I've been flying with you for over 30 years. Since I was eight years old, I flew Delta back when it was Western Airlines. My grandma always booked the seats in the bulkhead and would take me with her to Las Vegas. My mom and dad took us to Hawaii with frequent flyer miles. When I left for college, I flew Delta back and forth from Portland to Salt Lake. I could lie across a row of seats. Once the wheels didn't come down and that was scary but it was nothing compared to flying with you these days. I’m scared for my life because turbulence is getting worse with climate change and I am scared for my life because I read the article about low-cost maintenance plans used for most aircraft and I’m scared for my life because of the pilots salaries you continue to cut and the occasional pilot who goes nuts and crashes the plane into the mountain. I am not so scared of terrorists but I am scared of TSA. I’m scared for my life because the captain rarely turns off the “fasten your seatbelt” sign and my bladder is going to explode bacteria throughout my body and I’ll go septic.
I also fear the psychological ramifications of flying with you. I do not blame you for the baby screaming. I don’t even blame the baby. The baby just vocalizes what we all feel on the inside: the understanding that catapulting the body 500 mph, 30,000 feet in the air is unnatural. It's not so much the dying, I don't think, as the falling. Who wants to watch the ground rise up to meet them at force times mass? Although flying is a million times safer than driving, we’re spending our karmic luck here, holding the plane up with our panicked, though mostly silent thoughts. The baby hasn’t learned that it’s silence that buoys airplane culture as well as airlines. I do hold you accountable though for the catatonic state I will be sent into from the claustrophobia. The taste of the seat in front of me because I didn't pony up for "comfort" seats on the way home was bitter--maybe a little mildewy. Cotton in the mouth goes well with the pretzels we were offered to make up for being an hour late.
Still, that wasn't your fault. I presume the air traffic controllers in Iceland put Delta at the back of the take off order because you won't pay to dock at the airport. We took a bus from the terminal to the plane. We walked up stairs in cold Icelandic rain and wind to board. If only I were a little older this would harken back to times long gone--romantic times when planes took off when they said they would and the seats weren't deemed edible.
How sad I was to see so many seats in first class empty. The one percenters must have been busy raping and pillaging to leave those seats so open. In days past, because I was a loyal (over 30 years!) customer, I might have been offered an upgraded seat. But these days, my class of ticket says strictly: back by the toilets with you!
On this trip, you changed my itinerary 3 times. You booked me so I had an additional stop in Detroit. On the way there, I had to leave at 4:30 a.m. to make it to the airport when before I had bought a ticket that would let me leave at 7:30 in the morning, that would let me take my kids to school, that would have let my kids sleep next to me one more night.
Oh Delta, how I once loved to fly. How I always argued that you were at least better than the others. But, with the bitter taste of blue nylon still in my mouth, my knees bruised from the back of seats, my blood pressure permanently increased from the running from customs back through security past three terminals down 45 gates to catch my almost-departing plane, I fear I cannot argue that at least you are better than the others any longer.