Third class travel has certainly improved in a hundred years time. I am seated in the back of the first level of the double decker Airbus, a swollen and oddly proportioned plane with some 600 seats but I would wager less than 400 passengers. Maybe far less. My section seems less than a third full. I sit along one aisle with two empty seats between my neighbor and myself. I enjoyed an impressive introduction to the plane after checking in at the gate, with a ramp descending and switching back to frame three enclosed walkways extending out from the terminal and feeding the plane supplies and passengers.
While each seat is afforded a personal display a few larger screens offer flight information to the bored and curious. Global cities and their local times scroll across the bottom as the flight path and position is shown on various flat maps and hemispheres. A perspective shows a black sky and dark Europe with cities called out in English or Arabic. While Emirates Airlines offers various alcoholic libations, they also show the planes heading on a compass with both direction of destination (Dubai) and the direction of Mecca called out with golden triangle and tiny Kabaa, respectively. Another funny detail is the call outs of famous shipwrecks among the geographic and political labels on the flat maps. The Empress of Ireland sank in the St Lawrence River in 1914. The Titanic and Bismark get labels, as does the Alabama (17th century?). No famous plane crashes get labels.
The website http://www.justmagic.com/GM-GE.html has some interesting mappings of the ocean, shipwrecks and underwater cables, most of them saved to maps available on Google Earth. The adage that humanity knows more about outer space than the ocean floor comes to mind. The map of shipwrecks off the coast of France is a powerful reminder of all the souls and stories out to sea forever.
The day after we arrived in Bangladesh news broke of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance. That tragedy has taken multiple turns and has produced precious few answers. I hope and pray that the families of the victims find some solace for their grief.