How I Survive Long Flights (after 2 Decades of Taking Them)

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The stories are legion, even in the realm of my first-hand experience: The entire economy cabin of my flight once watched the mother of a newborn melt down completely when she found that she didn’t have the front seat with the little detachable crib after all. On another occasion I watched a woman get her carry-on bag tested for size at the boarding gate, then, forced to check it, grow increasingly angry, erupting finally at the gate agent with the following statement: “I don’t know why you’re so angry, or why you have it out for me.” As I boarded ahead of her, I listened to her phone call to customer service, complaining about the awful treatment she’d received.

If you’ve traveled via plane much over the past decade or so, you too have had occasion to watch reasonable people crumble into temporary insanity. You’ve been the person crumbling into temporary insanity. I once spent a flight getting up for the bathroom repeatedly not because I had to pee, but so I could give the stink eye to the family behind me who had insisted I not recline my seat because they had a child in their laps. When you’re in the throes of an airplane-induced meltdown, no rational line of thought about how world travel is still a privilege that most people in the world can’t afford has any effect. You are miserable, you don’t deserve this, and someone should pay.