We Should Be Grateful We’re Flying…But Still…

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Hello again from Hertfordshire (just north of London), England. We left Dad’s in Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon…

[Dad’s back porch. Pennsylvania. Photo by me, 2017.]

…and headed to Newark Airport. It’s easiest to land there and drive to his place, and to our place in the Catskills. Going to JFK from that direction requires driving across New York City to reach it in Queens, which is an additional hassle distance-wise and traffic-wise. To be honest, if you ever visit NYC (especially Manhattan tourist areas), the best place to land is actually Newark Airport, New Jersey: it is just across the river from Manhattan.

Newark is not JFK, however. The international terminal lacks to some extent the amenities you find at JFK after Security. There are fewer restaurants (actually, there are just two) and places to shop and even sit. That said, there’s more now than there was; it’s actually better since some refurbishment in the last few years.

[Terminal B, Newark Airport. Photo by me, 2017.]

Unfortunately, the BA flight that also awaited us was on my old nemesis: the Boeing 777. I’ve read pilots love it. But as a flying customer, I think the plane stinks – and I have felt that way since I first flew on one nearly 20 years ago.

And, now, it seems, it is stinking literally. As on our outbound leg last weekend, at least a couple of passengers became vomiting ill mid-flight. The likely reason: after dinner, once again the cabin became too warm and too stuffy. And once again – although not right next to us this time – we saw a flight attendant carrying oxygen.

I haven’t encountered people sick on planes like that in longer than I can recall. British Airways must be up to something – likely trying to save fuel, and therefore money per flight. Because once is a mistake/ problem; but having that same experience twice within a bit more that a week is a disturbing trend.

Flying we all put up with lots (including now on BA virtually no breakfast in economy class), but being sickened is a step too far. A flight to New York isn’t cheap. If they don’t get the cabin air routinely comfortable again on our Christmas flights, I’m going to start looking for another airline in 2018.

[In-Flight on British Airways. Photo by me, 2017.]

And I don’t want to fly another airline; we’ve used BA for nearly 20 years. I can’t see myself on Virgin or an American carrier. In fact, after the last time I flew American Airlines across the Atlantic, I vowed I would never again. And that AA experience didn’t even include people falling sick. Then again, American Airlines is in code share alliance now with BA, so will AA be any better in terms now of cabin comfort than BA?

U.S. airlines from the 1950s to the 1970s set the standard in international flight. But by the 1990s they had sat on their laurels for so long and grown complacent (as did lots of other U.S. companies of that era, the car companies in particular), foreign rivals began to catch up and pass them. Nowadays no U.S. airline evokes any sense of “world-leading” or “cool” in flying internationally.

Worryingly, British Airways is increasingly showing its age now, too, and at times is starting to remind me of those American carriers of the 1990s. It had better raise its game…and quickly. The world is full of former “glamour” brands like Pan Am and TWA that are now history.

As the cabin had been warm-ish from take-off, and remembering the week before and sensing what was coming (and I was unfortunately proven right), I tried to relax. Off came my light jacket and fleece. (It was frigid on Saturday morning in Pennsylvania/ New Jersey.) Obviously, though, you can only do so much to make yourself comfortable in heat when no swimming pool is available.

[In-Flight on British Airways. Photo by me, 2017.]

And British Airways will be told all of that in the email customer survey’s “additional comments” section.

True, the cabin might not have been perfectly comfortable. However, regardless we do have it so much easier in terms of travel than those of centuries’ past, of course. It is worth at times remembering that.

As you see, just above and below as part of seat snaps, I included my Fenimore “The Last of the Mohicans” Cooper belated birthday gift biography book from Dad. Cooper (and everyone else in his time) never, uh, traveled across the Atlantic this way in the early to middle 1800s…

[In-Flight on British Airways. Photo by me, 2017.]

I was doing my BA “Well Being” in-flight shoulder rolls – with drink – at 35,000 or so feet and going about 600MPH over Maine an hour or so after takeoff, when that fact hit me.

And with that I leave you for now. I’m headed back to “1797” for the day – while also trying to fend off jet lag. Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

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