an open letter to delta airlines

Dear Delta,

I’ve flown on one of your planes several times over the years, since they tend to be the cheapest flights out of Salt Lake City. After spending over three hours on a plane to Atlanta, and then nearly nine on a plane to London, this past weekend, I feel it’s time for me to bring your attention to an issue that you may not have noticed before now. That is, NOT EVERY FUCKING PERSON ON THE PLANE IS UNDER SIX FEET TALL.

You may be asking yourself, “why would the height of our passengers matter?” This, of course, is the kind of question asked by someone who flies first class whenever they travel, or is 5’6″ tall. The answer to that question is as follows. First, of the six and a half feet that make up my total height, my legs are over three feet. That means that I physically cannot sit with my knees forward, particularly when the tiny little lady in front of me slams her seat back all the way, fifteen minutes into a nine hour flight. I have to cross my legs, or sit with them wide apart (thus pissing off the person next to me), or stick my feet out in the aisles (thus ensuring that I have to quickly and awkwardly readjust my seating position when the food cart comes along). The third option would almost be acceptable, were it not for the fact that the armrest on the outside of the row does not go up, and so if I attempt to stick my legs out that way, my inside leg is jammed against the side of the seat in front of me and my outside leg has the circulation cut off.

Secondly, the tray tables are problematic. If my legs are anywhere near a forward position, the tray table hits my knees long before it reaches anything resembling a flat surface. Were I to attempt to put my food on this upwardly slanted tray, it would slide off and ruin every copy of Skymall in the row. This problem is again exacerbated by short people who insist on leaning their seats all the way back. Generally I am able to make the tray table flat by curling my feet all the way back underneath my seat; I can usually stand this long enough to finish the meal.

Third, I have no headrest. I brought a travel pillow along this time in the hopes that it would allow me to sleep during the flight. No such luck. Even with the pillow, leaning my head back results in my head being perpendicular to my body, not the most relaxing of positions.

These three things combined on my last flight to make it utterly impossible to sleep, despite my thorough exhaustion. I think I managed about 45 minutes of unconsciousness, in five or so minute blocks, throughout the entire flight. As a result, I almost missed my bus connection at the airport (since I was sleeping bent over with my head resting on my luggage), and I slept until 4:00 pm the following day, which certainly has not helped me adjust to the time difference.

I really have no other complaints about the airline. I can take crappy movies, because I have books and music, and I have no problem with the food–I know it’s difficult to mass produce a reheatable meal that doesn’t taste like crap, and all in all you’ve done a pretty good job. If you could just take out maybe five rows of seats from every plane, and divide up the extra space for a few inches more of leg room, that’d be enough. Or maybe prioritize seating in the exit rows based on height. Something. But please, for the love of God, don’t ask me to cramp myself up like a goddamn contortionist sardine just so that I can make a fucking flight. Thanks.



One Thought on “an open letter to delta airlines”

  1. Nick,
    I know EXACTLY how you feel. I often take American Airlines to go to Miami and I don’t think they realize that tall people exist out there. Ouch, my kneecaps hurt just thinking about it.

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