AIN Blog: Getting There Isn’t Half the Fun

 - May 25, 2012, 9:01 AM

Recently Chad Trautvetter, one of my AIN colleagues, was asked on his Facebook page if he honestly believes owning a corporate jet makes sense. “Would you buy one?” he was asked. Chad’s response was that if he had the money he’d definitely buy one, and I agree completely. Let me give you an example why.

There used to be an airline commercial that touted, “Getting there is half the fun!” You don’t see that one anymore because it isn’t. It isn’t even one-sixteenth the fun.

Going to EBACE two weeks ago I was told at the O’Hare ticket counter I was allowed one bag up to 50 pounds. My bag was 52.5 pounds; the overweight charge was $200. So there I was at the ticket counter surrounded by hundreds of people waiting in line as I tear through my bag transferring underwear into my laptop backpack. Two hours later, when I open the overhead compartment and unzip the backpack to take out the computer, my underwear drops on top of the woman sitting below. How do you even begin to explain why your underwear is on a strange woman’s head?

Returning from EBACE last week, my flight from Geneva to Dulles would best be characterized as a real-life version of Dante’s Inferno. Hovering around the fifth level of the Inferno for the entire trip, I became convinced that there’s a special place in heaven for business travelers who held an airline frequent flier card of gold status or above, because they’ve done their time in hell.

There is no way this is going to be politically correct, so I stand ready to take the heat but here’s a thought: If you are so big you don’t fit in a standard airline coach seat you should probably be considering an alternative method of transportation. Private train compartments, the back row of seats on a bus or even a stateroom on a tramp steamer; anywhere but in the coach seat next to me. Mind you, I am sympathetic toward those who have a medical condition that results in excessive weight gain, but whether it’s medical or Twinkie-induced why should I have to pay the price?

Granted, I am 20 pounds overweight myself, but I fit between the two armrests; turns out I fit in less space than I thought. Pulling up the armrest between us so you could ooze over into my space was not OK simply because you said, “I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry” is for when you accidentally bumped me while brushing crumbs off your chest, not for squeezing me so hard against the window that I began the metamorphosis into a diamond.  Why the airline wanted to charge me $200 for about four pairs of underwear but was willing to forego what I’d estimate to be $1,200 in overweight fines epoxied to my right side is anyone’s guess.

Fortunately I had paid the extra $90 out of my pocket to upgrade to the premium coach seat with five more inches of leg room. “It will make all the difference in the world when it comes to comfort,” the reservation agent told me. Once I settled into all that extra room I realized the implication of making reservations with a gnome. On the positive side, the human body is more or less malleable, so rather than turning into a diamond my body translated the sideways pressure into longitudinal extension and I filled up the extra five inches of legroom. I literally spent more than nine hours in an impromptu G-suit squeezing about four of my roughly six quarts of blood up into my brain. The first two hours I was seriously afraid I might die; the remaining seven hours I was afraid I wouldn’t.

When the cabin attendant threw my plastic tray of non-denominational muscle material and gruel to me I was physically unable to face forward and use utensils to eat; there was nowhere for my right arm to go. I had to turn 90 degrees in my seat, facing the window, and hold the plastic tray with my left hand while using my right hand to hold the spork. It made the simple act of cutting the three semi-gelatinous coated strips of gristle impossible.  Nine hours… Does private jet ownership make sense? You betcha. Maybe Chad and I can go halves on a used BBJ