The commercial flying experience is a mockery to the modern traveler.
Let me tell you about my last flight—a nightmare.
I booked my ticket several weeks ago on my laptop. Thank goodness I didn’t have to talk on the phone with a customer service representative. You know the type—the ones who sound like they’re sitting on a fork. Did it all online.
The airline said I’d earned enough rewards points for a free flight because I flew so much. Are they nuts? What other business does this? It’s not like if I drop $1,000 at Home Depot they’ll give me free cabinet coating. This is how they suck you in. They give you a bunch of free stuff for nothing.
Anyways, the airline emailed me to let me check in. Like I need one more email in my life. So 24 hours before my flight I checked in before I got to the airport.
Inside the terminal the employees all had their heads buried in computers. These computers are so important, making sure millions of people across the world get where they’re supposed to go while also making sure no bad guys get on the flights. I get it. We’re all just a number to you people.
I checked a bag, which I dread. An airline employee tagged it and put it on a conveyor belt, where it disappeared into the bowels of the airport with thousands of other bags only to reemerge somehow magically at my destination like it had been there the whole time. Some trick.
Had an hour to kill, so I went to one of those bars and drank a beer from Colorado and a whiskey from Ireland. I read a financial magazine from New York with advice from the most successful people in the United States. Then I watched a television news program featuring breaking news stories from four continents.
When they started boarding, the airline ladies let on people with handicaps, the elderly, parents with small children and active military service personnel first. Then the rest of us boarded “in an orderly fashion.” Moo!
But, oh, the flight.
When you think about it, the nerve of these people. The captain made a 115,000-pound machine defy gravity with nothing but the sound of his voice and a few movements of his hands. No wonder they all think so highly of themselves, these captains.
We accelerated to 485 miles per hour 30,000 feet above the earth in a machine designed by engineers who’d mastered something called “fluid mechanics.” (I dunno either.) The captain deftly adjusted the flying machine to comply with the unseen forces of lift, thrust, weight and drag, the big showoff.
Long flight. I killed time by listening to music on a wireless electronic device. Then I ate a warm cheeseburger and drank a cold beer I’d purchased on the flight. Finally, some civilization.
When I glanced out the window I saw cities, farms, lakes, rivers, mountains and then clouds and blue sky—a vantage point most people who ever lived on earth never experienced unless they happened to be on top of a volcano when it blew up.
Oh, yeah, these “flight attendants.” (Can’t call them stewardesses anymore.) During the flight one accidentally woke me up when we were being served free water and soft drinks, which they managed to do when not entertaining us with funny comments and songs over the P.A.
Eventually, we began our descent, and the pilot maneuvered a floating mass of metal, glass, plastic, electronics, hydraulics, flammable liquids and wires onto a small patch of concrete several football fields long smack dab in the middle of a busy city. But the big-shot didn’t do it alone. He had assistance from invisible men who spoke in a device in his ear and some computers.
The plane’s weight ultimately rested on landing gear made of aluminum, which is a soft, ductile metal they also use to make soda cans, which is not a comforting thought.
Our plane then taxied across the runway while giant machines with the speed, weight and enough liquid ammunition to destroy skyscrapers barely avoided each other while landing and taking off.
So, yeah, get this. We get off the runway, and they tell us there’s no gate ready yet. We sat there for 15 minutes waiting for a damn gate to open up.
Commercial flying—we don’t deserve this.
Photo via David Francis
UPDATE: This version contains slight edits. Thank you to the Reddit flying community for your feedback.