A photo that manages to make Economy Class look spacious. Disclaimer: the contents in this photo may, in reality, be smaller and more cramped than they appear–especially if you’re in the middle seat.

Chronicles of Economy Class

A slice of my life: narrative style.

For our first adventure, the goal is trying to survive the journey.

You don’t suffer from claustrophobia. This is what I mutter to myself as I shuffle through the narrow aisle of the airplane, feeling the walls closing in. My overfilled silver carry-on was certified to fit in the overhead, but clearly no research had been done to ensure that it wouldn’t hit people as I made my way to my seat. I mutter apologies under my breath, becoming increasingly sweaty and desperate to find my seat; unfortunately, as usual, I am in one of the last rows of the plane.

I glance over at the parents cooing at their baby in their gigantic, first class seats. The family was, of course, already comfortably seated, luggage stowed away. They were blessed with the chance to board earlier than other passengers, and had snagged the best seats on the flight. The baby stares smugly at me and my suitcase. It’s like the kid knows I only bought the bag because there was a sale at Costco. An air attendant’s voice booms over my head; the flight was booked to capacity, meaning that my chances of being moved next to that lucky baby was approximately zero.

As I cross the emergency exit row, I notice empty space in the overhead. A glorious stretch of space, destined to hold my suitcase. I prepare myself to haul my suitcase over my shoulder into the overhead shelf. Unfortunately, I have the arms of a rag doll. I can barely lift my suitcase past my waist, let alone throw it above me. I pull at my stupid, glorified duffel bag, losing layers of my pride with each tug. I should have gone to that weight training class at the gym.Who am I kidding, I could barely lift the bar by itself. I can feel eyes rolling at me and impatient muttering. I consider leaving the flight. I glance around pathetically, resorting to search for a saviour with incredible arm strength. The flight attendent squeezes through the aisle to save me. She lifts my suitcase with one arm and stows it away in less than a minute. You go, girl. I whisper a mortified thank you and continue making my way to the back of the plane with my head down. I really need to start lifting.

At last, I reach my seat. I don’t even care that it’s a middle seat anymore–my concern faded a couple rows back when I exposed myself as the weak, noodle-armed peasant that I am. In the aisle seat is a balding, middle-aged man in a suit, wearing a surly expression that said ‘I booked my tickets late but I was born a first-class flyer.’ He gets out of his seat to let me through…a gentlemen at heart? Okay, maybe I misjudged him. I swallow my thoughts as the man then proceeds to lean onto his right armrest–aka MY left armrest–with his elbow jutting into the side of my arm. I scoot closer to the person on my right, a woman with curly blonde hair. She’s fast asleep against the window, her thick hair probably muffling the hum of the plane, swaddled in a blanket that seems to be made out of clouds. She made herself a luxury experience. I bitterly reflect on my decision to forgo the plush, polka-dotted neck pillow I had seen in the airport giftshop. Luckily, the monotone voice of the flight attendant–yes, the one with the arms of steel–soon puts me in a blissful sleep.

Yeah, I wish the story ended there, peacefully. But half an hour into my wonderful nap, I woke up to shrill screaming near the front of the plane. The baby apparently was not a fan of first-class flying.

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