Friday, February 16, 2007

Cyde Weys Musings: Stuck on a plane for ten hours

In and effort to be fair, I'll also post opinions that don't match my own. I hope he finds out one day how bad it actually can be.

Stuck on a plane for ten hours

During this latest storm in the northeast, passengers were trapped for up to ten hours in planes on the tarmac. JetBlue was really hoping that the weather would clear up enough for that plane to be able to fly, as turning back to the gate loses its place in line to take off, and in all likelihood, would require refunding all of the passengers’ tickets (which ended up happening anyway). But I’m not so interested in the economic aspects of it.

My question is this: in the grand scheme of things, is ten hours inside an airplane on the runway really so bad? Airplane passengers routinely spend much longer than ten hours couped up on airplanes during trans-oceanic flights. Given the choice, and assuming I didn’t have to get anywhere, I’d much rather be couped up in an airplane on the ground rather than in the air. It’s less noisy, there’s fewer vibrations, it’s safer, and if there’s an emergency you have much better chances.

What I’m really seeing parallels with is space travel. I guess most people just aren’t cut out for it, or maybe it takes a bit of training to be able to stand being couped up in small spaces for long times. The space shuttle’s interior space is a bit smaller than a commercial jetliner’s, and the astronauts are stuck in it for two weeks, not just ten hours. The earlier astronauts had it even worse. They couldn’t really even move around in their capsule. They just had to remain seated for the duration of the mission.

So yes, ten hours is inconvenient, but it’s not terrible. I think I last for much longer than that. Especially if I really had to — like, say, in space.

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