Thursday, August 10, 2006


Can I handle the cabin pressure?

My best scenic flyovers into New York City have come on flights into LaGuardia Airport. I guess this stands to reason, geographically. The best time was several years ago. On a clear evening, we flew right over Manhattan, eastward, seemingly along 125th Street. I was on the downtown side of the aircraft, and could look down each avenue as we passed, the buildings reddened by the sun setting behind us.

B and I flew into Laguardia Wednesday night, and this was a (distant) second best to that other magical flight. As we swooped over Queens at night, the lights of this urban suburb glittered fetchingly as though they were placed specifcally to set off Shea Stadium, floodlit for a game in progress. We could almost see Billy Wagner sealing the 3-2 win over the Padres in the ninth. Or so I imagined.

The scenic beauty almost, but not quite, offset my intense physical discomfort. The non-stop flight, which had made me feel so triumphant when I booked it – there are so few from the regional airport serving My Smallish Midwestern City – was now giving me what felt like an aneurysm. The down side of the non-stop flight is that we must take a very small aircraft, operated by American Airline’s dinky “partner” American Eagle.

Are they cutting back on cabin pressurization as a cost saving measure? I’ve never felt anything like this before – a scary and painful feeling of pressure in my head, eyeball and sinuses, combined with an itch in my nose that made me sneeze several times in a row. (When I sneeze, it’s normally two or three and out.) Interestingly, a few other passengers were also sneezing – I don’t think it was just me.

This went on for the whole 20 minutes of descent, and I am not looking forward to the return trip. What the hell is going on?

Oh gosh, you're one of those snobs who thinks that only Manhattan is "the city." Well how's THIS for "the city":
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