The Plane Truth: Part Deux—Or 5 Things That Would Make Flying Suck Less

by Rachel Gertz

1940's Pan Am Boeing 337, Flickr
Photo courtesy of State Library & Archives of Florida (via Flickr)

I’m sure you’ve had that dream before where you soar through the sky, your human arms stretched out like a 2x4 (either pumping furiously or dead, stick straight). The sheer liquid power of shooting through the sky transforms you into an unflinching machine. Whether you happen to be naked or not is your own business. 

Then you wake up and realize you’re just a lowly human, incapable of impressive flight (that is, unless your father was The Fly).

See, there’s so much more to flying than you ever imagined. I often stare up at the sky in amazement, wondering how a 400 ton metal bird with stiff, unmoving wings hovers in the air for hours. I am blown away by the sheer impossibility of this feat. Think about it: the only thing stopping you from dropping to your death is the fact that your body cavity is moving at speeds up to 500 kph and simply doesn’t have time to fall.

This is not normal. This might be a feat of human innovation, but it is most definitely outside the realm of what humans oughta do with their bodies. ¡Que excelente!

Yet we still allow ourselves to be beat up by the airlines & ports who bully us into submission. They have created ‘fake human flight’ and we tolerate their most abhorrent abuse because we need to get where we’re going. Think back to your last flying experience. If it was spectacular, what made it that way? 

Someone flashed you a smile or fed you champagne? —You were flying first class and think you’re better than everyone else. Your experiences are irrelevant.

Or

Your legs didn’t cramp up and your luggage arrived on the same continent as you? —Wow. Grandiose expectations there. Guess I won’t disappoint you when I give you a thumbtack for your birthday.

But, if you hated it….

Like 90% of travellers, you fit right in. Of course you hated your flight. Google “why airlines suck” and you’ll see a list of virtually every airline company ‘sucking’ for various reasons. The whole thing makes me furious and somewhat uncomfortable. 

Speaking of discomfort, it all starts with those damn airports. You arrive at all hours of the day or night only to stand in line to await your next checkpoint. Next, you bustle through crowds looking for your departure gate. Then you sit (bored to tears) until your flight boards you. 

I have a few ideas I’d encourage you to consider before you decide to commission your next airport. 

The Lines

First off, let’s look at the line system. Lord knows you stand in a lot of lines. Life lines. Lines of life. 

Line standing is about as interesting as paying taxes; and about as premeditated. We need a way to allow people to move forward towards their next checkpoint without losing their attention. The key: they must be having fun doing it. 

Picture this: 

Conveyor belts &….

  • Authentic, sporadic laughter piped in around unsuspecting passengers in line 
  • Videos of baby animals doing ordinary tasks like breathing
  • Random flash mobs singing the theme song to Airplane throughout the day
  • Tug of war rope that pulls you towards customs without your knowledge
  • Musical floor tiles that light up and play a tune when you stand on them. Chopsticks to ensue

All this would be done without the added weight of your luggage, of course. 

The Getting Around

Everyone knows that fancy airports contain two things that smaller airports like Calgary YYC don’t:

1. Those fabulous horizontal escalators that make you feel like you’re walking faster than everyone else.

2. Those weird little extended golf carts that transport elderly and disabled folks. Bossy drivers at the helm. 

It’s important to note that common folk don’t have access to both of these conveniences at the same time. You’re either old or in a hurry; darting through the crowds like a mackerel lost in worried anticipation. 

What if we combined the best of both technologies to create airport roller coasters? We could shape the roller coasters like mini jet planes and give them emergency slides. Young folks could scoot through the airport at a blazing pace, straight to their gate in style. Old folks could take the slow train and arrive without pulling a hamstring. 

No bossy drivers, intuitive branding, and a fun way to get through those tiresome airports. Beats walking.

The Airport Boredom

If you’ve ever been bored in an airport raise your hand. Bingo. You know as well as I do: airports are boring. They’re designed to keep you in fine lemming form, never questioning and always waiting for the next command or security threat. I propose a new world where airports are designed to entertain and relax you as you prepare for your flight.

First Relax…

  • A giant arboretum stuffed to the gills with trees and flowers. It would stream down from the glass roof, emitting soothing water sounds and scents of willow and lavender. No parrots though. Too much of a security risk 
  • Soft gong sounds to aid meditation while in line

Then Entertain…

  • Snack distributers lining every turn handing out cookie samples, coffee, and fresh veggie snacks
  • Even better: a sliding bar that glides past you offering sips of wine and beer
  • Mounted video clips of smiling babies. This one’s a wee bit creepy unless you like babies.
  • Giant projector screens playing the latest film releases (subtitles to display flight info and announcements)
  • Popcorn

The Plane 

Taking a flight is like committing yourself to sitting on a toilet for four to six hours with no flush. If those mottled blue seats were any less comfortable, we’d have a red ring around our asses and a mean case of herpes. Think it’s funny? Well, apparently flying puts you risk for DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and a few other lovely health risks. http://lt10.ca/dt A result of that compromised circulation. 

Now, how funny is it? 

If you’re not cringing, you haven’t flown recently enough to remember.  Rip that old pretzel off your ass. It’s been there for a month and looks like an angry haemorrhoid.

Let’s make it better. Imagine ergonomic Herman Millers, gel foot baths (with replaceable, compostable linings of course), as well as free microsuede pillows & blankets. A nickel will grant you a chair massage that would make Paris Hilton envious. Don’t forget the redecorating. Sterile grey and blue is out. Let’s get some taupes and creams in there with some romantic lighting. Scent the air lightly with satsuma and cinnamon and voila, a flight to remember.

The Entertainment

Did you know they’ve removed Continental’s in-flight movies? So you endure a four hour flight and all you get is the opportunity to watch TV for $6. Just swipe that credit card!

Bullocks. 

I have a better idea. Instead of charging patrons to watch TV while they sit in a hunk of metal traveling across the sky at 500 kph, give them a laser show. 

Or any of these other modest adventure packages:

  • giant hot tub party
  • live comedy in the aisles
  • karaoke fiesta (tune in through headphones)
  • fashion show
  • smurf wedding
  • adult flights complete with strippers and only a little bit of cocaine

So that’s that, really.

It’s simply not realistic to strap a jet pack to your spine and take off like the motherfuckin’ Rockateer. We need to use our heads and apply these practical flight suggestions to create a more zen-like flying experience. It is only through our own creativity that we can overcome the problems of flying with giant corporations like Continental Airlines.

Just think: an official grope by a TSA officer could be one day be a pleasurable experience! Keep dreaming, friends. Keep dreaming.

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