Mike Bruesewitz: How to survive intercontinental flights as a giant

The view of Malta from the plane.

Mike Bruesewitz

For a majority of my daily activities and even for my job, being much larger than the average person have quite a few advantages. I am always quick to help someone at the grocery store who needs an item from the top shelf and will change any light bulb around the house for many of my friends families (this is also a business/career I have seriously considered once I get done with basketball).

I would like to say I do many of these tall deeds out of the kindness of my heart but I cannot honestly say that is the only reason. I am a big believer in Karma, and I do my best to build up "Giantism Karma." The definition of Giantism Karma is the buildup of good doings so those of smaller stature will one day repay you with kindness in situations where said Giant’s stature is problematic in a public situation. Examples include allowing someone with stork-like legs to enjoy the aisle or exit row during 10+ hour flights across oceans.

While checking into every flight it is commonplace for me to ask for a seat with the most legroom with the best possible manners and smile I can muster up for the computer attendant. I have been fortunate on all but one of my trips across the Atlantic and it just so happened to be my most recent trip that sucked caboodle.

I was sitting in the New York airport trying to figure out if my flight to Dusseldorf would be a very full one, also to see if there were any cuties I could maybe chat up before heading to yet another strange and new place. I also was hoping to find the shortest person possible and ask them to trade tickets with me because I was given a middle seat, which is equivalent to cruel and unusual punishment. After a couple of failed attempts at bribing people to change seats I then began to hold out hope that I would be next to someone with a little empathy and was willing to switch seats with me.

I enter the plane and silently acknowledged the generic "watch your head" from the flight attendants and immediately start searching for my potential flying companions. There is another gentleman in front of me who is about 6-foot-5 that is heading back towards the area that my seat is in, but there is no way they would put the two biggest people on the plane right next to each other, but then again less logical things have happened and I am placed next to a 6-5 former professional Italian striker for the next 10 hours. He was actually a great guy, and we had quite a long conversation, which would only be interrupted when I needed to stand up because I no longer had any blood in the lower half of my body. Trying to find any sort of comfort was pretty much impossible so I distracted myself with three movies to pass the remaining time.

I successfully landed in Dusseldorf, Germany at 6 a.m. I had now been up for about 26 hours straight and was in desperate need of a nap. I walked around for about 20 minutes looking for my gate and found a long empty row of chairs to pass out on for the next three hours till I would catch my connecting flight to my new home of Malta. 

After a nap that needed at least five more snooze cycles and a delicious airport breakfast I was on the last leg of my journey. Thankfully the flight was only 1/4 full and I was able to slide in to an exit row that I occupied all by myself. I took full advantage and used all three seats as a bed, which is a pretty hilarious site for others. Think of a heavier person who wears a shirt that’s about two sizes too small and that was me trying to fit on this makeshift bed of airplane seats.

After a short three-hour flight I was finally stepped off the plane after a 19-hour travel day to 60 degrees, palm trees, and sunshine. My new coach met me at the airport and was my personal chauffeur to the hotel I would be staying for the next three days until permanent lodgings would be ready.

Next Blog is will feature my first meal and my first game on the island with my new team.

(Note:You can find the archive of Mike Bruesewitz’s Imported Bru stories and photo galleries here.)