This is not the column I originally wrote. Turns out, I cannot publish that column in good faith. I will tell you why. But first, I want to show you what I set out to say. It was about modern air travel experiences.

flight attendantYou see, I recently flew the friendly turbulence, where a traveler can kick back, sip a twenty-five dollar ginger ale, and hyperventilate in fear that the plane will make an emergency landing in some place like the Atlantic Ocean or Boise.

In fairness, there is no good reason for me to hyperventilate. I have absolutely zero control over the in-flight movie and other causes of emergency landings. And it’s not just me who is futile! Every single human effort to prevent airline-related fatalities has failed. Metal detectors, personal body scans, X-ray machines, sniffer dogs, randomized luggage searches, interrogation rooms, Chili’s restaurants, and pilot training: not one of them can keep that kid from kicking your seat so hard that the engine falls off.

But we try these techniques anyway. These are the prices of traveling across time zones more quickly than you can by hichhiking, not counting layovers and flight delays.

Speaking of flight delays, I wanted to write about how delays seem to be growing more common. I even did research, with actual numbers and stuff. We liberal arts majors agree that the spirit of statistics is more important than the jiggery-pokery “values” of actual numbers. So here are some of the spirited statistics I picked up in a bar conversation:

– In 1955, the average expected flight time from Los Angeles to New York was 3.5 hours, and 40% of flights arrived on time.
– By 1985, the average flight time was 5.5 hours, and 60% of flights were on time.
– In the modern era, the flight will be canceled 98% of the time due to weather, corporate merger, or non-applicable use of frequent flier miles.

wrecked aircraftBy now, planes should be going faster AND landing at their intended destinations. Then again, for all that technology was supposed to improve in our lives, I am still waiting for a futuristic device that does _____.

Do you see that blank space? I had to cancel funding for that piece of commentary because I lost the moral right to write my original column. Which is too bad—the whole thing was going to be a doozy. It was going to GET RID OF WAITING IN LINE.

You know the drill. You’re standing inside the velvet rope snake, waiting your turn to tell the counter agent that, yes, you packed your own luggage, even though your mother actually did it for you but she’s not a terrorist so it’s okay. Other passengers are nudging their elephantine luggage into your personal bubble as if they will spur you to advance more quickly. And you’re thinking that there must be a better way to spend your life.

It turns out that you are right. Danish researchers showed that the usual first-come, first-served method of waiting in line is the pits. We’d be better off acting like the children in Lord of the Flies or the Republican presidential field. But since I am not publishing that call to action, the airports will continue issuing passengers numb shells of oblivion and Cinnabon, so that by the time we board the flight, we will not notice that we do not, technically, fit inside the aircraft.

I had also written an open memo to my fellow airline passengers regarding seat assignments. Since I cannot now print the memo in full, I hope the memo subject line will suffice:

SUBJECT: Dear fellow airline passengers: If you take an aisle seat or a center seat on an aircraft, and the window seat with my name on it is not yet occupied, do not proceed to buckle your seat belt, unpack your luggage, and scarf your Cinnabon, because you will have to move when I arrive, and I do not appreciate your theatrical sighs.

spilled luggageSo anyway, that’s what all I was going to write about in this column. But during my recent travels, my rants were proven fallacious on nearly every count. All four aircraft took off within thirty minutes of scheduled departure time. The lines moved as freely as if they had eaten Raisin Bran. And I avoided Boise entirely. Therefore, as an integrious journalist, I scrapped the column in its entirety, in hopes of speeding the return of my misplaced luggage.


This Fool’s Gold originally appeared in The KC Post.

(Featured image of wrecked plane copyright John Atherton/CC. Flight attendant copyright Mark Nye/CC. Spilled luggage copyright Cayetano/CC.)


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