"If there is a doctor onboard, please identify yourself to a flight attendant"
Ah, The joys of air travel in economy. I promise I'm not going to make this a negative blog, just to get laughs, (and not just because there is no laughing permitted in economy) but when it comes to flying these days, there is not a lot of positive.
One positive is we are directed to the TSA precheck line at the airport (despite the fact that we have not yet signed up for pre check) but it's a busy Friday night and they are trying to move things along. It's like hitting the TSA jackpot; Congratulations! You've been selected for pre check - you get to preserve your dignity and you can keep your belt, coat, underpants and any metal replacement parts on! As an added bonus you don't have to unpack your private toiletries, (this is my denture cream, preparation H...) or (new this year!) fire up all your electronics. And special tonight- you can even keep your shoes on!
Our luck continues, here in the terminal building, it's crowded but we find a couple of those little shoe shine chairs with foot rests to sit in when most of the other flights board leaving just Turkish Air and Emirates to leave after 11 PM. I think it's a bad idea, being comfortable in the terminal so close to a flight in economy; better to have the memory of comfort be a distant thing before boarding.
But given we've booked economy tickets, our luck cannot hold out. We've just boarded, the Turkish airlines airbus is turquoise colorful. The very first sight we see is a chef in a torque - we know immediately that he has nothing whatsoever to do with anything that will be served in our cabin! We arrive at 17a and b; the space between rows gets stunningly smaller every time we fly, but at least we've got two seats together, window and aisle with no one next to us. Of course the people in front of us can recline into our laps so low we could do dental work on them. Watching my 6 for 6 inch husband attempt to arrange himself in this space is a little heartbreaking and I vow to pay for business class for the next flight longer than 6 hours, even though it kills me to spend thousands for a few inches of recline and leg room. (Having just completed the flight, Jeff admits it's never as bad as it first seems, call it Stockholm syndrome)
In addition to trying to stow our carry on gear and arrange our travel comfort items, we've got to contend with the rubble of amenities meant to appease any seat discomfort; look there's a pillow! a blanket! (all plastic wrapped and hopefully sanitized) a pair of cozy slippers! a cute bag with lip balm! toothpaste! ear plugs! eye shades!
Is there a soul back here in steerage who wouldn't trade it all for a few more inches? "Alex, I'll take 6 more inches of leg room for a toothbrushe and lip balm please"
We settle in and finally take off just about on time. We've got a tiight connection when we get to Istanbul - 1 hour and 45 minutes to make the last flight out to Budapest, so when I hear the announcement for a doctor, I can't help but panic. Of course, I hope the afflicted person is ok, but as I watch the two doctors who volunteered (a tall young African American man and a short middle age white man) consult in the aisle about whose specialty best matches the offending body part of the affected person, I can't help but worry our travel plans may be dashed! I see them hustle up to business class (what does it say about our own economy that the doctors are all sitting in economy? Remember when doctors were the rich guys?) and I worry that any moment the captain will come on explaining that we must return to Boston because someone is ill. I begin to dread each "bong" worried it will bring the dreaded announcement. Luckily, after an hour or so the announcement doesn't come. And I stop panicking every time I hear a bong ( and what is with those bongs? What do they mean, why must they go off randomly every 7 or 12 minutes startling everyone out of a sound sleep? No one knows what they mean or why they happen, but we all ignore them like a car alarm in a parking lot)
But despite sitting on tenterhooks, no announcement comes. I'm Thankful that the podiatrist or immunologist, or pathologist, or whatever specialty the vacationing doctors have they was able to distinguish between a panic attack and a hear attack, or a leg cramp and a blood clot and not only is everything all right with the patient, but we will make our connection!
And look! The guy in the torque is coming down the aisle, asking "pasta or fish"?
Maybe there is hope for us in economy after all!