Eight Reasons I Love Flying
In a recent article by Paulie , he shared eight things he dislikes about flying with the airlines . As I read it, and the comments left, I began to dread even thinking about my next flight.
Mentally, I can easily be taken down a path to negativity that robs me of the joy I feel doing the things I love to do. Most of the time, I do not need any help doing it. People and life itself can do it for us, but the reality is that, most of the time, I do it to myself .
So, in an effort to change my dread into action, I present my story, and the reasons I still love to fly.
Some History and Moments to Forget
My first plane ride was on August 23, 1973, when I flew from Los Angeles, California to San Antonio, Texas, on my way to Basic Training for the Air Force. I have flown many times in the 42 years since--commercially, militarily, and privately. It has not all been pleasant, that is for sure.
- I flew from Anchorage to Adak, Alaska during a storm at 300 feet above the water, sitting on cargo nets in a C-130. I threw up in my cover (Navy-speak for "hat").
- When the nose-gear on a C-118 (DC-6) would not come down and into its locked position, the pilot was instructed to get into the holding pattern. On the airfield, they were preparing for a crash landing by foaming the runway. We landed on that foam, and then sat for a couple of hours, while the crash crew was checking out the plane before they towed us to the hangar.
- In 1982 in North Platte, Nebraska (population approx. 24,000), our plane broke down, and we had to wait at this small, regional airport to have the parts flown in from our home station to fix it. Let's just say that there was not a lot to do or see in the terminal. There were no cell phones, laptop computers or WiFi. We were stranded for a couple of days.
Flying civilian airlines, there have also been situations that I would rather forget, including:
- Being assigned the middle seat in the front of the coach section, where the arm rests do not go up. I weighed 250 pounds (at 5'10"), and they put me between two men who were shorter than me, and each weighing about the same as me or more. They were much wider in the shoulders, mid-section, and chest than I. They knew one another, and constantly conversed around/through me in their native Italian throughout the five-hour flight.
- At 210 pounds, I was unable to fasten the seat belt as it was short in my seat. In a full plane, the flight attendant shouted to one in the forward cabin, "Could you please get me an extender? This woman cannot get the belt fastened." I was not anywhere as large as many people in that cabin, but I felt that I was 300 pounds, and was embarrassed to tears.
Reasons I Love to Fly
Despite the economy class seats giving me no room for my knees or my size 12 feet, or the insensitive staff, or medical issues that make waiting in line for the toilet difficult for me, or the various other inconveniences suffered during travel situations, I still love to fly.
- It takes less time for me to fly than to drive the same distance. -- Time is money. The 2000 miles from my home to my sister's in Tulsa would have taken me 3 to 4 days (one-way) to drive. The actual flight time was 3 hours 40 minutes. I was able to spend most of my 10 days off with my sister, rather than 2 days.
- The cost of the flight is less, compared to years ago. -- The same flight from Seattle, WA to Tulsa, OK that costs approximately $400 round-trip today is less expensive than what I paid for a one-way ticket in 1974 from Austin, TX to Los Angeles, CA. Deregulation has made that possible for us all to do so.
- Flying is cheaper than driving. -- According to AAA.com, the average national price per gallon was $3.51 for regular gas when I made the trip to Tulsa last year. I have an economical car, which gets more than 30 miles per gallon on the open road. For a 4000-mile round trip, travel alone would have taken 134 gallons, costing more than $470. This does not account for wear-and-tear, and the cost of motels and food along the way.
- I love to meet new people. -- Over the years, there are people with whom I have had conversations on a plane that have become my friends. If not friends, they have shared stories that have changed my life. Others have offered smiles and, when I was feeling down and depressed over the death of a loved one. There are so many more things I could say here, but it would be a book.
- Flight attendants are the consummate customer service representatives. -- I do not think there is a tougher customer service job out there. They are some of the most positive, diplomatic people I have met, especially in a thankless job. They do their best in a plane full of people who are living out their frustrations of life and what they expect from their $400 round-trip tickets. Flight attendants are as tough, if not tougher, than some I have seen in the medical field, and police force. I have found them to be understanding and helpful, when I politely share my needs with them, privately. The few bad ones are usually those who have had to recently deal with bad customer experiences. After all, they are human, too.
- Impatient, rude, unhappy people remind me how lucky I am to be me. -- Rather than jumping into a pool of irritation, as I used to do frequently, I have learned to look at others' behaviors and be thankful that I am learning to release myself of the stress and angst. It is not always easy, but I am far less annoyed by others than I used to be. I feel fortunate to look at others and smile, maybe offering them "Good morning" and chance where they have a respite-moment.
- Unexpected delays give me a chance to breathe . -- Because I am one who works mostly under stress to get my way on a trip, a delay at the airport gives me a chance to decompress, or take a moment to stop fretting. I have learned to take care of myself and be kinder to self, realizing that whatever I have forgotten, I can purchase. That is after I have gone through my OCD-style check and recheck of having my boarding documents! The chance to sit and wait is a nice break from the craziness of something I cannot control anyway.
- Emergencies, turbulence, and other such things give me stories to tell . -- In a world that seems to be full of people who are trying to isolate from others based on fear, upbringing, and other experiences in life, all of the unpleasant things that we must endure gives me opportunity to relate to others and make connection in all my walks of life. It also allows me to tell the same stories from a different perspective often told very differently.
My Final Thoughts
It is very easy for me to be angry, depressed, negative, and cynical about life and all its workings. I am no different than others who live in the same mindset. I often need to remind myself that I get to choose how I look at any situation.
Does this mean that I wear a yellow smiley face mask every where I go? Hardly. Anyone who has met me knows better. Anyone who has read by going back through the countless things I have written can come up with evidence to the contrary.
I declared back in 2009 that my mission in life was "to help others by inspiring them to see beyond (the challenges they think they face)." I recognize that anyone who wants to be seen as a leader of people must live by the same standards. This is the reason why I challenge myself to see beyond my own negativity and tough things I face in every aspect of life.
Before I can offer my help or advice to my workshop students, family and friends, or my private coaching (career, life, and communication) clients, I have to continually challenge myself. It starts by my looking in the mirror.
Whether I need to look beyond the situations of health, annoying people, life's troubles, or flying on over-packed, over-rated airplanes with few amenities, my reality is such that I need to do it for me. The mirror I look toward is simply my own. Believe me, when I tell you, it ain't always pretty.
But even then, I could come up with eight things I DO like about looking in that mirror.
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