I am told by the agent I use to book flights that I can’t actually reserve an exit row seat, because the airline staff needs to see me in person to ensure that I am physically capable of performing exit row duties in the event of an emergency. Fine. I show up to the airport two hours early to make sure I get an exit row seat, only the originally scheduled flight has been replaced with one which doesn’t originate here, but rather uses my beloved airport as a stopover. Exit rows - full, row 1 - full, aisle seats - full. Damn. I get assigned a middle seat at the back of the plane, and as I walk toward the back I see, sitting comfortably in the exit row, a woman who must be at least 75 years of age, and who is all of five-foot-nothing, stretched out in her seat. Getting to my seat (after what seemed like at least a 20 minute walk), I cram myself in, only I am physically unable to fit in the economy class (so named because midget class just doesn’t sound PC enough) seat, even with the seat ahead of me fully upright. I don’t have much choice given how full the flight is, so I sort of twist sideways and stick my legs in front of the seat next to me and partially into the aisle. Enter the woman who owns the aisle seat - and she isn’t having it - she stops arguing when she realizes that there is nowhere for my legs to actually go, so she calls the attendant to remedy this injustice. The attendant was nice enough, and actually tried to see if the living dead in the exit row would be willing to exchange seats, but to no avail. Apparently they cannot bump anyone, nor can they refuse to assign the seat to someone that wants it (on a first come, first served basis), regardless of their height. I finally negotiate some sort of compromise by pulling my knees up enough to stack one upon the other, and lay my legs in front of the woman next to me, but with enough room that she could also fit, albeit sticking into the aisle a bit. So there I am, sitting in a contorted position that I wouldn’t even want to assume for the sake of sex, feeling my limbs go numb and wondering if we’ll be graced by a two hundred mile per hour tail wind, when at that very moment, the person in the seat ahead of me decides to fully recline their seat.
As the pain courses through my body, the only thought going through my head that was not a string of cuss words was to wonder how much it would cost me to take extra time off work to take the bus from now on. I don’t know how the airlines determine the seating spacing they use, but I propose a legal requirement for the designers to make several eighteen hour flights in those seats to test their decisions. Economy class seating my ass - I swear it is all part of some big sociological experiment to determine exactly how much abuse we can endure before revolting.