Jun 10, 2013

I flew to New York on a settee

I Tweeted a lot about my flights home from New York last week (which included delays due to weather, airplane maintenance issues and Air Force One) but the irony is that for me personally, the flight TO New York was actually much more interesting.

I just turned 40, and in all my years of flying -- and I've flown a lot -- this particular situation has never, ever happened to me.

When I boarded my flight from Charlotte to LaGuardia, I made it back to my row, and I found my two seatmates were already there.

They moved out into the aisle so I could stow my backpack in the overhead bin and scoot into my window seat. As I did so, I noticed that there was no resistance ... I slid in like buttah. Didn't really give a lot of thought as to why, at the time.

I sat down and buckled my seatbelt, and I realized that the armrest wasn't down between me and my seat partner. I figured that he wanted to wait until closer to takeoff, so I didn't mention it.

The flight attendants welcomed us over the intercom, and they went through their standard safety spiel. Then the pilot spoke to us ... still, the armrest remained raised.

My Personal-space Radar was on high alert. HIGH. ALERT.

We pushed back from the gate and taxiied over to the runway. I surreptitiously leaned around to see if the other armrest -- the one between the guy beside me and the woman on his other side -- was down, and it wasn't.

We came to a rolling stop on the runway. I asked my seatmate if he was traveling to New York alone or with a companion, and he said, "By myself." This confirmed my assumption that he was not traveling with the woman -- at least 40 years his senior -- who was sitting in the aisle seat. She was a stranger to him, too.

The engines revved up.

We took off at breakneck speed and entered the blue sky, ARMRESTS UP.

I didn't want to be the one who upset the apple cart, but PERSONAL SPACE. I mean, I've never. You're only three inches away from these people to begin with, so to not even have that little metal separator just seemed ... too much.

And yet, I wasn't just going to yank it down.

Once we could again hear over the sound of the engines, I asked politely, "Would you prefer for me to put the armrest down?"

He answered, "No, I'm fine with it. Doesn't bother me."

And that, Internet, is how I am positive that three complete strangers flew to New York City on an aeroplane for the first and possibly the last time in the history of history with absolutely no armrests down between them.

Row 20 basically became a settee for a 40-year-old white woman, a 20-something Asian man and a 60-something black woman.


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