My view of world aviation

Among ‘low-level ecstasies’ that I have spotted recently, finding yourself unexpectedly in a bulkhead seat with lots of legroom in the economy class of a very long international flight with no one occupying the 3 seats next to you and absolutely no babies in sight, is a pretty difficult one to beat. But then, world aviation today is so character-forming that occasional mercies merit joyous indulgence.

As I forsake business travel for leisure trips and consequently do more coach than upper class, my approach to flying is getting highly refined. John Playfair the British philosopher wrote (in another context of course – he did not have the advantage of modern long distance flying to sharpen his philosophical approach),

“It were unwise to be sanguine

and unphilosophical to despair”

While one can write reams of ‘how to’ tips on Flying, the good John’s snappy two-liner seems to pretty much cover it.

And, as I stood in queue with about 8 gazillion people for 2 hours in the Dubai International airport recently, trying to hand over my bag to someone in Emirates, I thanked ol’ John. ‘Twas good advice.

Incidentally, ‘low level ecstasy’ is a term coined by Bill Bryson, for which he gets my vote as the Philosopher of the Year. And while I am on the subject of giving credit where it is due, let me add that the John Playfair quote above is from Stephen Jay Gould’s book, Rocks of Ages. And just in case Mr Gould stumbles upon my blog : yes, I do think Rocks of Ages is an intriguing book – in spite of having phrases like Non Overlapping Magisteria.


3 thoughts on “My view of world aviation

  1. “Joyous indulgence” is right. For additional indulgence, remember the joys of an economy middle seat at dawn on Monday, with corpulent fellow passengers. Sit back and enjoy.

    Oh, and I once made the mistake of writing about hordes of children running loose (and getting lost) in an airport terminal on a Monday morning. Suffice to say that post generated a firestorm from indignant parents who all seemed to think that world (and I as its representative) has a grudge against them simply for having children.

  2. Unless of course you’re sanguine about despair.

    Come to think of it I wonder if travel by plane were not merely about transportation, as in going from point A to point B, and included views of the journey as out the window of a bus or a train, would waiting tax one as much?

  3. Nisha – babies & travel seem to be one of those sore points in modern discourse. As a parent I hate people who disparage kids. As a traveller, I would much rather that all babies disappear. Difficult. A few years ago, the Economist magazine suggested a ban on babies in Business Class, to be (unsurprisingly) met with with a continous stream of hate mail from parents.

    Anil – what a neat idea. To be sanguine about despair. I will now retreat to a corner and think about this.

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