The indignity of flying in a plane.
To borrow an observation from an astute friend who flew internationally more recently than I, there is a great indignity that comes with flying steerage class. I now share his contempt for the soul crushing shame of modern middle class aviation; somewhere between being grudgingly coddled with hallow, calloused, court-ordered hands at an institutional daycare and herded with cattle-shaped meat bags in some industrial feedlot, all for just under the insulting price of $1000. No amount of interactive television/movie selections can prepare, distract from or relieve the absolute humiliation of feeding time. Paltry, vapid rations befitting and possibly inspired by a refugee camp jail’s infirmary. Sinister airline numbers (space & price) are moving in opposite directions than passengers’ numbers (weight & salary) and we might all benefit from being anesthetized before takeoff and stored like lumber over bedpans. Airline hostesses will then have earned their “flight attendant” re-branding.
Last week’s Charlotte to Paris US Air flight presented the unsavory choice of pasta or chicken with rice. The decision was swift and deliberate: avoid any protein from the most soulless, mistreated, inferior, environmentally offending animal and any simple starch that even a revered Top Chef contestant with tattoos can’t get right. The only immediate regret however was not to have followed mother’s enlightened fuga modus operandi and ordered a special kosher/hindu/vegawhatever meal prior; some lesser of all evils sustenance that generally demands an underpaid laborer’s modest amount of special attention and perhaps respite from the drool inducing tedium of feeding us suckers. The hopelessly naïve neighbor was appropriately and predictable disgusted by her choice of “chicken”, though also confused by underwater cities named “Egypt”, “Bismark” and “Lusitania” on the interactive in-flight map.
The pasta was slightly better than the creepy manicotti impostor at Washington Medical Center though the accompanying salad with it’s single slice of cucumber and two currant sized tomatoes could have been squeezed into a thimble. The chewy (possibly undercooked) cookie bar with Lilliputian chocolate chip was alleged to have been “hand made” and the ingredients list went a step further by indicating that said 1oz. slice of dough was “made with love” as well. Cute. $7 for a shitty beer or plonk however is scandalous. I sincerely hope the executive fat cats from airlines who sanction such airway robbery get syphilis and that their internet stops working.
“Breakfast” was an affront to the morning ritual, my Danish heritage and humanity. A limp, doughy something with some shitty pastry cream inside, sealed in a plastic back and tossed to me on a napkin like I was some fucking seal with opposable thumbs, manners and a sweet tooth. Coffee would come much, much later. Bewilderment. Like the traditional legacy or mandated nostalgia with “no smoking” signs. When was the last time someone fired up a Pall Mall on a plane? I sincerely hope the executive fat cats from airlines who sanction such food practices get staph infections on their genitals and that their houses burn down.
I can recall a time when being a passenger commanded respect and dressing up to fly didn’t mean dressing down to something with an elastic waistband. I remember getting starched on free wine and booze, a suitable portion of stuffed breaded chicken breast for dinner, am inspired (by airport cafeteria standards) salad of sorts and a bona fide breakfast in the morning. On a tray. With simple bread. And butter. Or jam! With a cup of orange juice. And a small cup for my coffee. I am, however, grateful for the FAA mandated nostalgia of eternally lit “no smoking” sign which reminds me and other masochistic airborne ballast a not fire up a Pall Mall during the insufferable idle between repast and elixir.
I would also like to remind my fellow international seat warmers to leave with roomy collapsible luggage and check it like any other civilized passenger. The extra 15 minutes spent at the carousel with smuggled sundries will not be in vain and others’ flight won’t start and end with an ass in their face while impatient rubes struggle to cram “object A” into smaller “space B”.