I am at home today getting ready to go to Doha tonight, where I will meet colleagues to work on our strategy paper. I am unenthusiastic about the journey. It is something like 16 hours on Qatar Airlines in an economy class middle seat. It is officially a United flight, so I hoped that I could use my United miles to upgrade, but this is evidently not possible with a code share like this.
I don’t have many complaints about flying and I think that all that gnashing of teeth about passengers’ bills of rights is exaggerated. Travel sucks by its very nature. You just have to get used to it. Most of us (me too) are unwilling to pay extra for business class seats, so we get stuck in the cattle car class. In other words, we get what we pay for. It will be an ordeal.
Many people think diplomats travel first class. No, our government is not that generous. We fly economy unless we upgrade ourselves. They used to have a rule that we could fly business class if we had to be on the plane for more than fourteen hours. No more, except if you can claim that you have to go to work immediately on landing or you can assert a credible disability. Being too tall to fit comfortably in the seats doesn’t qualify.
I sat next to a fat guy on my last trip home. He wanted to put up the arm rest so that he could flow into my seat too. He complained about the injustice of air travel when I told him no. Being fat is increasingly being classified as a disability. A Canadian court has ruled that airlines have to give a free extra seat to the will-power challenged among us. By that logic, they should have to give more leg room to anybody over 5’10” tall, maybe extra luggage space to those who just have to bring along more stuff than they can use. Maybe a passenger bill of rights would handle all these permutations and produce a kind of Malthusian solution. If we do it completely, it will drive the price of flying so high that almost nobody will be able to afford to fly anyway and it will be pleasant for the survivors.
I don’t think Doha will be much fun. We have to stay in the camp the whole time. They say that there is a running trail around the camp that is around 3.5 miles. The nice thing re Al Asad was that the base was big. There was not much variety, but it spread over twenty-two square mile and I had more space than I could run over. 3.5 miles is actually enough for most of my runs these days, but the idea that there is no more bothers me. I like to know I could go farther if the spirit moved me. I can take the limited horizons for two weeks. I hear that they have a pool in Doha. It is like a holiday camp. That is the way I am taking it. The weather should be nice this time of year.