¶ This blog started in 2015-2016 with two years of devotionals: “Midweek Meditations: Family and Friends.” ¶ It continued throughout 2017 with short poems: “Midweek Moments: Creator and Creation.” ¶ Now in 2018 comes a lighthearted travelogue: “Midweek Milestones: 6½ Times Around the World.” ¶ For three decades we lived in a faraway place. Our travels, during those years and since, have brought us to a strangely uneven global total. Each blog posted during 2018 will actually be an excerpt from a paperback soon to be published — with cartoons, plus fuller accounts of our worldwide adventures (and misadventures!).
“FLY THE FRIENDLY SKIES” (I)
A major international airline used to feature this beguiling slogan: “Fly the friendly skies of ________!”
Skies did used to seem friendly. At least this was our usual experience of air travel back during the 1960s and ‘70s.
For one thing, planes weren’t so crowded several years ago. Many times you could expect to spread out into vacant seats. On a long overnight flight, three of four empty seats across meant you could really stretch out and get some sleep.
For another thing, everybody on a commercial airliner used to look – and act – fairly nice. There were no sloppy or grungy or blatantly impolite passengers. Flying used to be a rather elite way to travel; not just anybody would turn up on an airplane. You could generally expect good manners.
Meals aloft used to be wonderful. Even in economy class (the only way we’ve ever had the money to fly), we would sometimes be served with real china and silver and snowy cloth napkins. And the food! Often it seemed fancier and more expensive than anything we would have ever dared to order in a restaurant.
Those days are mostly gone forever. International flights still offer the free food that has disappeared from domestic flights. But generally speaking, the glory has departed from air travel.
Yet I must confess that some things have gotten better with the passing years. For example: When I first started flying in the late 1950s, any passenger was allowed to smoke – any seat, anytime except during takeoff or landing. Before business trips, I used to pray – literally! – that I would happen to draw a nonsmoker sitting beside me.
When separate nonsmoking sections became the rule, one Asian airline divided the whole aircraft front to back: Smokers on the left, nonsmokers on the right. Somehow it never seemed to occur to them that cigarette smoke could waft across the aisle.
We’ve had some other less-than-friendly experiences with that same Asian airline. Once we had purchased our tickets well in advance, but before we flew, the national currency had been devalued. Would they honor our reconfirmed tickets? No, indeed . . . not until we paid them about four times extra.
I don’t want to be too hard on just that one particular Asian airline. Several others — in the Third World and elsewhere — have also given us less-than-friendly experiences in flying. Find out about some of these in next week’s blog post.
Copyright © 2017 by Perry Thomas