many asians are of smaller stature. And because they're also generally polite, encroaching on your space isn't very common.

The distances travelled are big. Long flights. Long layovers. When flying to SE Asia, you're in for at least two international flights over seven hours, and one lengthy layover. For example, on this recent trip, it was 12 hours from Denver to Tokyo and another seven more from there to Singapore. Add in the layovers (and domestic legs) and more than a day of your life has just passed.

There are some things that can help improve the situation. Book early and claim an aisle seat. Get up and walk lots. Pack a snack bag and an empty water bottle. Fill it often. A washcloth and a small toiletry kit. Personal headphones. Compression socks.

During the flight, I make an effort to take in the various cultures of people around me. What they wear, how they eat, etc..  But my favorite is listening to the Asian flight attendant's sweet voice speaking Japanese over the PA system. And thanks to the 80s hair band Styx, I know at least one word of Japanese. Still, that doesn't prevent me from attempting to translate:

into, "the Captain has asked that you return to your seats and put your seat belts on. THANK YOU."

By far, the worst part of international flying is trying to get sleep. I'm envious of those who can pull this off.

Once, there was this petite Asian woman who slept in the "crash position" from Houston to Moscow (11 hrs) and again from Moscow to Singapore (12 hours). For the entire trip she didn't eat, drink or get up. Ever. I wondered if she had died or had become a member of the undead shortly after takeoff. (She hadn't.) Later, when I saw her moving quickly to the terminal's toilets, I also wondered if she had begun to develop a urinary tract infection. (Prolly).

I typically take a 15 minute power nap on the first long leg. After the layover, and several hours into the second leg, exhaustion takes over and I shut down hard. I fall into a violent, semi-hallucinative dreams accompanied by uncontrollable appendage failings. At best, it's embarrassing. Fortunately, I haven't punched anyone. Yet. Seriously, it scares me to the point that I literally seatbelt-lock my arms to my body. And the legs? Well, the unfortunate person sitting in front of me is at least somewhat protected by a reinforced steel foot-cage. Uh sorry, petite Asian lady in the seat in front of me.

Oh wait, she's that zombie with the UTI assuming the crash position. We're good.

No comments:

Post a Comment