Life
by Will Levith on December 10, 2013

People back in the day used to get dressed up to fly and eat gourmet dinners. Now they dress in sweatsuits and get charged exorbitant amounts for shitty, tasteless food. Not to mention the fact that the stewardesses — as they were called back then — were all really hot women, who wore suggestive air-wear and waited on bros hand and foot. Nowadays, flight attendants are, uh…next topic.

So I pose this question: When was the last time you flew anywhere in the world and felt like it was something special? I can almost guarantee that the last time you traveled by airplane it was just shy of the worst experience of your life.

Look, I totally respect the fact that America has upped the ante on pre-boarding security; the last thing I want is for some hijacker to pull another 9/11. But the last 20 times I’ve flown — and I don’t fly all that often — I’ve been thoroughly angered by the experience.

To get things started, most airlines board passengers in sections. These are usually based on how much you spent on your seat. It’s like they want you to feel like the gym-class loser who always got picked last. If you’re not a “golden shower member,” getting on the plane requires you to join a giant, snaking line — not so dissimilar from the one at the post office.

Next thing you know, you’re in that airless tapeworm that you walk through to get to the plane; and find yourself in an even longer, slower line. You know that policy that says you can carry on one small piece of luggage and a smaller item like a backpack or a purse? It’s total bullshit. By the time you get to the front of the line, all of the overhead compartments are full of the dumb shit the sweatsuit-wearing assholes who got on before you stuffed into them, and the airline forces you to check your bag. You didn’t check your bag for a reason: Because you didn’t want to check your bag. Now you have to, and the reason is 5-year-old-worthy: “just because.”

Once you’ve finally boarded the plane, there isn’t enough room for you to roll your suitcase down the aisle, so you have to pick it up and haul it in front of you (that is, if you weren’t forced to check it). You end up bumping shoulders with every other person you walk by. It’s like a highly uncomfortable game of duck-duck-goose. And when you finally arrive at your seat, the overhead compartment is filled to the brim with everything imaginable: coats, bags, gifts, toys. And you’re forced to block the aisle, while you try to jimmy your bag into a space the size of a pinhole. This, of course, brings the line to a standstill.

Now you have to get into your seat. That requires you to ask a perfect stranger in a sweatsuit to get out of her seat, so you can get into yours. The space between seats is enough to fit Kate Moss with a tapeworm. It’s like being stuck at the Apple Store around the holidays; you have about enough room as your bag did in the overhead compartment.

Mind you, all of this has taken place before the airplane is even moving. You feel as though you’ve lived two lives by the time that little grunt occurs, and the plane starts taxing out of its gate. You see that little guy outside your window with noise-blocking headphones on and those little glowsticks, doing whatever the hell it is he does, and then you’re on your way to the runway.

But you’re really not. You’re actually on your way to a lengthy, bathroom-less delay, while the plane itself gets into a line. That line could be 10 minutes long. It could be 20. Dammit, I’ve read about hours-long waits. And this all occurs just because. No bathroom breaks, no snacks or beverages served. Not a damned thing.

Of course, your last option is to fire up your mobile phone and send a bunch of bitchy tweets at the airline’s Twitter handle, hoping that their dingbat social media guy or girl @-replies you and makes this wrong a right. Usually, that’s in the form of a hotel or flight voucher. Really, you just want your dignity back. You want to feel like you did before setting foot in that godforsaken plane. And that’s pretty much impossible.

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