When I tell people that I hate to fly, they typically nod in agreement. “The seats are so small and cramped,” they’ll say, or “Security is such a hassle.” But none of those things bothers me. In fact, I’d rather stand in a five-hour security line than take a 45-minute flight to Chicago. Because despite the fact that the chances of dying in a plane crash are about 1 in 11 million, I’m convinced I’ll be that one—that I’m tempting fate every time I step onto one of those rickety old deathtraps. (The planes that transport me from point A to point B always seem to be one piece of duct tape away from disaster. I never like the cuts of their jibs.)
So you can imagine my bemusement when I came across an article on mentalfloss.com called “This Airplane Seat Knows When You’re Nervous.” Does it, now? Does it really? And, more importantly, what’s it going to do about it? Drop a mask down from the ceiling supplying nitrous oxide? Cue the TV screen in front of me to begin a slideshow depicting aviation safety statistics? Alert a stewardess to stop by pronto with a 4:1 ratio of rum and coke?
Not exactly. Apparently these new, state-of-the-art seats contain sensors that read one’s heart’s electrical impulses and collect this data into an app called Flightbeat. So when my unnaturally high heartbeat registers, flight attendants are supposed to take note that I may be “uncomfortable” and—I swear this is what the article says—“drop by with a glass of water or a blanket to provide some support.”
I’m sorry, but a glass of water and a blanket aren’t going to help when I’m *this* far away from becoming William Shatner (or John Lithgow, if you prefer the movie) in that “Twilight Zone” episode with the gremlin on the plane. You want to help me? Lose the water and the blanket and provide me, instead, with continuous, “This turbulence is completely normal, and this plane is definitely not crashing” updates. Every 3–5 minutes should suffice, with more frequent assurances upon any “fasten seat belt” indicators or unexpected turbulence.
Honestly, I don’t think these seats are even necessary, as you can typically spot uncomfortable travelers by our claw-like grips on the armrests; the way, upon the first sign of turbulence, we recoil and invade fellow passengers’ personal space (twice I’ve held strangers’ hands, and I’m not a big hand-holder by nature); or the way we stare, part mournfully, part terrified, out the window at the world below. You can also tell by our companions on these sure-to-be-ill-fated flights who—in the case of my poor husband—appear exhausted (because I won’t let him sleep) and slightly irritated that his valiant attempts at humor go unappreciated. (In other circumstances, hearing Steve tell me that I’d better save my work because we’re “in the cloud” would be funny.)
So to recap:
- Driving, good. Flying, bad.
- Seat sensors are unnecessary.
- Do not, under any circumstances, approach me with water and a blanket while I’m monitoring the plane’s wing and listening for sounds that may indicate our impending doom. Can’t you see I’m busy?
What about you? Do you enjoy flying? Why or why not? Have you ever sat next to someone like me? If so, how did you handle it? I’m sure Steve would appreciate your insights.
*Chosen because of its opening lyric: “This plane is definitely crashing!” Not a good choice for the airplane playlist.