Bad manners at 36,000 feet
Forgive me for a moment as I write about something particularly close to my world.
I’m just back from a two and a half week research project in the Nevada desert, finishing up following the route my greatgreat-grandfather, William Castle Dodge, took to the 1849 gold rush. It’s a route clearly left in his diary, a remarkable trip made by a 22-year-old.
But while I’ll be writing about that trip in detail in a book, this column’s about the necessary evil it took to reach the desert and return, along with some work-related side travel; in all, 11 flights, trips ranging from late in the evening to the very early morning.
And I have some suggestions.
Say you are on an early, early flight to any Atlantic city from Toronto; flying east, you’ve missed a late-night connection, and have been stuffed in an airport hotel at half-past midnight. Don’t worry, the airline says: you’ll be on the next available plane. But that means a 5 a.m. wake-up call, and you don’t sleep well anyway. You make your way through a sleepless fog to the plane, confident that you can catch a nap.
But no. On every single plane that flies, you will be within three rows of two wide-awake people who know each other — or, worse, don’t know each other.
They’ll start a spirited conversation as soon as their seatbelts are on, and as the flight crew dims the lights and the jets roar, they’ll up the volume so they