Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Things That Chap My Ass About Air Travel, Part 1

Jim is on Vacation in Michigan this week. He is surrounded by vast armies of ridiculously large white tailed deer - seriously, these things are like terminator deer from some apocalyptic deer future with glowing red eyes and metal endo-skeletons and giant bulging Schwarzeneggeresque muscles…

We made it to Michigan alive.

As usual, the flight was hell in a tin can with hell stuffing and brightly colored hell sprinkles on top with little wisps of hell smoke wafting hell like from the top of the steaming heap of hell.

Have I mentioned how much I despise commercial air travel? I haven't? Well, you're in for a treat then, aren't you?

I hate commercial air travel. I hate it with the fiery unbridled passion of a thousand Palin supporters defending yet another bizarre and incomprehensible decision from one of their republican demi-gods.

Crowded airports pushed beyond their maximum carrying capacity, never ending ubiquitous haphazard construction in every terminal, security regulations and processes smothered in incomprehensible bureaucracy and shy on common sense, over-sold and overcrowded flights, piss poor organization, airlines operating on the ragged edge of bankruptcy, old airplanes with overflowing toilets and stress fractures, surly employees afraid for their jobs and not particularly interested in them in the first place – a hundred million moving parts in random Brownian-motion, yeah, nothing to go wrong there. I could go on and on, the stupidity is just plain endless when it comes to the air travel process.

But today I’ll concentrate my ire on my fellow travelers.

Nothing says cud-chewing stupid like the average air traveler.

It starts before you even get on the plane, at security. Nowhere in the ridiculous goat-roping idiot-fest that is modern air travel is the stupidity of the average passenger more apparent than at the TSA security check point. How long have we had to put up with this bullshit? Since the week after 911? Eight goddamned years now? It’s not like it’s a new thing. It’s not like the rules aren’t posted online, on the tickets, on every damned wall and post and pillar and pylon and vertical flat surface in the airport. You’d think people would get a clue.

- Have your ticket and your identification ready. Ready like in your hand. There are four hundred angry and irritated people in line behind you and all of them are in a hurry – and I’m their leader. Have your shit ready. I don’t give a flying fig Newton if you hate the police state, pull your Guy Fawkes passive aggressive bullshit somewhere else. If I have to stand behind one more big haired bitch who who holds up the line while digging through her purse for her driver’s license I’m going to help the TSA goons beat the shit out of her.

- Remove the metal from your person and put it in the tub. Anybody who shows up with 400 metal studs and piercings and buckles and buttons and clips, zips, and pips needs to be beaten with a baton, pepper sprayed, fire-hosed, and then stripped and interrogated with the alien anal probe on a freezing metal table.

- Take your shoes off and put them on the belt. How goddamned hard is this? Pretty fucking hard when you wear combat boots laced to the neck like Harry Houdini wrapped in chains for a dunk in the Tank O Death. Get a clue, you Emo jackass, wear sandals or slip-ons or sneakers or something that you can take off without causing my blood pressure to trip security alarms in three adjoining terminals.

- Take your laptop out, put it in the tub, put the tub on the belt. Put your bag in a tub, put the tub on the belt. Step through the metal detector. Gather your tubs and move the fuck out of the way or I swear to God I’m going to scream and point at you and yell “Oh my God! He’s got a bottle of water and a pair of nail clippers!”

We would now like to invite our passengers in rows 20-15 to board the aircraft…

I think all airline passengers should be required to take a basic math test before buying a ticket, because it is patently obvious that the staggering majority cannot count.

- If they’re boarding rows 20-15 and you are in seat 12A, they’re not talking to you, you stupid bastard, sit your ass down and wait your turn.

- And just as bad are the dipshits who don’t go when called. “Yeah, yeah, I know they’re boarding rows 30-34 and I’m in 32, but I think I’ll just wait until they’re boarding row 10 and then stand behind the giant line of passengers and act all impatient and then when I finally do get to my seat I’ll bitch really loud that there’s no room left in the overhead, because chicks dig the the whole self-centered asshole routine…”

- Part of the problem here, of course, is the dumbassery inherent in the announcement, “we would like to invite… .” No. Sorry, but no. We’re talking a gaggle of mouth breathing idiots here, you need to be more specific, “We are now boarding rows 20-15, if you have a seat in rows 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, or 20 get your ass on the fucking plane now – otherwise your ass is staying here. If you approach the boarding gate and you don’t have a ticket with rows 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, or 20 printed on it, the ticket agent will kick you in the nuts and then taze your stupid ass, after which you will be stripped naked, wrapped in duct tape, loaded on a luggage cart, transported to the arrival apron, and unceremoniously dumped in the trunk of a taxi driven by a man with a giant moustache who speaks a language consisting primarily of clicking noises and glottal stops. What happens to you after that is not our problem and your credit card will be billed the full price of your fare plus an additional $14.95 for rental of the luggage cart. The taxi ride is on us. In other words, wait your turn, motherfucker.”

