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While this may sound like a roundup post, it’s actually just some musings from my travel day today. I’m headed home from a work trip, and I often find that 35,000 feet can be quite inspiring.

So when it’s not inspiring me to sleep, I tend to write. And today I had a few issues to ponder. So I put pen to paper. Er…hmmm…not sure if that analogy is even valid anymore. Anyway…

How do flight attendants handle puke?

Today was my second-ever experience with someone puking on a plane. While a was previously annoyed to be seated in front of a young girl who kept roughly dropping and closing the tray table, I was suddenly thankful our places weren’t swapped when the teenage kid behind me threw up all over the wall and floor. I’m pretty sure some hit the wall at her right. Made me think of this story.

I felt really bad for the young man, mainly because his mom sounded angry, more than anything, and directed all of it at him. I don’t think he had caught much (or any) of the vomit in a bag (is airsickness becoming rare?). The FAs did a great job assisting with the situation. I would have been grossed out.

It had been a long time since I’d experienced puke on a plane. Back in 2008 I flew from San Francisco to London with a good friend. He ended up puking the last half hour of the flight (and the heaving continued intermittently until we left the London underground!). Luckily, everything was caught in the airsickness bags conveniently provided. The FAs in that instance did their best, which basically just consisted of checking on us, removing puke-filled bags, and bringing us more napkins, if needed.

Please don’t book your family in basic economy

After a brisk walk through Hartsfield-Jackson and away from the acrid barf smell, I was onto the long leg of my trip back to the Bay Area. With Zone 1 boarding and a seat near the back of the bus, I got settled in before most others in my section. Some of the last people aboard included a family of 4 booked into basic economy.

How do I know they were booked into basic economy? Well, I’d been checking the seat map, and the seat beside me was free just the day before. So were the middles in the other rows around me. Which they were all seated into, in 4 successive rows. So either they booked their tickets less than 24 hours out, or they were in basic economy. My money is on the latter.

Mom and dad seemed totally fine, and the kid next to me seemed a seasoned flyer. But I could tell his younger sister was more than a bit uncomfortable sitting between two rather large guys in the row in front of me. I would not want to make my daughter endure hours sitting uncomfortably between complete strangers. No, no, no. That’s my job, if someone has to do it.

So don’t book your family in basic economy. Unless you have a child you really don’t like. Then by all means, go ahead. Or maybe hold it over them as potential punishment if they don’t behave prior to the family trip.

Delta is winning, only because United is so terrible

Maybe it’s because almost all my flights with United (update: except for the most recent) have been mediocre at best and frustrating at worst, but Delta has completely knocked my socks off on the last couple flights I’ve taken with them. My one flight with American didn’t impress me much, so maybe they still deserve another chance. Maybe.

From entertainment to food, Delta is winning. In February I flew United from SFO to IAD. The inflight entertainment was BYOD. Not a fan. This was a 5+ hour flight. Put *something* in the seat back. Contrast this with Delta, who had seat-back IFE on a flight at short at 1:20. There wasn’t anything on the 717 leaving Charlottesville this morning, but my SMF-SLC flight on a 737-900 on the outbound surprised me by offering seat back entertainment.

Secondly, I found that I can actually trust Delta to get me where I need to go, although this means driving 3.5 extra hours to the nearest airport served by them. Flying out of our local regional airport is a crap shoot every time. Granted, this is not *all* United’s fault. To date, I have had 3 canceled flights out of about 15 trips between home and the Bay. That’s a 20% cancellation rate. Twenty. Percent. So far Delta has been perfectly on time every time.

Delta’s food was great as well. Since I was flying for work and had been in a rush, I actually paid for “airplane food”. It tasted fresh and was delivered in a timely manner. Contrast this with my last medium-haul United flight where the FAs took nearly three hours to get around to serving food. After a ridiculously delayed 6:00 a.m. departure and a subsequent tight connection, I had gone about 8 hours without food.

Add to this the fact that the seat back only offered the utterly idiotic DirecTV (seriously, who dreamed this up?), I was not a happy camper. So for my past couple work trips I did anything and everything I could to avoid United and stick with a real airline.

So now, although I never planned to be a fanboy, I now find myself gravitating toward Delta over the other U.S. carriers. Another plus: far less Rhapsody in Blue. I like the Gershwin piece…United has just worn it out.


If you’ve gotten this far, I give you kudos for sticking with me this whole way. Maybe next time I’ll actually have something nice to say about United. Not sure if I can say the same about puking on airplanes. I definitely won’t have any nice words for basic economy.

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