humour, Travel

The Recliner

Those who fly frequently will agree that the amount of space on offer is much less than in an ST Bus. That is, on most domestic flights.

Yes, the ST buses vibrate and they do travel on sturdy roads and they do make a lot of cacophony. But if you feel like stretching your legs, you can do so in the space available below the seat in front, if it is not occupied by assorted luggage of fellow travellers. And small mercies, the seats of a ST bus don’t recline.

Which is not the case in a domestic flight. Recently a video is doing the rounds of the social media in which a woman tries to recline her seat repeatedly while the man sitting behind her, bangs and pushes her seat as he doesn’t want to be inconvenienced. This video is from one of the western countries but a similar story repeats in our country skies too.

The usual story on a domestic flight goes something like this…

After what seems like an eternity of waiting in the departure area, finally the announcement everyone has been waiting for, is made. Unfortunately the departure gate has changed at the nth hour and everyone has to hurry across to the new one.

The flight duration itself is only 55 minutes but I have already spent more than 2 hours at the airport terminal. I am not even counting the 2 hours I spent in a taxi while reaching the airport.

A further few minutes are spent waiting in a queue to get the ticket scanned then I am on my way. As I reach the boarding bus, it gets full and speeds away. Fortunately another bus is just behind and I get onto it.

Like most other travellers, I don’t rush to the seats but stand near the bus door. As others have the same idea, soon the door gets blocked and someone from the airlines has to show the space available inside to the people who are already inside, by wild gesticulations of his hands and vocal cords. A few passengers (not me) finally get the message and reluctantly occupy the vacant seats thus allowing others to board the bus.

Some old ladies give me obnoxious looks, as if they have seen a particularly ugly specimen. Not to be outdone, I return an obnoxious look of my own. Then the airport tarmac darshan commences, with the bus meandering across the tarmac in search of the aircraft.

In a few minutes I am out on the Tarmac, as soon as the bus comes to a halt and the doors slide open. Happy to be the first in line, I rush with my laptop bag towards the front of the aircraft but the checker takes one look at my ticket and directs me towards the rear. Muttering expletives under my breath, I run across but find myself in yet another queue.

Finally I am inside but the stewardess ignores me but has a bright smile for the old gentleman following me and even wishes him! I glance at him over my shoulder; he seems extra jolly. I scowl at him and move on.

It takes an eternity to reach my row, mainly due to various passengers trying to fit their assorted luggage In the bins above.

As always my luck, or the lack of it, takes me to a middle seat. I think this is the worst seat to get via reservation, unless someone interesting occupies the neighbouring seats. However Murphy plays his part and I sit between two especially healthy specimen.

Due to the ample leg space, the person occupying the aisle seat has to get up and stand in the aisle while I try to find room for my laptop in the bin above. I push and shove the other luggage but can’t seem to fit my humble laptop bag there. Finally I dump it below the seat ahead and plonk myself in the middle seat. As I try to make myself comfortable, I find that there is no armrest for me as the two gentlemen own that space.

As I sit waiting for the aircraft to take off, the aircraft sits on the tarmac waiting for the green signal from the air traffic control. Finally it does…

The congested leg space is made more constricted by my neighbours but I decide to make myself comfortable by reclining my seat once the aircraft completes its ascent. Pressing the knob, I jerk back my seat.

“Bloody fool!”, I hear someone cursing from behind me. Ignore, man…ignore…and I pretend to sleep.

The curses go on for some more time and then fall silent. They always do. I slip into deep sleep.

Suddenly I feel huge pressure on my knees and wake up with a start. I find that the man in front of me has reclined his seat. A few expletives escape my mouth and spread themselves like mist in the air. But the totally shameless man in front of me is unaffected. He just covers his eyes and starts snoring…I let off steam for sometime and then I resign myself to my fate.

Friends! Isn’t this story quite familiar?

Though some of the passengers are obnoxious, this spatial challenge inside an aircraft is mainly profit driven. Previously the space between two consecutive rows was 34-35 inches which has now been reduced to 30-31 inches and in some cases, to a flimsy 28 inches.

The recliner angle, which had been designed considering the previous distance between the rows, hasn’t changed after the distance was reduced.

The precise reason for the decreasing space inside a huge aircraft. The precise reason why you, me and them fight.

Yatindra Tawde

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