Today’s columnist, Mike Tuck: Tall tale of a weary traveller

Mike Tuck
Mike Tuck
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It’s that time of year again… 
After a nine-month season of basketball with the Sharks, I am heading back to my homeland of Canada to see family and friends.

One problem; flights to Toronto last around seven hours and when you’re my height, flying economy is a nightmare.

With ever-rising prices, fuller and fuller flights and no sympathy towards the genetically elongated from the airlines, I have had to come to terms with being as crammed as an oversized sardine in a tin.

I know what everyone is thinking; stick your hands in your pockets and just pay for the extra leg room. But it’s the principle of it. It’s not my fault I’m vertically amplified and I don’t think I should have to pay for being tall.

If an airline really is trying to cater for customers they should make the effort for people like me.

Nothing makes less sense to me than walking past someone of 5’2 swinging their legs in the exit row.

So over the years I have developed a method to try to get the no-charge upgrade.

I follow it for each flight.

Firstly, I check-in online as early as possible. Most airlines allow this 24 hours before take-off. If that doesn’t bag me the seat with the most legroom, I arrive at the airport early and get to the check-in counter before the crowds. Then I give the ‘puppy dog’ eyes to the person at the counter and politely beg for a better seat.

If I have no luck there are three more lines of attack.

I plead with staff at the gate, then the greeting staff at the plane door, and if still unsuccessful I test my charm on a passing staff member at my seat.

Sometimes I get moved, sometimes I don’t. Some people are kind and happily switch places when they see my flight plight - and my knees digging into the seat in front of me.

Most of the time though I end up having to concertina myself into the cramped space and suffer silently.

On most flights the seat-backs are too low for me to rest my head, which means no sleeping.

Often I can’t pull the tray table down - my knees are in the way.

And when the seat in front of me reclines, I’m in a whole new world of pain.

Getting an aisle seat helps but this can backfire, as my knees hang in the aisle and are inevitably smashed by the drink cart.

This is beginning to sound like a ‘woe is me’ story. I am not saying let me stroll into First Class at no extra charge. But letting people like me have first pick at an exit row wouldn’t be the end of the world.