Receding Airlines

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Traveling is an ordeal. I don’t know why anyone ever goes anywhere. Our ancestors had the right idea: live your entire life in the village where you were born, and if you venture out on a trek, assume you’re going to freeze to death, get lost, or be attacked by ring wraiths.

Air travel, which is supposed to be the fastest and most convenient method of transportation, is actually the most arduous. Even when things go smoothly, it’s exhausting. Our bodies simply weren’t designed to be shoved into giant metal cylinders and hurtled through the air at several hundred miles per hour. They definitely weren’t designed to withstand baggage fees.

I’ve noticed in my recent travels that the airlines have given up trying to provide superior service and relaxing accommodations, and have instead begun to focus on how much worse their competition is. Basically, they’re trying to one-up each other by claiming to be slightly less greedy than the other guy. Almost everyone charges you to check baggage now, so the contest is who charges the least, or how many bags you can check before the fees kick in. “Those guys? They charge you on your first bag! We don’t start until your second.” Put in those terms, it almost sounds admirable. Those heroic airlines! Letting you check a bag for free! What givers they are!

But as things get worse for the airlines, and as they all start doing the same greedy things, they’ll have to get more and more creative in identifying and emphasizing their strong suits.

“Southwest Airlines’ in-flight magazine is consistently rated among the least boring in the industry! Some readers actually finish entire articles!”

“At Continental, our flight attendants are forbidden from turning the safety announcements into a stand-up comedy routine. We’ll leave the jokes to those jokers at the OTHER airlines.”

“Tired of arbitrary, randomly chosen airline prices? Well, when you book a ticket on Delta, we promise that at least one other person on the same flight will have paid the same price you did — we guarantee it.”

“Some airlines try to take advantage of you by offering packets of peanuts that only weigh 1.2 ounces. But on United, you’ll always get the full, satisfying 1.3 ounces of peanuts — every flight, every time.”

“Are you sick of airlines that drive up prices by offering ‘frills’ like tiny packets of peanuts? Then fly Alaska Air, where we don’t insult you with minuscule snacks. And we pass the savings on to you!”

Eventually, they’ll have to start making things up.

“Certain other airlines employ monkeys to fly their planes instead of human beings. Not U.S. Airways. We hire only fully trained and qualified HUMAN pilots. Why? Because we believe your safety is more important than saving a few bucks. If that makes us a little unusual, so be it. U.S. Airways: All-human staff, on every flight.”

“Forcing passengers to leap off the plane before it’s done slowing down, to save on fuel costs? That might pass muster with SOME companies, but not American Airlines. On American, you’re welcome to remain comfortably in your seat until we’ve stopped at the gate — in fact, we insist on it. Some people call it going the extra mile. We just call it: courtesy. That’s American Airlines.”

“Are you tired of flying on planes where the aisles are filled with piles of human excrement? Then fly United, where every plane is thoroughly scrutinized before every flight, to make sure it’s in tip-top, human-excrement-free condition. Does this extra step cost us a few dollars? Maybe so. But we think making our customers feel comfortable, and preventing the spread of hepatitis and other excrement-borne diseases, is worth it.”

“It’s a fact: Over half of all commercial flights are sucked into wormholes, never to be seen or heard from again. But at Delta Airlines, we’re proud to say that not ONE of our planes has ever disappeared into an inter-dimensional anomaly in the time-space continuum. That’s a service record we’re proud of. Fly Delta. Why take chances?”

It’s obviously better for everyone if we all just stay where we are. Why would you need to leave home anyway? Home is where all your stuff is.

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