Flying commercially: A new Combat Sport?

Perhaps you haven’t realized it, but we travelers have a new contact sport. Airline Travel! It used to be more relaxing and even enjoyable to fly commercially. You certainly didn’t have to risk bodily harm. Now, before I fly on an airline, I have to psych myself up.

Get in the zone. Breathe deeply. Focus. Dodge that passenger’s elbow coming towards my head as he shoves his heavy bag into the overhead bin. If you’re not paying attention, you could get nailed by the lavatory door opening into you when you’re standing in the aisle. So far I’ve avoided that hazard. And don’t think you’re safe just because you’re in your seat. While serving beverages from the all too narrow aisle, a flight attendant recently came within inches of poking my eye out. That was a wake- up call.

Unfortunately, being elbowed is a common occurrence. In fact, earlier today another passenger almost elbowed me in the head. When I mentioned this (in a polite way), she looked at me with a blank stare, totally oblivious to what had happened, then mumbled what sounded like a half-hearted apology. Serves me right for not being on my game.

In this new contact sport, feet and knees are popular targets – especially if you’re in an aisle seat. It’s pretty brutal. Maybe we should start wearing protective gear when we fly. Helmets, shoulder pads and the like. I doubt the FAA will ever mandate this, but it’s not actually a bad idea. In the meantime, I hope you have fast reflexes.

The out of control situation and risks of this new contact sport have made me an even bigger fan of flying private aircraft. Actually, a flying sports car is my vehicle of choice.

– Martha Hall Bousfield

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