Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Perils of Flying Fat

The Perils of Flying Fat

So we've been in Zambia now for about 2 days. It seems much longer because there is always something going on and believe it or not, there is little time to write on either of my blogs. I haven't even organized our suitcases yet - that is another job for today. But I don't want to let too many days go by without posting.

I have come to the conclusion that fat people should not fly - or they should at least not fly economy class.

Spending 18 hours on an airplane is hard enough when you don't have to deal with an extra 100 pounds.

First thing.......you look at that narrow seat and you wonder if you can even squeeze into it. Then, you worry that the seatbelt will not go around your belly and you will have to go through the humiliation of asking for an extender. Just buckling a seatbelt is difficult anyway - the extra fat on your arms fights with the fat around your belly and forget about trying to actually SEE what you are doing!

So, now you're settled. and you've kicked your purse or you laptop bag under the seat in front of you, knowing that getting it back will be nearly impossible because to get it, you have to bend in half in order to reach the floor (unless you have abnormally long arms) and your belly makes folding yourself in half a fantasy on the level of world peace. But you will deal with that later......you didn't really want to read that book anyway, did you?

So you sit, leaning away from your seat mate as much as possible, and holding your arms across your chest so that you don't rub shoulders (literally) with the person sitting next to you - even if that person is the one you love, you need to have some 'personal space'. You are barely in the air and the cabin crew begins to come around with beverage service. New stress.........will the food tray fit in front of your big belly? You start adjusting yourself and finding out what works BEFORE you are embarrassed in front of the svelte woman serving drinks.

Alright.......you have a food tray and you have something to drink, and you're thinking you should have ordered a double whiskey (a couple times) so you could just pass out and be unaware of the discomforts of flying.

Then the food comes. Oh man, if it wasn't crowded enough already, they set a tray in front of you with at least 3 different containers, a napkin, salt and pepper, a toothpick, and a cup. The space between your body and the food is 1 m.m AND it is in your lap (so to speak), not at table level. There is no room for you to bend forward slightly to eat as the 'normal sized' passengers are doing - if you leaned forward, you would be wearing your food. So, you lift the plate or bowl up to chest height and you spoon your food into your mouth from there, limiting the spillage.

Now you have to sit with the food tray pinning you into your seat for up to 10 minutes or more, waiting for the cabin crew to come back and collect the remnants of your meal.

Even now, you cannot relax because by this time you've been in the air for well over an hour - maybe even more than 2 hours and you MUST get up and move if you don't want your ankles, feet, legs to swell up like tree trunks. If you are smart, you have an aisle seat. If not, you have to ask your seatmate to move so you can get 'out'. This is not easy when you have so much extra bulk.

The aisle is not real easy to navigate for anyone and if you have 'extra padding' on all parts of your body it is nearly impossible to walk any distance down the aisle without having your hips bump into someone's shoulders. *Make a note that if you ever do this again, you'll get a seat beside the toilet so you don't have to go through that again*

The bathroom in an airplane is smaller than a closet - literally. Use your imagination to think about manoeuvring to pull up your skirt or pull down your jeans without falling against the folding door. *Remember 'Tommy Boy' changing in the airplane toilet??? * This is a procedure you will have to repeat often because you need to drink LOTS of water in order to help limit the swelling of your feet/ankles/legs. Oh well, you had to get up and move around anyway - for the same reason.

In between all the struggles to get in and out of your seatbelt and trips to the toilet, you find ways to distract your mind from the discomfort and humiliation. You read (if you remembered to get your book out of your bag before you kicked it under the seat in front of you) or you sleep (if you are very lucky) or you watch movies on the tiny screen in the seat back in front of you.

Air travel can be quite stressful in the best of situations - extra fat makes it about 200 times worse.

7 hours after boarding, you are finally in a room that is not like a tube - the ceiling is far above you and you can put as much space between you and the next person as you wish. You spend 8 hours watching other travellers, trying to sleep on the benches in the airport, and walking around to (every one say it...) limit the swelling of your feet/ankles/legs.

Then you start all over again as you board a craft to take you to your next destination. New plane. Same questions. Will the seat belt fit? Will I be able to pull the food tray down? How close am I to the toilet? Will I be able to sleep? What movies will be available to numb my mind? Should I order those 2 double whiskies this time? Or will the alcohol cause my feet/ankles/legs to swell even more?

12 hours later, you are racing through a different airport, trying to find your gate only to sit and wait for boarding.

This time, your flight will be only 1 1/2 hours long. (Thank God) But your heart sinks when you see that the plane you will be travelling on is miniscule compared to the ones you've squeezed yourself into up to now. You almost groan out loud when you begin to walk down the aisle and you see that these seats are at least 2 inches narrower than the seats on the larger planes. Forget the alcohol.......GOD SAVE ME!!!!!

By the time you've arrived at your final destination and the hugs and welcome from your family ease some of the indignity of air travel, you are contemplating selling your house so you can fly home first class.

I thank God that I am a pretty adaptable person.....these stresses, while very real, can be adapted to.

My husband, on the other hand, found out that he is at least slightly claustrophobic. That could be alleviated by our next trip to Africa if we both lose some weight.

Not a bad extra incentive.


arlene said...

OK, you made me laugh! I'm sorry, I was not laughing at you my friend, but rather laughing with you, 'cause I know how it feels!!!
Glad you made it safely. I am still in awe of the fact that you have already done that journey, twice, ALL BY YOURSELF!! And I know those hugs waiting for you made it all worth it.
Love you!

Nancy said...

Can I just say....I know how you feel! I just traveled to Rome from Florida...stopping in Atlanta and New York. On one leg of the flight I DID have to ask for an extension. It was awful. Humiliated! I couldn't put the food tray down all the way...so I had to hold the tray so it didn't slide backwards and fall off! I'm disgusted with myself! I'm glad you had hugs waiting for you! Thanks for posting this....although I wish things were different for me (and you too), it's nice to find someone who understands!

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