And then I entered hell – a middle seat on a 100% full Air France Boeing 777, departing at 6:55pm and arriving 9 hours later at JFK.
It is no secret that my greatest fall from grace has been my return to Economy Class after years of flying Business Class during my Out & About years. [Note to Readers: If you feel the need to make a "Poor David" comment, please don't bother. It will only expose you as never having been a front-of-the-plane flyer.]
A glimpse at my 9 hours from Paris to New York:
On my right (the aisle seat), was a nice, late middle-aged man from Memphis who spent the entire flight gasping for breath and deep sighing. He told me he had a just-discovered prostate infection and had been taking the wrong antibiotic. Lovely. He also slept for about 80% of the trip. This meant that I – and the terrifying person sitting on my other side (see below) – had to wake him for repeated pee breaks.
To my left (the window seat), sat what increasingly passes for a typical American ... a 20-ish girl carrying at least 40% more body weight than intended by nature. She spoke French well ... insisting on ordering her jus d'orange and Sprite (which she pronounced "Spreet") with a showy French flair that was completely lost on the surly flight attendants who couldn't give a merde about anyone's French skills. Over the course of this long journey, my lovely neighbor (who was actually very nice, just gross) entertained me with the following:
- She rapturously ate a large bag of individually wrapped taffies and about a pound of sour gummi worms. Where does one purchase shit like that in Europe???!!!
- She sat cross-legged the entire flight, meaning that much of the flight I had a killer view of her absolutely filthy feet.
- She applied a lovely smelling foot cream to said feet. Repeatedly.
- She put on her iPod somewhere over the Atlantic, turned to gaze out the window, and began to quiver and cry (oy, gevalt).
- She coughed a lot. A. Lot. Even alot.
- She farted, approximately every 15 minutes. At first I wasn't sure if it was her or him. But finally him went to the bathroom, leaving me alone with her, and the evidence was irrefutable.
- To end the show – and I kid you not – she spent the final pre-landing half hour picking her calloused feet, and daintily mange-ing her pick.
OK. I'm done describing. And I'm done with Economy on any flight of over 5 hours. As Scarlet O-Hara famously said – with a potato in hand that surely tasted better than the Air France Coach grub – "As God is my witness, I'll never fly long-haul economy again."