For the most part, I like the American Airlines A321. It’s a pretty cool plane. If you’re lucky enough to snag an upgrade or award seat to find yourself in business or first class for the long haul flight, you’re pretty damn lucky. Free alcohol.
Then there’s the subpar food but hey, at least it’s FREE subpar food!
You have a HUGE 15 inch monitor to enjoy a ton of movies and TV shows. Oh yeah, and your seat turns into a skybed, my favorite reason to ever fly in business or first class and something that until recently, wasn’t really much of a thing for any sort of domestic flight.
But the plane, as I found last week, has it’s drawbacks. The economy is subpar, and not just because they offer little to no free programming on the TVs they placed in their seats. I mean really, $6-$8 for a movie, and the only free programming is that stupid NBC Universal loop.
American, catch up to Delta (hard words to utter) and offer more free programming. But the biggest reason I’m no fan of the A321 is this: In the course of two flights, I lost my iPad and almost lost my iPhone. But is this really the fault of the plane? As is often the case in life, yes and no.
My iPad was on it’s way to the electronics graveyard anyway. It was old and if you’re a fan of conspiracy theories, had reached that point where Apple deliberately was making it operate slow and clunky in order to entice me to buy a new iPad Air 2. But I was determined to use it to the bitter end. I’d deleted most non-essential apps, and was primarily using it for emails, web surfing, and drilling out multiple blogs on long flights. This is the last time I ever saw my iPad:
I was musing to myself how pathetic the seat storage was in economy on the new(ish) American Airlines Airbus A320. Because here’s the deal when it comes to utilizing seat storage: I am usually an all or nothing kind of guy. On most planes, the storage in the seat in front of you is generous enough to put a few items in it. But on this A321, the seat was able to fit my iPad but to add anything else (even a newspaper) was too much, and I couldn’t stretch the netting enough to make it work. When the flight landed, I was in a sleepy haze (lesson to learn: 6 am flights should be illegal and you should protest their existence by not flying them). I walked off the plane and into the wonderful winter wonderland that is JFK in January. Only hours later did it hit me: I left my iPad in that stupid seat storage. I called American, called JFK, I even called SFO where the plane flew to next and all to no avail. My dear old iPad has either gone to it’s rest, or into the waiting arms of someone who hasn’t yet realized how inadequate my old iPad truly is.
So on the flight home, I was relieved that we were flying business class. No need to battle for storage there I thought. The plane took off and when the seat belt sign turned off, I got up to go to the bathroom, leaving my phone on the HUGE center console between Laura and I. When I got back, my phone was gone. “Did you move my phone?” I somewhat anxiously asked Laura. She said she had not. We searched the floor, the seat, and everywhere in between (bathroom included) and no luck. By now, I was a nervous wreck, and Laura remained cool. “The technology Gods are out to get me” I panicked and Laura provided a sound rational response to my craziness: “You or I have been seated here the whole time, the phone is somewhere here.” True. But still paranoia won: “What the hell did I do to Apple to deserve this fate?” I responded as Laura rolled her eyes and probably lofted her own prayers to the sky for some sort of rational thought to overtake her anxious husband. After ten minutes of searching, we decided to recline the seat to see if somehow it got hidden in the comfy excess padding of the seat. Business class seats recline by the touch of a button, and so I pushed the button and waited for it to recline when suddenly we heard it: Grind, crunch, crunch, crack. My phone, it appeared, had found it’s way into the electronic part of the seat. A helpful flight attendant came by and helped me rip the seat cushion off and search for my phone. How he found it, I will never know, but find it he did: Firmly secured in between a couple bolts.
For several minutes we tried to wrestle the phone out, but it had nestled itself firmly into the awkward confines of this seat. At last, we realized the moment for what it was: One way or the other, we had to move the seat. Move it the right way, and that space would expand and we’d be able to push my phone out. Move it the wrong way and the phone, already straining and in a fragile state, would be crushed. Exhale, apology to technology Gods, pleading for forgiveness, and I pushed the button. To my relief, we chose correctly and the space widened and I retrieved my phone. We saw the crack on the screen and feared for the worst.
But as it turns out, we dodged a bullet. The cracking and crunching noise was real, but the damage was surprisingly minimal: The screen protector got scratched and ripped, but the screen is in surprisingly perfect condition. My case suffered chips and cracks, but protected the phone.
So is the plane to blame for this? In life, I often revert to a simple philosophy that more often than not seems to be true: It took me doing something dumb or irresponsible for other negative forces to come into play. The plane didn’t exactly eat my iPad or iPhone, even though it sure as hell feels like it did. No, space complaints aside, at the end of the day, I left my iPad on that airplane like a forgetful fool and I was careless with my iPhone. So the lessons learned are pretty simple:
1. Don’t take stuff out of your bag unless you need to. That’s for people like me who are forgetful and who don’t want to beat themselves up for a week about how reckless they were. If the storage sucks, minimize your use of it.
2. Space is a good thing, until it’s not. I complained about not having enough space as a culprit for losing my iPad, and then when I had too much space I almost lost my iPhone. But fear not, I’ll take the risk of all that extra space and flying business class any day. I know, I’m brave as hell.
3. Don’t take 6 am flights, like ever. Seriously, you do foolish things on these flights you wouldn’t do on a later flight. Why, because you’re dead tired. Any flight departing before 6 am is a trap of some negative forces. Oversleeping an alarm, leaving stuff on planes, drooling on the shoulder of a stranger while you are sleeping, etc…
But here’s the most surprising lesson learned: Life has been pretty nice without my iPad. That’s not to say I won’t get a new tablet soon, I will (unless someone wants to return my old iPad to me of course). But I’m trying to learn what I can from this unintended loss, and I find myself enjoying an iPad free existence, even if only for a little while. Rather than read articles at night on a bright screen before I go to bed, I’m reading books again, real books. I am utilizing my laptop more appropriately and overall just spending less time on technology. So I guess the final lesson falls into that “when life throws you lemons make lemonade category”: When bad things happen, seek out the good or the lessons to be learned. You won’t be sorry that you do.
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