Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why You Should Never, Ever Fly To Australia In Coach (Or In Coach On Any 12-16 Hour Flights)

After two tortuous flights in coach seats to Sydney about 1986, I vowed I would never do it again. Either I would find a way to pay for a First or Business Class seat (Business was just then coming into its own) or I would not go.

I never did fly in coach again on 12-16 hour flights to Southeast Asia, to South Africa, to Australia & New Zealand, or to Argentina, and I have never regretted the boatloads of money I spent on upgrades on those many flights.

The horror of the experiences was burned into my mind twenty years ago. But in case I had forgotten how bad it was, this week I was reminded again. A couple who are close friends just returned from a combination business and vacation trip to Australia and New Zealand. When I inquired about their flying experience, which was all in coach, here is what the normally genteel wife reported in her reply email today:

"These f***ing airlines really need to consider just knocking people out after they stow their overhead luggage because someone is going to kill someone else the way they have us all smashed together like sardines. It's really more than a sane person can bear.

"I'm still recovering from the 30 hours we spent waiting, queuing, going thru security, and then loading in no particular order even AFTER they tell you to line up as GROUPS. People do whatever suits them. We're all turning into animals; the airlines are turning us into animals, and if someone doesn't go ballistic soon I'll be shocked.

"The guy behind me on the way home kept gripping the headrest of MY chair and pulling on it- and the b**ch in front of me- a little thing had her chair back as far as it would go. I had to resort to yoga breathing and meditation to keep my hands off their f***ing throats.

"Otherwise it was a nice trip. The Great Barrier reef was the climax. I LOVED it- snorkeling and going on a mini submersible and seeing all the beautiful fish and corals and giant sea turtles and GIANT clams weighing 2000 lbs! And seeing a mother whale and her baby!

"The great game plates at the Red Ochre Grill were unbelievable--and the wines! FANTASTIC WINES!

"A great trip that I had hoped to be the first (meaning there would be a second one), but I don't think I'll ever go again without a stopover of a few days someplace along the way or somehow getting out of coach and into the Business Class or the First Class cabin."

Her remarks just reinforce my commitment to fly exclusively in First or Business when traveling on any airplane for that long.


Blogger flyastrojets said...

I laughed so loud at this! And oh how I do agree about no coach on those long flights!

8/29/2006 9:17 PM  
Blogger William A. Allen III said...

I laughes out loud, too, when I read her email! She is such a genuinely nice person and NOT a very frequent flyer. She loves everybody and is very patient with the trials and tribulations of air travel. All of which made her outrage and anger all the funnier! At the same time I feel her pain, as you dom because we've both been there.

8/29/2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger steve b said...

OK, I completely agree. I stopped flying international in less than business class years ago. BUt one thing I really object to in your friend's comment: her indignation that the person in front of her kept her seat "all the way back" the whole flight. For me and my back it is ALL about angle of recline, and dammit if I have to fly coach the very least I can do is recline the pitiful amount the seat lets me recline. To have someone behind me upset about my use of my seat (and it has happened to me that people have actually threatened to keep kicking the seat unless I moved it upright) is just intolerable. Let THEM buy business class if they have to, but they have NO right to be upset with me for using my seat as it was designed. Let them direct their anger tat the greedy airline, not at my aching back!

9/01/2006 1:24 AM  
Blogger William A. Allen III said...

To Steve B: I agree with you, Steve; it's a flyer's dead cinch right to recline his/her seat to the maximum--which is usually not very much to begin with! But I didn't want to edit my friend's comments. She was sandwiched between a fully reclined seat in front and the headrest-grabber behind her, and she doesn't fly often like we do. I am sure in retrospect she sould agree with you, too, now that she is not "in the moment" of agony on the long flight. And she has already said much the same as my point: next time she'll be in Business or there won't BE a next time.

9/01/2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

I had a similar experience flying from LA to Brisbane on Quantas about 10 years ago. I am pretty short but I felt squashed in the seat - and on the return flight the man in the seat behind me objected if I reclined my seat even a small amount - to the point of jerking on the headrest repeatedly. He b$#^and moaned about his arthritic knees, and how I was damaging them. Finally a middle school age boy sitting next to me turned around and threatened him if he did not stop jerking on my seat! Wow.
When we deplaned in LA - I noticed that he was quite overweight and did indeed walk with difficulty. Being very tired and cranky - I went up to his wife and told her that he was a royal pain (she nodded in agreement)and that being as large as he is, he should fly in business class rather than harrass other passengers who have the misfortune to be seated in front of him.
Should I ever fly that long distance again - I will spring for B Class.

9/22/2006 8:29 AM  

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