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Boston Blues

I once crossed the Atlantic trying to sleep on a giant packing crate containing a jet engine being carried in the belly of a Hercules transport plane returning from Europe to Canada. Believe it or not, that was not my worst transit of the Atlantic. That honour has to go to a commercial flight from Boston to Glasgow. I was reminded of it a couple of days ago when I saw that one of the airlines is getting rid of reclining seats on its planes. Big deal, said many in the comments section of the website that I found the story on. What's the big deal about two inches of headroom, asked the posters to the website. If they had been on that accursed Boston-Glasgow flight they would know that some of the seats go back more than two inches. When the fellah in the row in front of me put his seat back, two inches was the distance it stopped from my forehead. OK, maybe it was four inches - but not much more than that. The flight was the stuff of nightmares. The plane had 20% more seats squeezed into it than was wise. Legroom was minimal and when the seats were reclined, headroom was completely inadequate. The air recirculation system was not up to processing all the carbon dioxide the cramped passengers were breathing out. The body heat they were generating pushed the temperature up to hot-house proportions. Then someone had the bright idea of supplying the passengers with limitless free alcohol. Normally, I would have thought this was welcome development. But with sweltering temperatures, inadequate oxygen, and seats reclined into people's faces, well, tempers were easily frayed. The men drank too much and their wives loudly nagged them for drinking too much. My idea of Hell would be that flight going on in perpetuity - a sort of airborne Flying Dutchman. Give me sprawling out on a giant packing in the belly of a piston-engined plane shuddering its way across the Atlantic any day.

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