Air Fenway


I wedged myself into the tiny seat. My knees were jammed into the back of the chair in front of me. No room for a Knee Defender. But I considered myself lucky – at least I had an aisle seat.

People were standing up to food and drinks. Every now and then, an attendant would scoot down the aisles with snacks.

Watching the show was almost impossible. It was miserable. Only two hours to go. Then someone walking up the aisle hit my elbow knocking my beer all over my leg and down into my shoes. No apology. Just a grunt.

The space in front of me where my feet could go for a minimal stretch slowly filled with papers. Then the person sitting across the aisle from me dropped a half-full drink into the aisle splashing my other leg with some kind of cola.

I couldn’t believe my situation. Cheap Charlie couldn’t even get a discount ticket. I had to walk right to the ticket office and pay the full fare.

No, I wasn’t sitting in the back of a packed Northwest DC10 on a transatlantic flight. And this wasn’t some flight from hell.

Instead, I was having a “great time” at Boston’s Fenway Park, sitting about ten yards from the left field line. This is “America’s Favorite Ballpark” and the oldest.

And I was lucky. Very lucky. I had a seat. And, thank the Lord for good favors, not behind a post.

Thousands of fans were lamenting the fact that they couldn’t be there for the good times. The sun was shining. Everyone was smiling. No one complained, except me – to my girlfriend – when about six ounces of beer ran down my leg.

I don’t know why, but my thoughts went back to a column that I once wrote about airline seats. I noted that the airlines didn’t even give modern-day passengers as much space as was once the law for prisoners being shipped to Australia.

I know there must have been other times that I wailed about inhuman conditions in which we were forced to travel.

I take it all back. Give me a middle seat on a transcontinental flight. I’ll even take the cramped seats that don’t recline. But don’t make me sit for three hours at Fenway Park.

Everything about the airline seats is better than sitting cramped at the baseball park.

To start with, the airline seats are, for the most part, air conditioned. And then there is the food.

You heard it here first. Airline food is clearly better. The peanuts are normally free. The food, even if you have to buy it, is far better than the nonstop selection of Fenway Franks, pretzels, Crackerjack and Italian Ice.

The bathrooms are cleaner. The seats recline. Flight attendants keep the plane clean. You don’t have to walk to the back of the plane to get a beer. The airlines normally don’t cut you off from drinks after 80 percent of the time in the air.

Your chance of seeing some of the show if you purchase headsets on an airplane is far better than your chance of seeing the action at many ballparks. At Fenway, I missed every hit for the first three innings because a vendor selling hotdogs, peanuts, Crackerjacks, ice cream bars or Italian ice, blocked my view.

Heck, I could have paid less, sat for the same three hours in far more comfort, and gotten off the plane in Florida. Probably, my pants would have been dry. And hairy, barebacked, belching, inebriated fans probably wouldn’t have surrounded me.

Fenway isn’t a bad place to be. It just shows how little comfort means when someone feels entertained. I have seen pictures of football fans digging out their seats from under four feet of snow without a complaint.

I have written about Virgin Atlantic’s wonderful entertainment system that has eliminated any complaints from those in tourist class about the seating. In fact, when given a choice between sitting in a middle seat in tourist class with the Virgin entertainment system or having lots of legroom, but no entertainment system, virtually every Virgin passenger will opt for limited quarters with limitless entertainment.

Personally, my concern with the plight of travelers has cooled. If people really want to get from Point A to Point B, they can deal with cramped seats. I, for one, am going to stop complaining.

However, I’ll still try to get an exit-row or bulkhead seat whenever I fly, and watch my Red Sox games from the comfort of my sofa.