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The Future of Flying

Journey at Home Day 46

When I first started traveling by air, planes were thoroughly cleaned in between trips. Over the years, cleanliness deteriorated. The first thing most passengers have been doing over the past 5 or so years is wiping down their seat. It's common to find ground snacks in the rug, dirty items in the seat back, and crud caught in the mechanism of the seat tray. The tray itself is often filty. The magazines look rarely replaced—rat eared and worked over.

Other deterioration has been evident over the years. Seats are more closely spaced. The seat back often has so much literature in it that it takes up two inches of valuable leg room. On long flights, I've stashed the literature in the overhead compartment.

Lately, every airline I've flown with in the past has been sending me messages proclaiming that they will now do thorough cleaning. They are getting back to the basics they used to have. This is great. Southwest told me they will not fill their planes. Their intention is to keep the middle seat free (unless there is a family of three who wants to sit together). This is more good news. I also bet that they'll be changing the cabin air filters much more often. That leg-cramping literature? They have vowed to reduce the paper products in the seat back to reduce germs. It will also give me more leg room.

Air travel, when I do it next, seems on track to becoming more pleasant. Let's hope they keep up the procedures even if a vaccine materializes.

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