March 25, 2018 – en route from DTW to NRT

There is no dignity on a 13 hour flight. This flight is full, as is always the case now that the airlines have gotten so good at matching supply to demand. The seats are engineered to be as small and square and uncomfortable as necessary to squeeze in the maximum amount of paying customers.

I’m on a flight from Detroit to Tokyo’s Narita airport. I started in Columbus; got to the airport at 8:00 Sunday morning, flew at 9:50 and will arrive at Narita on Monday at 4:00pm. I will take a bus that will deliver me to my hotel but it takes 2 hours more with several stops. I will check in, take a quick shower, and then eat downstairs in the hotel restaurant. Then bed and if experience is a measure, I will sleep mostly through the first night. It’s the next 5 or 6 nights that I will be up at 2:00am and then get devastatingly sleepy around 2pm the next day. This trip is 3 weeks so I will normalize by the end of the first week.

All around me on the plane, people are trying to sleep, watching movies, reading or playing on their laptops. It’s a surreal scene—with the lights dimmed and litter and blankets and pillows strewn about. The sleepers are fidgeting, turning this way and that, trying to find some relief from the paralyzing positions we are locked in to. I have an aisle seat—which is my preference. But it means that every time I infringe even slightly on the aisle space, I run the risk of a body part being shaved off when the food cart comes whizzing past. The man next to me is snoring, head back, mouth open with his eye covers on and ear buds in. Inside him, at the window seat, a business woman is trying to work on her laptop but the wi-fi comes and goes so she is losing the battle it seems. It’s a glimpse of humans at our most vulnerable and lugubrious.

I tried to work for a while, but the man sitting in front me immediately put his seat in full recline. Which means my tray is shoved right up against my chest and so in order to type I have to push my arms back in a clownish pose, just so my fingers can hit the keys.

In the old days, I nearly always got upgraded to business class. But now Delta’s loyalty program means I almost never get upgraded on these long flights. I do occasionally on the domestic flights. Also, it used to cost 140,000 miles for a business class international ticket to Europe or Africa; now it’s 380,000 or some such crazy thing.

‘Delta, We’re Not Happy til You’re Not Happy’!!!!

A few years ago I quit eating airline food for good. I have virtually no odd peculiarities when it comes to food. I will eat basically anything from anywhere. But for some reason, I find now that airline food makes me sick. Even the smell of it disgusts me and makes my stomach churn. It’s odd because I don’t have any idea what could be causing it. Maybe its just in my head, but every time I try a meal, I feel terrible afterwards. So now I try to grab something from one of the deli’s and I usually get a few Kind bars and some fruit or almonds.

If I am going on vacation or a personal trip I might have a drink or two, but on these long business trips I stick to water. I need to minimize the damage to my body so the recovery time when I land is manageable.

My fingers have gone numb from typing with by arms pushed back as far as possible like I am trying to imitate a bird. So time to quit.

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