Your Parents Airlines
One of the more annoying aspects of traveling a lot is that eventually you end up having flights cancelled or changed at the last minute and thus end up flying with carriers you’ve never heard of. This is particularly true in the Midwest where there seems to be an endless supply of obscure airlines ready to swoop in and deliver you from one destination to the next. So it was with me recently. I was forced to leave the familiarity of a large carrier and instead had to book a flight on Your Parents Airlines.
Their gate seemed harmless enough and eventually I heard the pre-boarding announcement. “Good afternoon passengers. This is the pre-boarding announcement for flight 17 to St. Louis. We are now inviting those passengers with small children, and any passengers requiring special assistance, to begin boarding at this time. No running and keep your hands to yourself. Please have your boarding pass and identification ready. Regular boarding will begin in approximately ten minutes time. Thank you.”
Sure enough they were as good as their word and we were all on board in no time. All except Fred Stamper.
“This is the final boarding call for passenger Fred Stamper booked on flight 17 to St. Louis to honor us with your presence. Please proceed to gate 3 immediately. The final checks are being completed and the captain will order for the doors of the aircraft to close in approximately five minutes time. I repeat. This is the final boarding call for Fred Stamper. We have better things to do than wait around for you all day. Thank you.”
The plane smelled funny. Not bad, just funny. There wasn’t a bit of wood in sight and yet I swear I could make out the scent of Lemon Pledge.
At this point you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about and I have to agree that perhaps calling small airlines annoying because they all have their little idiosyncrasies makes me appear a bit petty.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome onboard Flight 17 with service from Dallas to St. Louis. We are currently third in line for take-off and are expected to be in the air in approximately seven minutes time. We ask that you please fasten your seatbelts at this time and secure all baggage underneath your seat or in the overhead compartments. We also ask that your seats and table trays are in the upright position for take-off. I’m not going to tell you again to stop touching your sister. Please turn off all personal electronic devices, including laptops and cell phones. We remind you that this is a non-smoking flight. Tampering with, disabling, or destroying the smoke detectors located in the lavatories is prohibited by law. You shouldn’t be smoking anyway. Wipe that look off your face Mister or I’ll wipe it off for you. Thank you for choosing Your Parents Airlines. Enjoy your flight.”
Perhaps annoying isn’t the right word but it saves you from having to read a long effort on my part to come up with the right term. I guess there is a sort of cold comfort in the homogenous travel experience provided by the major airlines that I’ve grown use to.
A small round stewardess appeared in front of us with a microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the crew I ask that you please direct your attention to the monitors above as we review the emergency procedures. There are four emergency exits on this aircraft. Take a minute to locate the exit closest to you. Why? Because I said so. Note that the nearest exit may be behind you. Count the number of rows to this exit. Should the cabin experience sudden pressure loss, stay calm and listen for instructions from the cabin crew. Oxygen masks will drop down from above your seat. Place the mask over your mouth and nose, like this. Pull the strap to tighten it. If you are traveling with children, make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children. I’m not going to tell you again. In the event of an emergency, please assume the bracing position. Lean forward with your hands on top of your head and your elbows against your thighs. Ensure your feet are flat on the floor. I would hate to see you get hurt. Life rafts are located below your seats and emergency lighting will lead you to your closest exit and slide. A life vest is located in a pouch under your seat or between the armrests. When instructed to do so, open the plastic pouch and remove the vest. Slip it over your head. Pass the straps around your waist and adjust at the front. To inflate the vest, pull firmly on the red cord, only when leaving the aircraft. If you need to refill the vest, blow into the mouthpieces. Use the whistle and light to attract attention. Also, your seat bottom cushion can be used as a flotation device. Pull the cushion from the seat, slip your arms into the straps, and hug the cushion to your chest. Remember that you can drown in an inch of water. We ask that you make sure that all carry-on luggage is stowed away safely during the flight. While we wait for takeoff, would it kill you to review the safety data card in the seat pocket in front of you?”
Surely the longest safety speech ever. 5 minutes on a water landing on a flight from Dallas to St. Louis?
I guess any journey is annoying to some degree. It’s just that on Delta or US Air I’m comfortable with little things. For example, I know I will get a movie as opposed to reruns of Newhart and The Carol Burnett Show. I will also get a choice of 2 meals instead of just meatloaf and a small lecture about how there are starving people in Africa that would love the opportunity to enjoy a hot meal and would certainly finish their vegetables before inquiring about dessert.
“Good afternoon passengers. This is your captain speaking. First I’d like to welcome everyone on Your Parents Airline Flight 17. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 30,000 feet at an airspeed of 400 miles per hour. The time is 4:15 pm. The weather looks good and with the tailwind on our side we are expecting to land in St. Louis approximately five minutes ahead of schedule. The weather in St. Louis is clear and sunny, with a high of 25 degrees for this afternoon. If the weather cooperates we should get a great view of the city as we descend. I’ve had it up to here with your roughhousing and horsing around and if it continues I will turn this plane right around. I’ll talk to you again before we reach our destination. Until then, sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the flight.”
Looking around the quiet plane I wasn’t so much annoyed, if that’s the word, by the accusation of roughhousing and horsing around as the captain’s need to use both words. Don’t they basically mean the same thing? Suddenly I started to realize that perhaps I was annoyed but not because this trip was unfamiliar but because it was all too familiar. I struggled to try and find that old saying about not being able to go home again.
The stewardess asked that if I must chew gum, a filthy habit, to relieve the pressure in my ears could I please do it with my mouth closed. I think I was napping when the captain came on to talk about turbulence.
Destination is a funny word when you think about it. St. Louis was where the plane was landing but it certainly wasn’t my destination. Eventually the captain came back on.
” Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to St. Louis. Local time is 7:00 and the temperature is 23 degrees. For your safety and comfort, we ask that you please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until I turn off the Fasten Seat Belt sign. This will indicate that we have parked at the gate and that it is safe for you to move about. Please check around your seat for any personal belongings you may have brought onboard with you and please use caution when opening the overhead bins, as heavy articles may have shifted around during the flight. If you require deplaning assistance, please remain in your seat until all other passengers have deplaned. One of our crew members will then be pleased to assist you. We remind you to please wait until inside the terminal to use any electronic devices. Didn’t I tell you we’d make it through the rough times? On behalf of Your Parents Airlines and the entire crew, I’d like to thank you for joining us on this trip and we are looking forward to seeing you on board again in the near future and ask that you remember the words of Henry David Thoreau… We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.”
For a few moments, I’m not exactly sure why, I didn’t want to get off the plane. Being annoyed is complicated stuff.