Life on planes

When I boarded UA1 in San Francisco, I was so tired that, despite my best efforts, I soon fell asleep, waking later with a sore neck to find I’d folded forwards like a prawn and drooled into my t-shirt. I did at least have he window seat in a bulkhead row, but there’s not enough space there to really get comfortable, and if I tried to lean my head to one side, unpleasant vibrations from the fuselage were transmitted through my noise cancelling headphones into my skull. Of course, I could have removed my headphones, but then it would have been too noisy to sleep.

I read an issue of Revolver, a glossy American metal magazine, with Rob Halford on the front cover and an interview with a band with a trans singer on the inside, and another interview with a metal head who happens to be a high up at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A quarter of a century ago, the very idea of women in metal bands was strange enough, let alone anyone who isn’t a vanilla heterosexual, so to have this much wider spectrum of humanity celebrated (and in a matter-of-fact way, rather than "look what Marilyn Manson is up to this week") is a welcome, though surprising progression. Oh, and Dave Ellefson, one-time Megadeth guitarist, now has his own line of coffee beans.

A 17 hour flight is something special. You can watch a few movies (Only The Brave had me weeping at the end in the darkness, surrounded by total strangers), read, eat dinner, doze a few times and still be 8 hours from landing. The only thing that reliably got me to sleep was watching Bob’s Burgers, an episode I’d seen before that lulled me to sleep for a while. And on and on the plane chugged.

When I got off in Changi, I could see a Scoot 787 at the stand, and I wondered if that was the one I’d take to Perth. Unless they flew that one off and put another one in its place, 6 hours later I was on that plane as it backed up on the apron and then trundled to the runway. My daughters had been happily singing the Big Wing song (which I assume they had just composed, as it consists solely of the phrase "Big Wing" repeated over and over while gesticulating at aircraft) and were remarkably well behaved embarking on this trip. We have bribed them with Netflix and colouring books; 60% of our way to Perth and they seem to be holding up OK.

I’m… not as bad as I could have been, I suppose. By the time we touch down, I’ll have spent more than 36 hours in 6 days on planes. All three have been 787s, and I’m still super happy with the electronic window dimming controls, but my feet are swollen, my vision is blurry, my nose is twitchy and at any moment I expect my shoulders to go into spasm. At least I don’t fly again until Tuesday. Then I will have no more plane food for two weeks, before at least eleven flights in April, across a constellation of different airlines: Delta, Singapore Airlines, AirAsia and Garuda, carefully ensuring I earn a negligible number of frequent flyer points across every airline alliance in existence. At least, as my father told me, I should get some kind of loyalty bonus from Changi Airport.

Oh, and once again I’m revolted by inaccurate men who stand up to pee on toilets. The toilet on the way back from San Francisco had been liberally doused with urine and the man who used the toilet before me on this flight to Perth had micturated on the seat. So nice when you’re barefooted in flight, to contort yourself between puddles of piss as you enter and exit the tiniest room.

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