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Last week was one of those weeks: I left home on a Sunday, before dinner, to fly across the country for work. Proceeded through four planes and three cities in three days, catching a red-eye back. That’s one of the most aptly nicknamed flights around. Of course, it could also be called the sore-back or stiff-neck or totally-wiped-out… But I digress.
In three marathon days of work and travel, it wasn’t actually the overnight flight home that stayed with me. It was the evening flight out, with me in the very last row of coach on a classic 757 that didn’t have a single available seat. I was in row 44, to be exact, with no other option.
With all due respect to the West Coast, I’ve always felt like a six-hour flight should land me on another continent. That is a loooong trip, and being in the last row has the potential to make it feel a whole lot longer unless you employ some serious lemonade-making thought processes to find the good in what is clearly not a good situation. Given the migraine-inducing realities of air travel today, this can come in very handy. So, in an effort to help all of my fellow frequent fliers, here are the results of my efforts to identify the “perksâ€ of a situation that at first seemed to lack any.
Great Service: In the last row, you’re so close to the galley, you can smell everything happening in there (which, since airlines have given up cooking, isn’t much). You’re the first to be served a beverage and the tiniest possible packaged snack ever created. Of course, if you’re a big spender, you can buy something heartier without having to ever worry that the red wine, beer or sandwich you want is going to run out before your row is reached.
Safety First: Not only are you close to the exit without having to bear the heavy psychological burden of sitting in the exit row (are you really equipped to rip that door from its hinges, toss it from the plane, and play hero in a crisis?), you are actually sitting smack under the plane’s emergency medical supplies, including oxygen and a defibrillator. I found this out on my flight when a woman passed out in the aisle and the flight attendants had to climb up on my seat to get the equipment out. Luckily, the ill woman was revived without using any of it. But for my troubles (I had to stand up while the equipment was retrieved and then returned) the flight attendants apologized profusely and offered to give me anything I wanted. Of course, they no longer have anything (ice cream, a nice hot meal, a headset worth keeping) I want on planes, so I humbly declined.
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