Not a fan of commercial airlines, I recently did consent to take a quick trip to the West Coast with my wife only because winter here in Maine has affected my thinking. I reasoned that a continental round-trip would be preferable to toughing out the last ten days of winter at home. It was a toss-up, as I figure one transcontinental flight is equivalent to slipping on the ice about five times and hitting your head hard once, maybe twice.

Tipping the scales toward making the trip, our tickets were paid for by my sister-in-law, who spared no expense in finding us the absolute cheapest fares available that were still legal. In return, we would help her move to a new house, which I know is insane but, hey, it was still winter here, the forsythia was already blooming in Seattle and my reasoning had been compromised by my dangerously low cabin fever.

If we wanted to pick our seats, the fare structure on our tickets required that we pay to play. My wife, however, decided to use her superpowers of persuasion and mind control. She approached the gate agent and, with an Obi-Wan Kenobi style, she waved her hand and said, “These are not the seats you assigned us.” The gate agent nodded and issued us new boarding passes.

We boarded the plane and found our seats. I am one lucky guy; somehow my wife wheedled a window seat for me. She knows I like to study the geography, identify major rivers, look at agricultural patterns and watch the topographical transition from plains to mountains. I also keep an eye out for cloud gremlins chewing on the wing or engine cowlings so that I can alert the captain if such a case arises.

Our tickets did not allow us to use the overhead bins but we were permitted to bring one satchel that would fit under the seat in front of us. Technically we were allowed to access that piece of luggage but, practically, with the seats adjusted so that we had to sit in the knee-to-chin position, only very small, double-jointed people could pull off that acrobatic trick.

We sat near the gate on the tarmac for quite a while. The plane must have been a tad overweight as the captain channeled excess engine heat through the cabin, sweating a few pounds of water off the passengers. No one complained as there was a $35 up-front, nonrefundable fee for each complaint.

Our flight commenced and there I was in a thin aluminum tube hurling across the continent at 600 miles an hour. Looking up from my window, I noticed that the interior of the plane was nearly dark. It was just past noon. The sun was blazing down on the great American landscape and only four people on this jumbo Airbus had their shades open. Passengers were watching movies on their tiny screens: something they can do at home. I got the urge to jump up and announce that people can go to the movies anytime for under $10 but to be able to study the landscape from six miles up is a special opportunity. However, I was afraid to be taken down by an air marshal and, anyway, I couldn’t stand up.

A young woman in our row’s aisle seat was watching a show on her phone which I imagined was either Convoy or Sharknado. All was well until she leaned over and asked me to lower my window shade. As I pretended not to hear, my wife kindly relayed the young lady’s request.

Why didn’t she take a night flight? What does she think window seats are for? I moved to ask the young woman to turn the brightness of her screen down but my wife signaled to indicate that I was being watched by the air marshal. I pulled down the shade and sat in the dark, simmering on low for about two hours, smelling my knees.

Thirty minutes before landing, when her movie was finished, I asked if she could please let me know when it would be a good time to raise my shade. She seemed nice enough and graciously gave me permission to do so. When I did, I saw Mount Rainier, rising through the clouds, live, in color and true 3-D.

Next week, we will re-live the return flight which made this leg look like an absolute delight.