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A Big Victory for Less Fat Air Traveler

August 31, 2010

My work requires that I travel frequently. Most of my trips are within driving distance of Knoxville, but sometimes I have to fly.

Those are occasions I dread. Not because I’m afraid of flying–anymore. Now I freak out about flying only if the plane has a propeller, or looks like it had a starring role in an airline commercial from the 1960s.

I dread flying because, no matter what, it’s not going to be a comfortable experience. The airlines have reduced what used to be a luxury experience to something akin to herding cattle. And we look more and more like cattle as we all begin to take up more and more space. Ironically, airlines are trying to get more butts to fit on airplanes while the obesity epidemic is growing.

The discomfort begins the moment I step onto an aircraft. At 6-foot-5, I’m taller than the floor-to-ceiling space of most regional jets serving Knoxville. I usually have to crouch or tilt my head to walk down the aisle. I imagine the other passengers look at me like Andre the Giant coming at them in a holocaust cloak a la The Princess Bride.

I sit, almost always in an aisle seat. And sometimes, if I’m very lucky, I’ll be on an exit row with extra leg room. (I work for a non-profit and premium seating like exit rows is an upcharge.) Then I wait. As other passengers come aboard I’m scoping them out to see who I’ll be crammed into the seat next to. Invariably, it’s a guy who takes up as much space as I do. If he’s a jackass–and he often is–he’ll pull a Komodo Dragon trick and puff himself up as big as possible, which means his shoulders are infringing on my space. So, there I’ll be, leaning into the aisle, getting smacked by errant purses or being brushed back by flight attendants.

Then, the ultimate injustice: buckling my safety belt. I pray while trying to suck in my gut enough to latch the end into the buckle. If that doesn’t work, I have to ask for a seatbelt extender. You know the belt used by flight attendants in the safety demonstration? That’s a seat belt extender. Embarrassed to have to ask for the thing, I latch the belt in place. At least I can breathe…when I’m not being knocked around by other passengers.

So I was delighted this morning to be sitting by myself on both legs of my flight from Knoxville to New Orleans.

The best part, though, was the seat belt. IT FIT!. No sucking it in. No seatbelt extender. In fact, after I buckled it, I could actually pull the end to tighten it–just like in the safety demonstration! It was the best flight ever!

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From → Fatness, Weight Loss

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