Unstirred air suspended aloft the unwitting contributions of two hundred, some fragrant and others malodorous. The unlucky one in seat 12E mid-row avoided as best she could the befouled emanations of her window-seated neighbour.
Merciful heavens, she pleaded in not quite a prayer, activate the air system. As if on her cue the engines spun to life, their high-pitched whine a promise of air cleansed of the offending odours.
Jill despised the air travel her employment bound her to with onerous regularity, and she lamented her third unfortunate seating in successive flights. If nothing else, the man distracted her from what came next.
Attendants appeared and walked the aisle, casting trained eyes on buckles, unsecured trays, and carry-ons. One stopped cabin front and instructed in the ways of water landings. He said not a thing about how to cope with a five hundred miles per hour try for a steep hillside. And, the flight covered the span of a country locked in its worst drought since John Steinbeck chronicled America’s heartland. Water landing?
The pilot rattled off pleasantries and made small talk about weather conditions in flight and at the destination. She followed with an advisory what clued in the passengers to departure status, as if she communed with the boarders and not those in the employ of the Federal Aviation Administration.
The whine spiked as engines roared their fierceness. The plane backed away from the gate and shifted direction, ready for its long taxi. The stench of her neighbour dissipated.
Jill realised her blockage of the easy flow of budding conversation. Stenchman and her neighbour other side knew each other.
“Would either of you wish to exchange seats with me?” Jill made the offer and hoped.
“No,” said the one not Stenchman. “We prefer making you into a sandwich.”
(Author’s note: some of the above constitute travel experiences, some don’t. I’ll leave you to decide which I’ve experienced.)