from April 15, 2004
A recent trip across the Atlantic, or, as we veteran fliers dub it, the Pond, was the occasion for my latest “aha” experience.
I was flying from Large Southwestern City, which hosts the illustrious Round Table at Hôtel Adios, to my native city of Dublin, on a flesh carrier the identity of which I shall desist from naming.
The sun set as our jumbo jet took off from JFK, filled with fellow Irish passengers on their annual pilgrimage to the homeland.
We were one hour into the flight when the bombshell of my idea hit.
But allow me a digression to provide background. On my frequent trips abroad, I make it a point never to take reading material. Nor am I enthralled by the television fare such overnight flights commonly proffer. I merely sit. An occasional thought flows through my usually-teeming brain. Between trips to the rest room I attempt, if not to sleep, at least to nap. “Attempt” is le mot just; I am seldom, if ever, successful.
The frequent flier will recognize the anguish of this ordeal.
But to the bombshell. My rising irritation with this ordeal led me to consider the possibility of a logical panacea. Glancing around the section of the cabin in which I and my fellow-travelers were temporarily and rudely ensconced (Ed. Note: Why not go with “imprisoned”? Keep in mind your audience.), I did a quick calculation of the number of persons (NP), following this with an educated guess of the cubic footage the average person occupies (CFAPO). I then multiplied the two (NP x CFAPO). After performing these simple exercises, into the details of which I will not wander, I strode carefully down the aisle of my section of the cabin, discovering by this method the length of said section (LSS). Then I reached for the ceiling and was able to determine the heighth of said section (HSS), both at its apex (A) and lowest point (LP). I subsequently estimated the width of the cabin section (WCS). In this way I was able to calculate the approximate cubic footage of the cabin (CFC).
The rest of my computation consisted of dividing (NP x CFAPO) into (CFC). “Aha,” I then proceeded to tell myself, “the resulting number (X)” (I will not give the value of X; one must take into account the fact that different aircraft will yield different X’s) “is of a much higher order than is necessary for humane trans-oceanic flight.”
To put this insight into the language of the common layperson: There’s more room in a jumbo jet than you thought.
The corollary of this well-considered axiom is that, with proper design, the bodies flying about the friendly skies in a plane can be made more comfortable. Or, to be more specific, there is no reason an ordinary person in coach class can’t get a good night’s sleep while hopping over an ocean.
While in Dublin, I, like Mary before me, pondered these things in my heart.