Upon arrival at the Dallas airport I politely asked the ticket agent if there was a possibility I might have an aisle seat as I felt it may be more comfortable than a window seat. I really needed the leg room being that I am just a tad over 4 feet tall. “Mam, we unfortunately regret that the flight is full to capacity; there are no aisle seats currently available” she declared in her perfectly natural Australia accent, or it could have been Texan, sometimes I get the two confused. (Were there really that many people traveling to Sydney during their winter season?) “No problem at all, thank ya’ll very much”, is what I said, being a true southern lady. “Where I am supposed to stow my legs for the trip” is what I thought, being a true southern pampered princess.
No longer had I returned to the waiting area than I hear the loud speaker calling my name… Yes! They obviously felt sorry for my predicament and have found a way to accommodate me. I noticed they also asked to see Jonathan, another traveler in my party. He made it to the ticket counter first, with me closely behind him. I heard the lady tell him they would be changing his seating arrangements for the flight to seat D. Hotdog! My heart did a flip… an aisle seat!! Yes! He thanked her when she handed him his new boarding pass.
My turn… “Mrs. Messick, we would like to see your passport please.” Oh NO! My heart did a little flip. “Is there a problem?” I stuttered. “No it’s simply routine procedure”. Routine? they didn’t asked to see Jonathan’s passport. I’m beginning to get suspicious. Had the name Penelope thrown up red flags or did they simply want to see what a Penelope might look like? (I get that a lot) Was I on the terrorist watch list? Did my naivety and ignorance of international travel protocol make me appear to be a threat to the safety of those on board? Okay, calm down, I thought, I was letting my paranoia get the best of me.
After a few tense moments, I heard “No problem, Mam, everything checks out, have a nice flight”. What? No, aisle seat for me? Really? Grrrr. Ah, it’s okay; I can fold my legs under me and not stretch out for 17 HOURS!
I will have to admit I did experience a moment or two of glee when I first boarded the plane. I was thrilled to see the roomy, spacious, comfy recliners on board… then I was escorted through the VIP section, past the first class section, the business section, the frequent flyer section, the blue club, the green club, and the regular everyday folk section into what must have been the “stow-a-ways and lepers-this is your last option” section. The panic started to rise in my gut. I nearly backed out right then and there! I glanced at Kesha; Kesha glanced at me, no words necessary. To make matters worse, the people sitting in the row in front of me had their seats fully reclined. I knew right away I had not taken nearly enough Xanax. Oh my dear Lord in Heaven I prayed, how would I survive the next 17 hours in that tiny spot?! Kesha graciously conceded and gave me the aisle seat so I could lean over into the aisle which gave me the illusion of an accessible means of escape. Did I mention I have a slight neurotic tendency for claustrophobia?
Okay, I had to psyche myself up. I can do this. I am a strong, intelligent, Southern, Christian woman. I have given birth three times, taught 25 years in a classroom full of 5 year olds, surely I can handle this minor inconvenience. That is precisely what I thought…however what I said was “Hand me my pill case, Kesha!” She didn’t hear me because precisely at the same moment she was saying “I need your pill case Penny!” Did I mention she has claustrophobic tendencies of her own?
Finally, the plane gets ready for take off…Kesha and I are still in panic mode, rattling incessantly about how we are going to manage the next 48 hours on the plane, I mean 17 hours. At this point, our only hope is that we will pass out from the medication and not realize our discomfort. And then, I looked up at the row in front of me, the row with the couple reclined into my chest. Their row is one of those middle rows behind the flight attendant station. They have enough leg room to fully extend their legs and get up and waltz if they so desire!!! AND they are fully reclined into my lap!!! AND, the two seats next to them are EMPTY!
Okay, these are the facts as I see them. 1)They told me the plane was packed to capacity. 2)They gave Jonathan an aisle seat for no apparent reason after I asked nicely for one. 3)There are two EMPTY spacious seats in front of me. Now every one of you who truly know me, must know what is coming next. I am not one to sit idly by and let an obvious miscarriage of justice transpire right before my eyes, especially when it involves a violation of MY wishes. ;) Oh no, it’s on.
So I made a completely selfless decision. In the best interest of all the other passengers on board who would have to endure my displays of discomfort for the next 65 hours, I mean 17 hours, I decided to do the only humane and completely sacrificial thing I could do. I changed seats. I know; I am selfless that way… I was only thinking of the comfort of others. It was the least I could do to keep my fellow passengers from a long flight of misery. And now 10 hours into the flight, I am fully convinced I made the right decision.