Carry on luggage. Look, I don’t give a shit if you have the assistance of the New York Fire Brigade, a hydraulic jack, and the jaws of life you cannot get a baby grand piano into the overhead luggage compartment – and don’t give me this bullshit about how “it fit on the other plane with no problems at at all.” It didn’t fit, you know it, I know it, the stewardess knows it, and pre-technology stone-aged jungle people from Mindanao Island know it. You’re not fooling anybody.

- There are two hundred people on the plane, all of them are trying to get their shit in the overhead. You. Are. Not. Any. More. Important. Than. Anybody. Else. You don’t get a whole bin to yourself. If your shit don’t fit, then all of us have to wait while they get a luggage handler and tag your bag and put it in the cargo hold where it should have been in the first place. Oh, and I put my bag in the bin and I put my hat and jacket on top of it. It you start shoving shit around and you crush my stuff into the corner – I am going to get up and I am going take you into the lavatory and I am going to introduce you to the blue water head first. You waited until the last minute, you’ve got too much shit, and you’re stupid – this is your problem, don’t make it mine.

- The 60lb backpack is NOT a purse, stop pretending that it is. You’re not fooling anybody.

Airlines need to start charging per pound of carry-on.

Sit down. I can not emphasize this enough. Get on the plane when called. Put your shit in the overhead or under the seat. And sit the fuck down. You’ve just had two hours in the waiting area to get out your book and your iPod and your knitting and your crossword puzzle book and your other bullshit. Now is not the time to go rooting through your carry-on. There are 200 hundred other idiots trying to get to their seats while your fat ass is blocking the aisle as you unzip pockets looking for your headphones. Heh heh, sorry, don’t mind me. Fuck you, I do mind. Get on the plane, sit down.

- And STAY sitting down. What the hell is the deal here? Sit down, buckle up, unbuckle, stand up, root through the overhead, sit down, stand up, back and forth – dude, seriously, they make medication for ADHD, get a prescription.

- Use the goddamned bathroom before getting on the plane. For crying out loud. Two hundred cud-chewers rooting through their shit in the aisle and there is always one dipshit who just has to get all the way to the back of the plane in order to use the lavatory. Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. I like to stretch and “accidentally” elbow these people in the bladder, oh excuse me, looks like you don’t need to go anymore, uh? Here’s my napkin, happy to help. Now sit down, dickhead.

- “The captain can’t push the plane back until everybody is in their seats. The captain can’t push the plane back until everybody is in their seats. The captain can’t… Who the fuck do you think they’re talking to? You, you stupid ignorant self-centered asshole, you. They’re talking to you. You’re the only one not sitting down. A multi-million dollar aircraft, millions of dollars worth of cargo and passengers, Captain and crew, complex air schedules, taxi plans, gate reservations, dozens of people working on the tarmac, baggage handlers, the guys with the little light wands, the guy who works the jetway, the ticket agents, the people in the tower, the people waiting on the other end - hundreds, maybe thousands, of people all waiting on you to sit the fuck down. But hey, Princess, take your time, the whole world can wait while you get out a stick of gum.

- Cell phones. Unless you’re sending the formula for the cancer cure, hang up and turn your phone off. Now. Or I swear to the Ghost of Alexander Graham Bell I am going to beat you to death with a $5 snack box.

A couple other points:

- Hygiene. You’re going to be packed into an aluminum can with two hundred other people for the next couple hours breathing recycled air, take a fucking shower first. Also, deodorant. Also take a Gasex – in fact, take two. Same goes for a breath mint.

- I’m going to be honest with you, I hate your children. I spend the entire flight secretly hoping they'll get sucked into a jet engine. Yes, I am a horrible person. See, here’s the thing – I’ve got a kid, he’s flown since he was little. We made him behave. We brought stuff for him to do. We kept him up the night before so he would sleep on the plane. If I’m not going to put up with shit from my own kid, what makes you think I’ll put up with it from yours? I don’t want to spend six hours listening to your kid scream, or having him blow snot bubbles over the seat at me, or kick my chair endlessly for duration of the flight. Here’s an idea, cough syrup. If you have kids, buy a bottle of codeine laced goodness and introduce the little hellions to better living through chemistry. One more point on this subject, because I see it a lot – four, five, six little kids riding with mom, dad sitting three rows back with head phones on, oblivious. Listen carefully, fucker, you had ‘em so you either help your wife deal with ‘em or I swear I am going to saw your balls off with the plastic spoon from my snack box. Savvy?

