Thursday, September 24, 2015

About that cattle car: not a far-fetched metaphor

In recent years I've flown across the Pacific Ocean a couple of times. Also the Atlantic a couple of times. But I don't think I've done quite what I did Wednesday: fly 11 hours without a stop.

The trip between Frankfurt and San Francisco makes for a very lo-o-ong flight. In fact, If I had to plan another European crossing soon, I think I'd be open to building in a short change of planes on the east coast, just to break up the tedium.

This Lufthansa flight was on an Airbus 380, the pride of their fleet. The plane really is a kind of cattle car of the air, seating 526 passengers when full. This one was full.

I did not find the plane inherently uncomfortable. I and most others were traveling relatively light; we weren't crowded by bags and carry-ons as is sometimes the case on domestic carriers. The leg room wasn't the worst. And a large crew worked hard to keep us fed and watered. For the sake of distracting the human cargo, good wifi and electrical outlets at each seat would be a major improvement. Air Canada provided both on my outbound leg and they certainly helped.

But 11 hours locked in a small space with that many people is inherently wearying. As a consequence, I'm taking a day off more substantive blogging today ...


Susan Leone Starr said...

you really, REALLY want to think about crossing in a ship. it is a saner way for human beings to transport ourselves through time and space (money be damned!)

janinsanfran said...

Susan -- you are onto something, but I don't know ... My mother took me on a small ship cruise around the UK long ago. Wonderful experience, putting us in the Shetlands at the summer solstice, an extraordinary delight. But -- I always felt that if the ship had sunk enroute, society would have lost nothing much with the loss of its human cargo. Hikers are mostly a more tolerable lot.

Susan Leone Starr said...

Jan - my own one brief voyage, also with my mom long ago, was spent in the bar, where i cared not a whit by whom i was surrounded, and the small pool just below the room where the captain goes (has a name, I am sure), where no one liked to be except me because it had no access to lots of people and lots of booze (both of which turn out to be overrated).

Hattie said...

Terry and I are going on a Holland America cruise, flying to Australia and sailing to Tasmania and New Zealand. I can hardly wait! We developed a taste for cruises after two Nation Magazine cruises and one Alaska cruise, all of these on Holland America.
This one to Australia is a Scientific American Cruise. I imagine the lectures will be of more interest to Terry than to me, but that's OK. They did add a female touchy-feely lecturer for the ladies, but I can skip that. There is always plenty to do and think about if you are like me. Think of what we will see! We're flying on Hawaiian Air for the long stretch.
Strangely, the fellow passengers we met on the Alaska cruise were the most interesting, and we got a kick out of the corny shipboard entertainment. They were there to have fun, mostly. And having a drink or two in the evening in the topside bar while watching the sunset did not hurt our feelings a bit. I'm 76 and really love my creature comforts. I've always been a bit lazy physically, and now I'm like my old cat, although unlike him I push myself some to stay reasonably fit and active. Hiking is not my first love, but I do it and find it rewarding.

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