Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Counting down until the trip home...

Well, not actually.  But it's coming up pretty soon.  This time the question of travel insurance came up.  I've never bought travel insurance, but my wife felt she needed to.  She's very relieved about having it.  I'm still thinking it over and may wait until we're at the airport to make up my mind.

My first international flight was here to Japan.  Ten years ago.  They say time flies, but it's more accurate to say I do.  Flying is one of my least favorite activities.  It's twelve to thirteen hours of physical discomfort and stale air, plus people are actively rude to you.  And that's if everything goes as planned.  Unplanned alternatives include being stuck inside the plane like a prisoner for half the day while the pilots wait for clearance, or a long mechanical delay or-- worst case-- a falling-leaf pattern tumble from 35,000 feet into the Pacific, lost without a trace.

Yesterday one of my conversation class students asked me about air pockets.  Some of our senior high kids are going to the UK for a three-week homestay and I've been helping them with their English.  The flight is on some of their minds now, though.  It's like standing in line for a roller coaster.  The anticipation is tinged with just a bit of fear.  He said something about zero gravity.

Now there's something to think about.  I once experienced about fifteen minutes of violent turbulence (violent to my mind, anyway) over Canada.  The plane shook and vibrated and we passengers rattled around like the last few peanuts in the can.  While the person next to me seemed perfectly relaxed, my imagination-- honed from years of flaming pseudo-death in various flight simulator games and a love for books documentaries about aviation history and airline disasters-- had me clutching the seatback in front of me in a white-fingered grip.  Well, at least until the flight attendant asked me to secure the runaway cart she couldn't reach from her jumper seat where she was strapped in for relative safety.  It's nice not to fall to the cabin floor, so much less effective in preventing your descent to the ocean's.  Eventually the pilots announced they were changing altitude and things smoothed out.

But no, I told the concerned student, I've never experienced an air pocket.  Have you?  No, he replied, but a friend of his did and it made quite an impression.  Like stepping into a hole or falling off a trampoline and landing flat on your back in the grass.

Travel insurance won't prevent accident or illness, unless you're into magical thinking.  But I do think it's a good idea.  If knowing we're covered financially even in the event of food poisoning helps my wife hop on the plane with a smile on her face, then I'm all for it.

No comments: