But I had a few thoughts on airplane travel, and since I’m kind of a, “think some shit and vomit it all back up at you lovely people” person, here we go.
I’m always afraid the guy who figured out our fuel for the flight forgot to carry the two.
On our way down to Vegas, our flight was diverted to a place called Ontario, California. The pilot explained that there were scattered storms around Las Vegas, and planes were being put into holding patterns until they could get clearance to land. Our fuel wasn’t sufficient to sustain that, so we were being diverted. We’d be refueled, and fly back to Vegas, which was about an hour long flight. So considering that here we are with clearly low fuel, and we have to take off and land one more time than I was counting on (I hate takeoff most, landing is a close second, and turbulence is third), I was pretty unhappy. Add to that the flight attendant said that because the flight between Ontario and Vegas was so short they wouldn’t be offering beverage service (I am forced to fly with significant levels of liquid courage), this wasn’t looking good for me.
Since I suck at math (see: Airplane Crashes, Probability Of, above) I just always assume that the calculations for these things are super complicated (because, you know, you have to burn fuel to carry fuel) and worry that the guy who did them for our flight just found out his wife is having an affair with another woman, or his 16 year old daughter is dating a known drug dealer, or dealing with some other personal crisis that might distract him from his calculations. I know, I know these things are all done by computers these days, but someone has to input the data to make the calculation happen at some point, and so I worry.
(Update: we did not crash.)
If I were a flight attendant, I would be fired for scolding people who wanted to use the restroom before takeoff for not going before they left home.
On our flight (make that flights, plural) down, one Asian gentleman got up to use the restroom no fewer than seven times. Two of them before we even left the gate. Since I didn’t use the restroom the whole time (ew, get me started someday on public restrooms—thank god my bladder capacity is “camel”), I have no idea if he had a significant problem, or if he just had a very small bladder (but if the latter, dude, lay off the selection of complimentary beverages, would you?), but his trips to the potty seemed excessive. If I’d been the flight attendant, I’d have probably said more than I should have, especially about the pre-flight visits when everyone was trying to store their steamer trunks in the overhead bins. Sit. The. Fuck. Down.
For whatever reason, I get more free booze from flight attendants than I probably deserve. Or need.
Maybe because I’m clearly a white knuckle flier, or maybe because I’m often flying with multiple small children, flight attendants seem to take pity on me and sometimes provide me with as much free booze as I can soak up. On the first flight of our most recent trip, over the space of three hours, I was given three free bottles of white wine (those little ones, you know). In the past, on cross country flights, I’ve been given up to five or six (I don’t drink them—once I reach my limit I start stashing them in my purse so that I don’t have to pay for overpriced wine at our destination). On many flights earlier in my life sympathetic flight attendants gave me multiple free mini bottles of vodka (when I was still a vodka drinker, in my carefree youth). It’s not always free—I’ve paid for it plenty of times. But lots of times they just give it to me.
On this particular flight, I was traveling alone with my four kids. They were giving me all kinds of trouble getting into their seats. Not that they were bad, but they were constantly saying, “Hey Mommy…hey Mommy…hey Mommy…” (and for those Moms with children who don’t yet talk, or don’t talk in full sentences, two words of advice: 1) Their first word will probably be “dada.” You want to encourage this, and 2) I know you’re thinking, “I can’t wait until the day they can speak in full sentences, and express their thoughts, and converse!” Take it from me: Yes you fucking can). Finally they were all in their seats and I looked back at the flight attendant in the galley who had been watching this whole seating process, smiled sweetly, and said, “What time does your beverage service start?” She laughed and said, “Fifteen minutes after takeoff.” And free wine was forthcoming, bless her heart.
When did a water landing stop being “unlikely”?
When I was flying back in the 80s, and even into the 90s, I recall that the wording of the safety demonstration was, “In the unlikely event of a water landing, your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device.” And they’d go on to explain about the straps and your arms and whatnot. But in the last ten or twenty years, I’ve noticed they’ve dropped that word, “unlikely” from their little speech. I have flown from landlocked destination to landlocked destination in my day, and still they don’t say “unlikely.” Particularly in those cases, I wonder what major body of water we’ll be flying over that would make a water landing not-unlikely in the event that we were to go down.
I mean, I get it—I remember the Air Florida crash in Washington, DC in February of 1982 or ‘83, when the plane flew into the 14th Street Bridge and everyone ended up in the icy Potomac River and a bunch of people died. I also remember the more recent incident when the pilot “ditched” into the Hudson River in New York City and I’m pretty sure everyone lived. And there is some water near us, sure, but there’s way more land than water, so I’m still a little curious. Also, it’s not like water landings have become sort of the norm since the 80s and all the cool pilots are doing them. They’re still incredibly rare, as far as I can tell.
Also, for panicky hyper-terrified freaks like me, when they omit that small but significant word they might just as well be saying, “Kiss it all goodbye, and prepare to go down to your watery grave, you goner. I hope your insurance premiums are current.”
I can never hear airport announcements without thinking of that “red zone/white zone” dialog over the loudspeaker in the movie “Airplane."
"Listen Betty, don't start up with your white zone shit again."
As a result of this, I spend most of my time in airports snickering quietly to myself, which I alternate by dreading the flight I’m about to get on. Laughter, terror, laughter. It’s sort of the story of my life, anyway.
So those were the thinks I thinked during our travels. Come back later when I’ll spew some mental vomit about my experiences with Las Vegas! With an offer like that, you should be counting the seconds, right?!?