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Micael Jesso's Fabulous, Derailed

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“This is your captain speaking. Sit back & enjoy your flight.”

It’s a statement we’ve all heard, but actually enjoying a flight is becoming increasingly more difficult…especially if you’re taller than 5’2”.

Gone are the days of actual civilized air travel, where a proper flight attendant served coffee from fine china and wore Pucci suits; where travelers dressed for the occasion and couldn’t wait to get on board, relax in their comfortable, reclined chairs without bothering anyone, and arrive at their destination refreshed.

Somewhere along the way the airlines have had a really rough landing, and it’s been elbows in the ribs, heads in our laps, attendants serving Sanka and lunchboxes all while being bumped in the head with the debit machine when you try to pay for it all. The skies just aren’t that friendly anymore.

Air Canada, or as most Canadians like to call the heavily subsidized airline, Air Chaos, has announced that they are adding more seats to every aircraft, with 22 extra seats on its discount carrier, Rouge, and up to 109 extra seats on its long-haul Boeing 777. Where exactly are they going to fit an extra 109 people? Are they going to hang them from the ceiling, or are they going to just fill the aisles and have us climb in like kids getting into the back seat of a car? Perhaps one lucky passenger will get to sit in the bathroom the whole time, although it would be kind of gross trying to eat your sesame snacks or getting up repeatedly to allow someone else to…ah…use your seat.

So just how are they going to do this? Smaller seats, to begin with. Smaller frames, smaller cushions, smaller everything. Basically, if you were used to traveling in a Civic, you will now be traveling in a Miata. The other space-gaining technique used will be moving everyone closer together on what the airlines call a 30 inch pitch. That’s 30 inches from the front legs of the chair in front of you to the front legs of the chair you’re sitting in. That gives you roughly 23 inches from the back of the chair in front of you to the back of the chair you’re resting on. Now I’ll tell you I haven’t always been the happiest camper with 30 inch legs, but I am now. I can’t even imagine taking a long haul trip to Australia or Japan with an extra 109 people on board. I’ll bet they didn’t add any extra bathrooms.

It’s not just Air Canada that’s made this decision; Westjet has also jumped on board, so to speak. Westjet, who regularly reports record earnings, has also decided to add an additional eight seats to every plane. But they are doing something a little different. Everyone who has ever flown Westjet has enjoyed a 34 inch pitch seat. What they’ve done is push all the regular seats closer together to a 31 inch pitch and created three rows of an economy plus section with a 36 inch pitch, an extra checked bag and neatly placed doily on your seat. At the time of writing this, Westjet stated it was $45 extra for the economy plus seat; now this got the wheels in my head turning and I thought why not just leave the seats the way they were and charge everyone an extra $45 for their ticket? Honestly, for the sake of $45, Westjet has just changed its passengers from guests to cattle. Why is Westjet messing with us? They make money...I don’t get it.

So with all these extra people up in your business, I’ve come up with a handy list of tips to actually try and make air travel somewhat pleasant again.

• Do yoga. It will help you contort yourself into the tiny seat and perhaps allow you to bend your legs in different positions, allowing you to properly get comfortable.

• Your neighbour’s rib cage is not an armrest.

• Keep your shoes on. You may not smell them because you adjusted that air nozzle to blow any stink away from your nose, but it’s not doing anything for the rest of us.

• Unless you’re taking a nap, please keep your chair in the upright position. Also, check with your neighbour behind you; they could be juggling a cup of Sanka and have their laptop open.

• Keep your earbuds at a neighbourly volume. I understand you’re trying to drown out the sound of the engine and that baby two rows up, but you’re adding to the frustration.

• Flatulence – See step 3.

• Try and keep your legs and your bags under the chair in front of you. Spreading your legs and your belongings into your neighbour’s real estate is definitely a fowl.

• For the love of God, please, please please take a shower before a flight. A common complaint throughout airports in the Wood Buffalo region from fellow passengers and airline staff are people who just left work and boarded an aircraft. Everyone understands you rushed out of camp, everything is dirty, you haven’t seen your wife or kids for two weeks, but why should anyone have to suffer while crammed into a small metal tube with you for four or five hours? Leave some time to get cleaned up, pack a return change of clothes and shoes. It’s something so simple and can make the world of difference on your way home.

• Please be kind to one another and have patience, everybody is trying to get somewhere under different circumstances and different levels of understanding.

• Pee before you get on the plane!

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