In This Economy…


HA. This is not about the economy. It’s about flying Economy. 3al Libnené.

Assuming that luck has not been on your side [ a) you were not upgraded b) there are lots of babies on board c) there are no empty seats near you d) you got no spare pillows and you’re caged in a non-window non-aisle seat surrounded by people with whom you share no common language], then let this be known: you are not alone in your struggle. Others have been there too.

Before boarding, you will have to say bye to your departure-team of peeps who will preach about the airport being a metaphor for life; people coming & going and there being a sacred bond between those you see around you saying goodbyes and others being reunited with those that were temporarily lost to them as they were suspended in the air. Yes, my team is my parents and it is all morbid and profound.

Immigration control at the Beirut Airport is like watching MBC dramas without subtitles – you can create your own stories. In the line for “foreigners”, travelers with non-Lebanese passports, there’s a bunch of dual-nationality Lebanese people with 3 purebred white Americans. Everyone in this line is wearing sneakers and there’s at least one guy with a fanny pack (banana hammock). Two very Arab looking men with no luggage, who you will automatically nickname The Osamas, will be discussing their kids’ Australian tuition while you wonder where they’re keeping all their travel gear. One Osama only has a neck cushion and the other is just wearing this military khaki vest. He opens said utility vest to reveal multiple pockets and you’re like “ohhhh, note to self, tell Air Marshal.” Another victim of the media’s effective brainwashing. Your racial profiling dudes who could basically be your own dad. The 3 legit foreigners turn out to be 1 French man who has no patience for this merde, and 2 Americans who happen to be from the same town. Or at least that’s what the guy said to get the girl talking, “NO WAY, Bayford Junction?”  The Lebanese-passport line is a bunch of Pointure boots attached to entities with chronic bitchface.

After being delayed because of some “mechanical issues” – oh, that’s comforting – you’re nice and snug in the seat that might as well be a glorified barstool. You’re in for a real treat; you can watch the plane take-off because they’ve got cameras installed on the belly of the aircraft. How nifty technology can be. These kids from Melbourne are bouncing around behind you with their adorable little accents that make a destination sound like an endangered species from down under. Or a house elf. “Mummay, are we going to stawp in the eyre above Aboo Dahby?” As it turns out, they’re watching the take-off too and no, you’re not eavesdropping because it’s Economy, everyone just has one big conversation. Since you’re taking off at midnight and the resolution is worse than a Skype call on dial-up, there’s not much to see but you stare at the runway lights that melt into stars.

“Look mum, it’s granddad.” “Yeah we’re a bit closer to him now.” 
Oh, bloody hell now you’re tearing. Everyone’s a poet.

A selection of 97 movies with classics including Dial M for Murder, Roman Holiday, and a bunch of stuff from Bollywood- but you will scroll through them all, save one for later, and still manage to go “meh, I’ll just watch Friends again.” Just goes to show, people will never be satisfied.

What a cute menu! Oh you’re having the fish with a side salade Chinois, assorted cheeses & crackers, and mango cheesecake? Look, unless you’re in First Class, the chicken tastes like the fish and the fish tastes like the chicken, that other stuff is what they decorate entrees with in real restaurants, and you know that cheesecake came out of a can. BYOB: bring your own buffet. Just don’t pack it in the…

Carry-on in the overhead compartment. Because everyone placed the equivalent of a mid-sized sedan trunkful in your little designated spot, you had to jam your Swiss carry-on 5 rows down. Not only can you not get to your bag easily during the flight but you also have to wait for everyone to disembark the aircraft when you want to leave because no one is going to let you go backwards down the aisle when they want to GTFO. Sit tight because that bought you an extra 45 minutes in the same position.

Eight hours of pure nothingness pass. Time gets screwed when you’re up in the air. First, there’s “airplane eternity sleep”. Remember that time you woke up after a night out and you were like “LOL it’s 3 pm, so what’s for lunch?” It’s like that, only you didn’t sleep 14 hours, you’re still flying over India, and that armrest has nudged itself into your back again. Where’s that damn pillow? Then, the last 3 minutes of a flight are in microwave minutes: it’s just like when you’re heating up a plate of leftover Szechuan chicken and the last 15 seconds go slower than the first 120 just because appliances are secretly evil. You will trudge out in your sweatpants looking like you rolled out of a tapestry without the effortless sex appeal of Cleopatra. You’re a frumpy mess that’s 3 hairbrush-strokes away from Mufasa. You will search for a normal sized bathroom stall that doesn’t smell of humans and Detol. You will spend the next week possibly jet-lagged and groggy.

And you can’t wait to do it all over again.

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