Under normal conditions, I would skip flying on an airplane in favor of a more enjoyable activity, such as being examined for prostate cancer. This opinion once again was etched into my mind on December 24, as my family headed for California, a place slightly warmer than Alaska this year, for Christmas vacation.
Our flight was to leave at 6:30 a.m., which meant that I would have to wake up at 5 a.m., which meant that hell would actually have to freeze over. However, my parents successfully dragged me into our van with the rest of the luggage, giving me an extra hour of nappy-time.
After arriving at Anchorage International Airport, we proceeded to the check-in desk, which confusingly does NOT serve poultry. However, the lady behind the desk did two other things for us:
A) Checked us in (hence the term “check-in desk”).
B) Ensured our personal safety by asking us, “Did anyone you don’t know place anything inside your bags?” I—in a serious manner that showed I had an understanding of the importance to human life that airline safety represents—answered, “I don’t think so.”
My family proceeded to the security gate, where we passed through a state-of-the-art metal detector with the most advanced technology on Earth, honed to perfection through years of research to detect such dire threats to human life as car keys and loose change.
So, after passing through security, we boarded the plane. Before we took off, the flight attendant explained to all of us these five important facts:
- We’re on an airplane.
- Airplanes can crash.
- But not ALL airplanes crash.
- Some just explode for no particular reason.
- So, in the unlikely event that a midair explosion blows us all into bits, we should be sure to use the water-floatation device under our seats.
I asked the flight attendant if she would consent to a gruelingly journalistic interview:
MB: Isn’t it true that if there was some kind of midair explosion, we would all die before our corpses hit the water?
Flight attendant: Okay, being a positive-thinking person, I would hope to survive that.
MB: But wouldn’t the fall from thirty thousand feet straight into the water be like hitting concrete?
Flight attendant: People have fallen out of skyscrapers and survived. I’d like to think there’s always a chance.
MB: So you accept the fact that your job puts you at risk for merciless and instant death?
Flight attendant: I actually feel safer in an airplane than I do in a car. The drive to the airport is scarier than the entire flight.
I could have argued that automobiles rarely explode for no particular reason, but I suppose the flight attendant had better things to do, such as making me a first-class breakfast. That’s right, having earned billions of frequent-flyer points over the years, I got to sit in first class, an experience which I must rant about for a couple of paragraphs.
First off, while sitting in coach (or “trash”), it’s not unusual to see dozens of innocent people crammed into a space almost equivalent to a peanut shell, and that’s just one chair. It’s also possible to witness grown men fighting for their lives over an armrest about the width of a toothpick.
However, in first class, they gave me a chair approximately the mass of the Lincoln Memorial. In fact, my armrest alone was probably heavy enough to crush sixteen large kittens in one quick drop.
Also, the service in first class is vastly superior to that of coach. For example, when sitting in coach on flights that serve a meal, it’s not unusual for a flight attendant to come to your seat, take your order, and return with your food in about the time it takes for a female elephant to go through pregnancy.
However, in first class, the flight attendant would CONSTANTLY bring me food. I mean, even before the plane took off, I had already been served more food than Rush Limbaugh eats in a month. By the time the plane had landed and I had gotten off, I’m surprised everyone at the terminal didn’t gasp and say something like, “Good Lord, is that a man or an enormously gigantic wad of flesh-colored bubble gum that has somehow grown legs and learned to walk?”
Back to the original point of this article, flying is a hectic, nerve-racking, and potentially risky activity, which is not enjoyable to everybody. However, the workers of the aviation industry, from the check-in lady all the way up to the flight attendants themselves, have only one priority when it comes to their jobs: not dying.