Lines Composed a Few (Thousand) Miles Above Nova Scotia

It’s about that time. That time, on the plane, where everyone is drifting off to sleep and the cabin lights are off and it’s just me and a couple of other folks with their overhead lights still on – making life just a little bit harder for the people next to us trying to sleep. Especially since this plane is new and fancy and the lights are wicked-bright LEDs. But that’s how it goes. I can’t sleep on planes. And I’m not going to sit in the dark and twiddle my thumbs for five more hours or fry my retinas typing on my iPad in the dark. But they’ll get to Frankfurt tomorrow, perhaps not exactly “well” rested, but they probably won’t be as delirious and bedraggled as I’m likely to feel. So I guess it sort of evens out.

I’m on the biggest plane ever. It’s got two levels to it – that’s a new experience for me. About an hour before the flight, a horde of flight attendants and pilots descended on the terminal. It was like a mini-platoon, and I thought to myself, “clearly, that’s the crew for like three different flights.” But no. I think there are more than 30 people working on this plane. And maybe something like 500+ passengers.

Basically, I’m on a flying cruise ship right now. The cabin is separated out into three sections, cordoned off by curtains. The surprisingly spacious bathrooms have automated sinks. The food was even decent! [Update: my godfather informed me that I was flying on an Airbus 380 – which is, in fact, the largest passenger jet on earth. So I wasn’t even being hyperbolic this time!]

I’m in the middle section, which seats four, though I’m on the aisle, thank god. Mainly, I sit on the aisle since I tend to have to get up a whole lot (yay for hydration!) and would rather not force my seat-mates to get up and down all night. I’m considerate like that. Trade off for the night light thing, maybe.

I find that travel really brings out people’s character defects, and when I’m not obliviously stewing in my own, I find it fascinating to sit back and observe people. Strangers in close proximity. Like a pressure cooker.

The elderly couple on the left hand side of my section got all up in arms when the guy sitting next to me wouldn’t get off his phone after the doors were closed. They even summoned the flight attendants to tell on him. A great way to start a nine hour journey in a confined space: tattling like a Kindergartner. It didn’t go over well with phone-guy, and his muttering about “why people always gotta get up in other people’s business” seemed like a tense start to our journey together. But I offered him a conciliatory stick of gum, and although he declined, the passive aggressive commentary faded.

Granted, in my head I always find it exasperating when people on planes don’t think the rules apply to them – especially when it comes to overhead compartments. Is it really that difficult to put your suitcases in wheels-first, people? And does that laptop case really belong in the overhead compartment on a full flight? I don’t think so. But I’ve also accepted that it’s none of my business so long as there’s room for my bag, which there usually is since I tend to get up and hover as soon as boarding seems like it’s going to start. I’m one of those.

(There’s a guy to my left right now throwing a tantrum to his wife because the stewards are talking too loud. So, according to his logic, “there’s no sense in even trying to sleep!” “He’s practically screaming now!”)

Given the number of times the attendants came through offering free booze, I’m a bit surprised by how quiet things have been. Seriously, there were cocktails on the first pass, beer and wine the second time, then beer and wine again with dinner, and then cognac or Bailey’s after the food. Or maybe that is why everything’s so quiet. It’s only 8:30 pm Texas time, but if Lufthansa got most of the plane a bit tipsy, no wonder they’re all ready to sleep.

I’m still pretty wide awake though and not so brain dead that it’s time to start in on the movies. That’ll come in another couple hours. So I figured I’d capture some detail while I can still put together coherent sentences. Am crossing my fingers that Frankfurt airport will have free wifi and I can upload this in the morning on my four-hour layover. Then I’ll write something else when I finally get to Prague, and it’ll be fun to compare the posts against my level of sleep depravation. Since I’ve been up since 5:00 am Texas time (yielding about 5 hours of sleep), that puts me at just about 15.5 hours awake and feeling pretty good.

The flight info on my seat back video screen is impressively detailed. I know we are cruising at 37978 feet, that we have 2739 miles left to go (4.9 hours), and I can watch the mile counter ticks its way down one by one… though, actually, that probably verges on too much detail.

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