Eclipse Phase | AUSTIN, TEXAS | 2015-2019 A.D.
The Journey Itself
Passengers require three things before they can board the vessel. First is their personal identification and any related travel document files for entering and leaving the nation that they depart from or arrive at. Second is their ticket. Finally they require a medical certificate that states any health concerns that the medical staff should be aware of. Sleeper Class passengers must undergo an additional medical exam to determine if they are fit to endure long-term somnolence without severe adverse affects (Sleeper passengers are always warned that Sleeper travel is physically taxing and may produce harmful side-effects).
Once the passenger has checked in at the spaceport entrance, they are directed to a room where they are instructed on basic safety and emergency procedures, and familiarized with the layout of the vessel. There is a brief exam at the conclusion of this one-hour presentation, with those who fail required to take an additional half-hour course and exam before being allowed to board. The authorities will not allow any passenger aboard the vessel who may endanger themselves, other passengers, the vessel, or the crew. Resistance from the passengers (rare among spacers) often results in their immediate blacklisting with the passenger line; they will not be allowed to purchase passage with that company in the future.
Following the safety and orientation session, passengers are directed to the customs and immigration inspection area. Customs officers ensure that the people leaving are allowed to do so, that they are not carrying anything that is illegal to transport, and check on any number of other regulations and rules that must be followed by travelers. Customs officers are permitted to perform random searches of any cargo a passenger is taking aboard the vessel.
Once passengers are cleared through customs and immigration, they are assisted to their quarters by ship stewards and courtesy personnel. Those passengers traveling Business Class or better can experience the departure from the various lounges in the passenger areas. During maneuvers they can be seated and secured in the numerous comfortable seating areas. All other passengers are required to remain in their cabins until departure maneuvers are completed. During maneuvers these passengers must secure themselves on their beds with safety netting. Once the departure maneuvers are complete, the ship’s centrifuge (or the ship itself, depending on the vessel’s design) is spun up to produce gravity in the passenger and crew areas.
During the Voyage
Once the final maneuvers and thrusting are complete, and gravity has been established, passengers are free to move about the designated passenger areas. This is also the first chance people get to eat after the trip starts as it is recommended to all that they skip eating until after departure. This reduces the chance of people throwing up their last meal during the zero-gravity conditions of boarding through to departure.
Stewards work hard throughout the voyage to keep the passengers fed and entertained. When passengers book their passage, part of the process is to complete a questionnaire about their favorite activities and other personal requirements when traveling. The questionnaire has all manner of questions about food, entertainment, hobbies and work activities, along with ample opportunity to make special requests. This information is compiled and used by the stewards to organize activities for the duration of the journey. Special requests may be provided for, but always for a fee proportional to the request.
For those that wish (or are required) to spend time in low- or zero-gravity, there are facilities for numerous activities from sports to simply floating and bouncing about. For those not acquainted with living in low gravity, these facilities are always heavily used if a person is traveling to a destination in constant low gravity. There are typically some passengers coming from low-gravity environments, so there are some quarters for these passengers so that they can acclimatize themselves to higher-gravity environments.
Passengers traveling at the more economical rates take their meals in common mess areas. The food consists mostly of pre-prepared, packaged meals with fresh food made available on occasion. For those with money to spend, restaurants serving freshly cooked meals (or at least above-average pre-prepared meals), are available. Game rooms, observation lounges, studios and computer access rooms are also available to those who pay the necessary user fee. Passengers are free to enter any passenger area not reserved for Business Class or higher.