Sunday, April 23, 2017

TO ETHIOPIA I GO - PART 4

(scroll down for parts 1-3)

According the information on the flight monitor on the screen on the back of the airplane seat in front of me, the flight time from Seattle to Dubai is about 15 hours – 8200+ miles non-stop. I am pretty sure that this is the longest non-stop flight that I have ever been on. I think New Zealand from Los Angeles was about two hours and at least fifteen hundred miles less than this. That was a trip that Vivian and I made a few times. Whatever the actual duration, it is a long time in an airplane.

I have never been nor do I ever wish to be a travel consultant, and there are many others who have made long haul flights much more than I, but I do have a little advice for any who need to make a long flight. I give this advice because several people, before my trip, commented on this aspect of it with the single syllable of “Ugg!”

Neither is it my preference to make these long flights (or any flights), but I actually do not mind it so much. Here is why: These long trips, in some regards, are the same as the wagon trains of the 1800’s when the settlers made their way out to the western United State. Of necessity, the days and nights and weeks that these people spent on the trail had to become more than simply a mode of transportation to get from one place on the map to another. For the time that they were on the trail, it had to become also a lifestyle and a home. Their address was: Wagon Train, Western United States.

These people had to learn to live in their new neighborhood. This neighborhood consisted of the other wagons who rolled over the ground and then circled around a fire at night. Like any situation in life, there are negative aspects in it, but there are also some things that are pretty good. The people in the wagon in front of you may be a little strange, but those in back of you are wonderful neighbors. Sure, you may lose some of your freedom because you may want to stop in one place for a few days instead of continually pushing on, but on the other hand, you enjoy seeing new things each day and wondering what is over the next hill.

Long-haul flights are something like that. There are definitely disadvantages. Most of the advice given by people is how to minimize those disadvantages. Stretch your legs. Get up and walk around from time to time. Keep yourself hydrated. Try not to become stressed out.

Of course there are negative things about this new neighborhood of your flight. The bathrooms could use an expansion. Personal space almost disappears. If you are looking for solitude, you will probably be disappointed. But there are some other things that are not too bad. No cooking or washing dishes, for instance. No house cleaning. Make a mess and someone else cleans it up. There may be a movie that you kind of wanted to see when it came out, but you did not want to see it bad enough to drop seven dollars on it. Here you get it for free (after you pay your $1200 economy ticket). Many times the view out the window is stupendous.

Can’t sleep well on the plane? I frequently doze off in my recliner when I am at home. The seats on the plane do not approach that of my recliner, but I manage to catch little naps from time to time.  All of these little rests help, and since they are usually short, many times I remember what I was dreaming.

Some of the people in the plane may be less than ideal neighbors. There are sometimes those who face these long flights by making sure that they are good and drunk. Some are loud or rude. Some smell badly (I may have been one of these from time to time). But then there are many others that are nice. They are pleasant. They are excited because they are on holiday or just coming back from holiday and want to talk all about it.

Perhaps sometimes you don’t really want to hear about it, but c’mon, don’t be a bad neighbor!

For these 15 hours, my address is Emirates, flight 320, Seat 32H, I think at the moment somewhere above the Arabian Peninsula.

I am going to make myself at home.


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