The Worst Scenario For the Window Seater? A Trip Report
P rior to any flight on an airplane which I am assigned to a window seat, I will ensure that I use the facilities at the airport as close to departure time as possible — primarily for the reasons of wanting to cause only minimal disruption at best to the passengers seated in the middle seat and aisle seat in the row in which I will be sitting in case I need to use the lavatory during the flight.
During a typical long-haul flight, the passengers seated next to me typically get up at least once — either to use the lavatory or simply to stretch their legs; and I usually get up when they do to keep that disruption to them at a minimum — but on this particular flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam, neither of the younger or older male passengers left his seat…
The Worst Scenario For the Window Seater? A Trip Report
…at all — not once for the duration the flight, which was approximately eight hours and 20 minutes. Not to use the lavatory. Not to stretch their legs.
This has never happened to me before. Whenever possible, I try to get up when at least one of the other passengers leaves his or her seat so as to cause only a minimal disruption in their flight experiences at best.
The two passengers seated in my row — who were not traveling together, as far as I could tell — were not asleep the entire time, either. After eating their meals and drinking their beverages, one of them was watching movies via the in-flight entertainment system; while the other was working on his laptop computer.
They became “camels” — a term I coined for them on the spot during that flight due to their endurance of never needing to use the lavatory from departure gate to arrival gate.
For the first time in my years of travel, I did not leave my seat once during a long-haul flight. Fortunately, I did not have an intense urge to use the lavatory for some reason — I guess I automatically became a “camel” as well during this flight — but I would have liked to have stretched my legs and grazed at whatever snacks were being offered in the rear galley of the Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
While I prefer window seats and am in no way claustrophobic, I did not like the idea of not getting up at all to stretch my legs.
Trip Report: Atlanta to Amsterdam
The flight was operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines; and it was the first of two segments on my way to Helsinki.
Gate F3 — from which the airplane was to depart to Amsterdam — will eventually be able to accommodate Airbus A380 airplanes in the future.
“Did I just spot an ‘emotional support animal’ at the gate?” Thankfully, the public washrooms were immediately adjacent to the gate from which I was to depart for Europe.
I boarded the aircraft to take my seat, where there is no window. Normally, I would be disappointed; but because much of the flight was overnight and the view would have been obscured by the wing of the aircraft anyway, I took solace in knowing that propping a pillow against a relatively flat wall would be more conducive to sleeping during the flight.
I was seated in the economy class cabin, which was ten seats and two narrow aisles abreast; and the seats were rather thin in terms of padding. The premium economy cabin was three rows forward as indicated by the conspicuous “barrier” of sorts.
Each seat had access to a power outlet; but there was also a USB port from which portable electronic devices can be charged.
The headrest was adjustable both vertically and with bendable “wing flaps” on each side. The seat was more comfortable than it appeared; but it was definitely firm.
Leg room was not all that bad for me.
Passengers board the aircraft, on which there seems to be plenty of ample overhead bin storage.
The tray table folds out either part of the way for a drink and a snack…
…or all of the way for a full meal.
The seat would have been more comfortable if there was an air vent above the seat with which the passenger can control the flow of the air, as the air aboard the airplane was hot and stale. All airplanes should be required to have air vents, in my opinion — especially in cases of the obvious redolence of the flatulence of an unknown source.
Many options are included in the expansive in-flight entertainment system — including but not limited to movies, television shows, music and games. You can even chat with anyone aboard the airplane — if they avail themselves to the feature, of course.
My favorite feature of the in-flight entertainment is the progress of the flight called My Flight, which can be tracked numerous ways. Even the units of measurement can be set to imperial or metric.
The first round of service was a packet of smoked almonds and a beverage of choice.
Later came the main meal. The choice was pasta or chicken.
Unfortunately, I chose the chicken — and it was easily the worst meal I have ever been served aboard an airplane operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The chicken was rubbery and spongy; and it was swimming in a fatty gravy which was a gloppy mess. I did not particularly care for raisins — one actually had a pit in it — in my rice, which also contained peas and carrots and was way too dry and fragrant. The salad of assorted beans in a watery vinaigrette was bland and mealy. The box contained Keebler Club crackers — which are not my favorite — Tillamook medium cheddar cheese, and butter. The dessert was some sort of mediocre carrot crumb cake with golden raisins embedded in it.
The fresh warm roll — served separately by members of the flight crew — was the star of this meal. It was crusty on the outside while soft but nice and chewy on the inside. The cola I ordered fizzed down to less than half the volume of the small cup.
I should have ordered the pasta — even if it had cheese in it — although I could not see what it looked like because no one else around me ordered it. Based on my past experience as an economy class passenger aboard an airplane operated by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, I was looking forward to the meal service and was significantly disappointed.
Breakfast was served approximately 90 minutes prior to landing in Amsterdam. Hot towels were given to each passenger prior to breakfast.
There was no choice for breakfast. I was able to successfully extract the potatoes — which were actually quite tasty and perfectly cooked — from the quagmire of cheese and egg, which I did not eat. I also did not eat the sausage, which did not look appetizing to me, to say the least. Aside from the occasional bacon, I do not consume pork products; and I do not like most cheeses. The fruit salad of watermelon, pineapple, honeydew and cantaloupe was decent but tasted a little “tired”; and the yogurt — I think it was supposed to be strawberry flavored — was somewhat bland.
Once again, the fresh warm roll — which came with packets of both mixed fruit jelly and butter — was the star of the meal.
We finally landed at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam after noon on a cold and grey overcast day.
I usually do politely ask my seat mates if they can let me get out — especially timing myself to do so when at least one of them gets up first so as to keep the disruption to them minimal — but for some reason during this particular flight, I did not want to disturb them. Maybe because it seemed like too much trouble. Maybe because they were quiet and were absolutely no problem at all. Maybe because I either had plenty of things to occupy me or because I slept for part of the flight. Maybe because there was no urgency on my part to get up other than wanting to stretch.
In any case, sitting for hours on end is not healthy. Airlines encourage that you get up and stretch and remain hydrated throughout the flight.
“More than 300 million people travel on long-distance flights (generally more than four hours) each year. Blood clots, also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can be a serious risk for some long-distance travelers. Most information about blood clots and long-distance travel comes from information that has been gathered about air travel. However, anyone traveling more than four hours, whether by air, car, bus, or train, can be at risk for blood clots.”
Fortunately, nothing averse happened to me pertaining to my health — as far as I know, anyway — and I know I walked at least 100 kilometers during my trip to Europe…
…but I do not ever intend to remain in my assigned seat for the entire duration of any long-haul flight again.
The camel in the photograph at the top of this article was part of my desert safari experience in Egypt. All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.