I’m typing from seat 3A aboard Southwest Flight 616. It’s a direct, as opposed to non-stop, flight from West Palm Beach to Hartford via Baltimore. All the passengers, save four, thought Baltimore was far enough.
This afternoon I couldn’t help but think of my first commercial flight. It was on a Lockheed Electra L188, a second section flight on the Eastern Shuttle¹. I was on my way to a college interview in Boston. That was 40 years ago. A lot has changed in flying.
Back then I could have asked to see the cockpit without being arrested.
I remember looking out the window during that flight, much as I looked out the window on this one. I was fascinated by the countryside of Connecticut and Rhode Island as we flew from LaGuardia to Logan. Today I was fascinated by the clouds that floated above Florida and the adjacent Atlantic.
We headed pretty far east before heading north today. The pilot did a good job avoiding the towering thunderheads. I wonder if anyone else on board knew how bumpy it might have been?
I don’t remember the flight attendants from that first trip, though they probably would have been puzzled by the term “flight attendant.” They were stewardesses, mainly young, probably pretty. To me, a seventeen year old unaccustomed to any of their world, they were glamorous and sophisticated.
None of my flights for this trip have been full. From what I read, that’s unusual. No one sat in the middle seat between me and the strangers with whom I’ve shared the row. Nowadays, that’s a luxury.
Being an early boarder from Southwest’s Group “A”, I had my my choice of seats. On the way down it was on the aisle. Now I’m at the left window, chosen for its access to a view of sunset. I try to sit forward of the wing, where first class is on other airlines, the better to snap a few shots.
I watched a PHP tutorial video on the computer, ate an unbelievably expensive sandwich I bought in the terminal, took some photos, loosened, then removed, my sneakers and fidgeted. Helaine should be glad she wasn’t here. My fidgeting would have driven her nuts.
I just looked down to see a dense lattice of streets. I didn’t recognize it at first, but it was Brooklyn. In the distance, Manhattan was underwhelming. I made it out by its shape more than its lights.
I did catch the lights from Shea Stadium and the Tennis Center, but mostly everything under me is nondescript. Anything I recognize from here in will be because I’ve lived there.
I’ll be flying this route again Wednesday. This trip was a last minute deal because of my dad’s hospitalization. Next week it’s my mom’s birthday.
Actually, this turned out to be a pleasure trip, didn’t it?
¹ – Back then, if the plane was filled, another would be rolled out for the remaining passengers. Though the scheduled flight was on a jet, an old prop plane served as the backup.