- The drink cart. It’s not a full service bar. “What do you have?” What the fuck do you think they have? They have the same shit they have on every goddamned drink cart on every goddamned airplane in every goddamned airline in the entire goddamned world. Soda, the brown kind and the clear kind and the diet kind. They’ve got juice, grape, apple, orange, and cranberry. They’ve got crappy coffee, and ice water. They’ve got some kind of shitty lite beer for four dollars and some kind of cheap wine, red and white. It is always the same. They’ve got it listed in the in-flight magazine, they announced it on the speaker, the guy in front of you asked the same question, so did the dipshit in front of him.

- Keep your ass out of my face. I don’t care if you die a prolonged and painful death from an embolism and blood clots, I don’t care if the doctor advises you to stretch your legs, I don’t care – keep your ass out of my face. If you have to stretch, go do it somewhere else, but keep your ass out of my face. I have a leaky ink pen, I’m not afraid to use it.

There’s more, oh there is so much more. But now, I have to go enjoy my vacation.

What chaps your ass about your fellow passengers? (we’ll discuss other aspects of commercial air travel at a future date).


  1. Oh great. And I just bought air tickets last night. And on a carrier I never liked in the first place (because they were 1/3 the cost of the other flights and I like my money).

  2. ::Standing ovation::

    OK, you pretty much covered it all - except for the afraid-to-fly lard salesman from Louisville who gets sauced up on thirteen minis to hide his aerophobia and has to lean over on you and tell you his whole friggin life story in loud whispers while occasionally ejecting small samples of spit out the white-foamed corners of his mouth onto your arm/book/face.

    I always wondered how many ashtrays it would take to hide the body...

  3. Jim, I think that we need to find a wealthy investor for you to start your own airlines.

    Think about it.

    Don't Chap My Ass Air

    I would add the seriously overweight guy who always seems to end up in the seat next to me, falls asleep, and ends up slumping some part of his person onto me-- head on my shoulder, arm in my lap. No, just because I am trapped on a plane beside you does not mean you get to get all cozy. I too have contemplated the uses of broken spoons and the storage capacity of the nooks and crannies of an airplane.

  4. Wow, I mean WOOOOW! That's a lot of stuff, but covers pretty much everything.

    Me, on the other hand, I don't give a flying fuck (ZING!!!). I get on the plane with a book or a laptop, and become oblivious to the world. Kids, fat asses, fart knockers, I don't care.

    I am flying damnit! Through the air! In a bird-like fashion, almost! Who gives a damn about anything else.

  5. These are all part of myriad reasons why I do NOT fly.

    The bathroom is one of my favorites though. Last time I flew to Tampa from Newark, we were still climbing to cruising altitude and this jackass comes stumbling down the aisle, gripping every seat back as if his life depended on it (because it did - we were climbing at a 45 degree angle.) It's a 2 fucking hour flight. You can't hold it?!

  6. Speaking as a person of the female persuasion, I always enjoy "That Guy". You know, the one who assumes that because you are flying alone, you are obviously in the market for a little airplane nookie.

    "Of course she wants it! She went OUTSIDE didn't she?"

    Bastards. Back off before I have your nuts for a little snack, buttmunch.

    Oh, and what you said.

  7. Weird thing: I haven't flown since, if I recall correctly, 1999. It might even have been '98.

    I should probably go somewhere just so I can find out what post-9/11 air travel is like.

  8. I am joining Karl --->

    ::Standing Ovation::

    I can't wait for the encore (it's Part 1, isn't it?)!

    I have two to add:

    I hate it when the person in front of me is sitting in my lap. Look, I realize that airplane seats were designed by Torquemada, but must you recline all the way back, so that I can practically see up your nose? I just don't want to spend the entire plane ride with you in my lap.

    The other thing that I hate are the hair pullers -- those people who get up from their seat behind me, clutch onto my seat back, and grab a fistful of my hair in the process. Then they give me the hairy eyeball when I shriek "ouch" at the top of my lungs. (Mind you, this is after they let go of the large clump of hair that they've extracted forcefully from my head...)

  9. Fly Southwest - the boarding process is much less painful. Also, no drink cart - they take your order in one pass and bring it on a second run.

    I do think the folks at Southwest are more friendly, as well.

  10. See Jim, I'm with you on all of the above, and even though I don't travel that much!! I just hate fumbling around for stuff. More of a personal security issue since I'm usually traveling by myself. Fumbling around for stuff makes me a target. Do the same when I'm on public transit here in town.

