So I’m 6’3″ Tall and I Love to Fly…

…However, I don’t fly very comfortably. I should also mention that legroom isn’t so much the issue as the shoulder room. Or the lack thereof. This hadn’t been a major issue until about 3 years ago when I flew to Las Vegas for work to attend ConExpo/ConAgg. Really it’s my own fault for letting someone else book my tickets. I always try for a window seat so I’m able to lean against the window and give the poor soul in the middle seat some room. On this fateful trip I was relegated to the middle seat from Philadelphia to Las Vegas. AND BACK! If I were to guess, sardines packed in a can would have been more comfortable than I was.

Fast forward my most recent trip to Florida. Flying Delta from Bangor to Tampa, the connections aren’t bad, usually BGR>LGA>ATL>TPA or direct from LGA >TPA. On the trip down I went BGR>LGA>ATL>TPA and returned TPA>LGA>BGR. By now I’m OK with the ERJs/CRJs from Bangor to LaGuardia. The flight is under an hour and really, it isn’t that bad. As a plane aficionado, I’ve got a spot in my heart for the MD-80 family of jets. They’re work horses, proven track record and the most uncomfortable tubes you can ever think of flying in.

The Flight Down

My seats were on the right side of the aircraft thinking there would be a little more room in the 3-2 configuration. And when I say a little more room, I mean less room. Fortunately I had the window and the poor soul next to me could have easily fit himself and possibly his identical twin in there, if he had an identical twin that is. The seats seem more narrow than others. Clearly this could be an optical illusion, but if I were blindfolded and told to sit down, I would swear I was in seat at Fenway Park. This time when I traveled to Florida I was sporting a new lens (Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II) to use at the Sun n Fun Fly In as well as a new backpack to lug all of my gear. Well, most of my gear. The Think Tank Photo Airport Commuter backpack was designed for air travel. It fits a TON of gear in it(I’ll save that for another post) and fit perfectly under the seat in front of me. The problem is the seat pitch on the MD-80. Again, or the lack there of. I wasn’t able to put the tray table down without the support arms hitting my knees about an inch from being full opened. Rather than try to finagle something I took my Biscoff cookies and dealt with it.

I must have been half asleep when came up with a brilliant plan when booking to upgrade to Delta’s Economy Comfort from Atlanta down into Tampa. You know, because an hour flight is unbearable compared to the 2+ hours I just spent like a sardine in a can on the MD-80. I would have thought I was in First Class with that added inch or 2 of legroom. You could have driven a dump truck between the seat in front of me and my feet. A Tonka dump truck, but still, a dump truck. I settled in and my mind was made up, from that point on, I’m NEVER flying Delta again without upgrading to Economy Comfort.

The Contrails Home

Fast forward 2 weeks. Delta emails to remind me that I have to return to reality and need to check in. So I go online to check in. Back when I was  half asleep and booked, I didn’t opt for the upgrade to Economy Comfort, I guess my plan was to sulk in the back with the rest of the sardines because I was heading back to a 50 degree colder Maine. Again, I can’t emphasize enough, don’t book airline tickets when you’re half asleep. You’ll end up in a Turkish Bath House with Charlie Sheen.

Upon arriving at Tampa International, I check my bag and head over to the gate. For some reason I checked the app on the way across in the iconic trams that go from the air sides to the main terminal. BOOM! The Economy Comfort bulkhead row is WIDE OPEN! As I get to the gate area I ask the agent if I can upgrade, the next thing I know I’m not dreading the flight back to the frozen tundra otherwise known as Maine as I’m seated with my seat belt fastened.

As people pass by I still don’t have anyone sitting next to me, or the aisle seat for that matter. Looking back, the plane is getting pretty full, yet nobody has taken either of the 2 seats next to me. I’m thinking something has to give here, surely some other tall guy will sit down. About a minute before the door is set to close a woman comes in and take the aisle seat. I get the look of “surely someone will be sitting between us” and I’m guessing my facial expressions agreed with her. Not long after the flight attended comes on and says the door is closed, hang up your phone and pay attention to my instructions.

Surely the flying sardine can gods can’t be on my side. For the next 2 1/2 hours I was flying with more legroom than I knew what to do with. Two of the Tonka dump trucks in Atlanta could have driven side by side in front of me. It was great. For about 3 seconds until I went to put the arm rest up that I wouldn’t have to fight over with the poor soul in the middle seat. BALLS! The last time I flew in a bulkhead row was on a 727 when I was 9. Completely forgetting I couldn’t lift it up, I’ve got all the legroom I could ask for, except I’m sitting in a seat that I’m pretty sure they dug out of the right field box seats at Fenway Park. After a while I give resign myself to the fact I’m being greedy with the legroom and the flying sardine can gods were making me pay with negative hip space.

The flight went by just like that thanks to a hefty tailwind, putting us in New York almost 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I didn’t want to leave the friendly confines of Economy Comfort. But I had to. The next leg to Bangor wasn’t going to depart for 3 hours so I killed time in the Delta Sky Club. It was here that I swore(not out loud) that I wouldn’t fly without being in Economy Comfort again. I just couldn’t do it. People next to me love seeing me folded up like a towel to fit in the seat, I’m sure it is carnival sideshow worthy. However, the extra money is well spent on my longer than usual legs.

Feeling pretty relaxed having spent 3 hours in the Sky Club I make my way to the gate to board. As is always the case in NY, flights to Bangor are always boarded on the tarmac via bus. We make our way up the stairs of the plane and in a moment of pure horror, I look at the app on my phone to see what seat I’m in and realize the hell I’m about to endure. I’ve booked the single seat on the left of the ERJ-135. I can’t emphasize enough, don’t book tickets when you’re half asleep. The Turkish Bath House thing and the single seat on ERJ-135. Neither one has a good ending.


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