I recently flew Boeing’s Dreamliner to Israel. The name sounds romantic, doesn’t it? It conjures up visions of comfort and luxury. Fourteen non-stop hours zooming through rainbows and clouds tinged with sunset.
Let me tell you, the Dreamliner is no dream. It must have been a name the design team dreamed up in a space capsule at Disney World.
It might fly like a dream for the pilots, but if you’re in economy class, look out, you’re in for a delusion.
The seats are made of plastic, they’re narrow and uncomfortable. When you pile in 242 passengers, it feels like a flying sardine can.
The wingspan is impressive. It’s almost 198 feet. It sports two enormous Rolls Royce engines. They’re noisy.
There are no shades on the windows. At the press of a button the window dims from light to dark. Magic glass. I wonder what it’s doing to my health.
The flight map is in twelve languages with Arabic getting more prime time than all the others.
My seat mates, both women, put on headsets and fell asleep almost immediately, holding me hostage by the window. The middle seat woman maneuvered herself into a fetal position with legs protruding into my limited space. I had to pour her back into her area.
The toilet lid hit my back as I sat down, flushing every two minutes with that scary sucking sound. I thought my insides would fall out.
The in-flight entertainment was lousy. No good TV shows. The movies were old. I couldn’t find the music stations. Probably weren’t any because people come plugged in these days.
There were four pilots taking shifts flying this metal cylinder at 558 miles an hour through space. The sun at this altitude was neon green and reflecting off the wing and streaming into the window making me look like Shrek. Or maybe it was the plastic tinted window that did that. It was so hot you could have cooked potato pancakes on it.
There were eight flight attendants. Three men and five women. Big people, older. No nonsense. They were probably undercover Mossad.
I gave one of them a bag of treats and thanked him for serving us and got a lukewarm response. He was probably suspicious of the contents.
I finally woke up the two sleeping beauties and walked to the back of the plane for a stretch and a bathroom break. In front of the galley a rabbi shrouded in prayer shawl regalia was praying like men do at the Western Wall. Then a group of young Israelis came looking for food and drinks. Two Jewish mamas came in next inspecting the trays of sandwiches in the same manner as in their own kitchens.
There was also a slew of pre-orders of kosher, vegetarian, you name it food trays. Flight attendants walked up and down the aisles with flashlights in search of the right passenger in the correct seat in a darkened plane.
I walked to another section where I met two women from Cincinnati who had been up for more than 24-hours. Their flight from Cincinnati to New Jersey to Tel Aviv was cancelled, so they were re-routed to Denver, then San Francisco to catch this flight. They were delirious.
An hour out, we were instructed to stay in our seats until we landed. This was Israeli law. All the men lined up to the bathroom.
Thirty minutes before landing, as I looked out the window, there were no outside lights on the plane. I wondered if that was Israeli law, too. That we must land in a shroud of darkness like a bat.
Calvin says, “Any dogs in the cabin? We could have been given a crew bed to chew our kosher chicken bones there.”