    So when I get in the massive lines for the obligatory cavity search from TSA, I've aready got my ID out and my shoes untied (or I've got on slip-ons of some type), all my loose stuff is tucked into carry-on pockets and the laptop compartment is open and ready to grab the thing when I get to the conveyor. I've usually switched shoes and put my overcoat in the checked luggage, so don't have to worry about dragging a coat onto the plane.

    I even have a particular order I use to send my stuff through the machine...carry-on, laptop, shoes...grab carry-on, insert laptop, grab shoes and get the f* out of the way.

    Same when I get ready to head to my seat. I usually have all my "needs" in one little bag that can be grabbed as a unit out of my carry-on as I slide into my seat. No fuss, no muss, and these days includes food & drink. That way I'm not relegated to the 2 onces of warm Coke they offer me in flight.

    You'd like traveling with me.


  11. At some point there was a device you could buy that you could stick on your tray brackets that would prevent the jerk in front of you from reclining into your lap. They'd just think the button was broken.


  12. Flying with someone in your lap bugs the crap out of me. I flew on vacation within the last couple of weeks and both times the jerk off in front of me thought he was obligated to lean the seat back the entire flight. Even when he got up he left the seat back. I don't lean my seat back because I know how uncomfortable it is, but it always happens to me. Sheesh.

    Anyone flown Virgin America? They had really nice service at the gate. The flight crew dressed casual for an airline, and the plane had purple lights everywhere. It was different. But free wi-fi inflight and regular television channels on the seat back screens was nice.

  13. I'm averaging 20,000 miles per year and every single case you've mentioned I've seen in action. My favorites are the folks who screw up the toiletries...walking past the table of bags, the helpful TSA agent with the 3-1-1 posters, and trying to send at least 3 1-quart bags through the X-ray machine.

    Hell hath no fury like a TSA agent on the warpath against a bottle of deoderant.

  14. Somehow I think Jim will be really glad to step off the aircraft back in Anchorage....the weather ain't bad, there are plenty of fish that need catching, and summer is half over.

    Virgin America ROCKS...!

    Its no wonder Alaska Airlines petitioned the FAA to have their US airlines certification taken away...they could very easily put Alaska Air in a world of HURT...actually they already have.

    Try Virgin America...! they have the finest/newest equipment in the industry, best service and the best prices...I hope they go after the Alaska routes...!

    Southwest ain't bad either..

    Alaska Airlines SUCKS big time...!

    Bullshit price-gouging bastards with a monopoly into and out of Alaska

  15. I really liked EVA Airlines (Taiwan) when I flew it in 2004. It was like being back in the 80s - we in coach got our food (good hot food!) on real dishes, they passed out headphones to everyone, and everyone got slippers (disposable for coach, real ones for first class).

  16. Oh and let us not forget the 80 year old couple in the exit row.

    um are they really going to slam that handle up into the open position, deploy the slide/raft and assist the 300+lbs multi-seater off the aircraft. Not in a million years. I think I followed Jim in the airport once. bodies strewn all over the floor with sporks sticking out of their bodies and carry-onish luggage piled up near a truly insane looking TSA guy. oh nope that was a disaster relief drill. Sorry for the confusion.

  17. With all the things that chap your ass, it is amazing you have any ass left! :-)

  18. My least favorite is the leaning-back seats. Add that to the lack of leg-room for inducing misery, and a long airplane ride is just no fun at all.

  19. Vince, I have an official issue Navy CWO ass, it's tough like old saddle leather...

    ...and now you have that image burned into your brain. You're welcome.

  20. MY EYES!!! MY EYES!!! Brain-bleach please!

    My being vertically challenged helps on long airplane rides. I use my under-seat carry-on as a foot stool and prop my feet up a little bit, then scoot it back under to stretch my legs a little.

    And...there is a wondeful invention on the overhead console at every seat - the attendant call button. Like for when I've asked the jerk in front of me to tilt his seat up just a couple notches (AFTER he violently reclines all the way back crushing my traytable into my diaphram, thus preventing me from breathing) and he tells me to piss off, there's nothing I can do.

    Wrong jerko. You've already bruised my rib cage and I can't breath. The nice attendant will make you put your seat up a couple of notches because you really don't want a medical emergency at whatever our current altitude is!

    I asked to be moved one time because the person that parked their ass next to me was wearing some gawd awful scent I was violently allergic to. Actually, I think they moved the other person. Fine with me, I ended up with an empty seat beside me!!


  21. Damn it, Vince, get out of my brain. I was coming here to post exactly that comment.


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