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Computers and Jet Travel: The Big Crunch

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Progress doesn’t always mean comfort. I give you as an example the addition of Wi-Fi to modern jet travel. It is a great advancement for those of us with iPads, tablets, and other small mobile devices, but has brought back the OPCU (or over-sized PC user). This is almost always a man with a computer purchased around the year 1999, probably with AOL email and a mouse that has to be plugged in. If he was in the first class cabin, this would not be a problem, but in coach, where the vast majority of us fly, it causes ‘the crunch’.

‘The crunch’ refers to the lack of space for the person sitting directly behind the OPCU. In order to open his computer to an angle of about 120 degrees with clear line of sight, the OPCU must push his seat as far back as it will go. This gives the person in the crunch position about enough room to set their complimentary soda down.

Now let’s say the person in the crunch seat wants to use their computer; they take out their modern wireless notebook, netbook, or laptop, but they can only open it to about a 45-degree angle with a line of sight of about 10 degrees. This is not conducive to productivity. The OPCU is probably playing solitaire or balancing their checkbook and doesn’t even realize the person behind them doesn’t have room to exhale.

It’s a problem of progress. Forty years ago, jets had plenty of room for people to stretch out, recline their seat back, and even take a nap. No more. Today’s compartment is more like a Japanese Capsule Hotels; you know, those drawers you lie in and they slide you in like one more corpse at the morgue. In 1971, we had plenty of room but no computers; today we have no room and everyone has a computer, even that seven-year-old watching a Disney DVD.

Manners have changed too. Forty years ago people were considerably more considerate when it came to air travel. Since there were no computers, it wasn’t a problem to recline your seat; no one behind you needed enough room to open their laptop. They just needed a place to put their drink.

So here is my simple solution, if you are an OPCU. Look behind you when you sit down and find out if the person behind you is using a computer. If they are, see if you can move laterally one seat (because you are usually sitting next to someone you know). You are responsible to move, if you want to recline your seat back. If not, no problem. Or better yet, put away that OPC, read a magazine, take a nap, or get an iPad!

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About Jerry Guarino

  • Forget using a laptop… I can’t even put my drink down on my tray when the person in front of me has their seat all the way back, because the tray’s too tilted.

    And have you noticed that every flight you take anywhere these days is COMPLETELY FULL? The airlines are running as few flights as they can possibly get away with.

    Hmm, what else can I complain about…?