Air Forced One: And The Seven Commandments of Flying
Attempt 6 to begin a book began with humorous travel anecdote, but it was hard to keep up the tone of the piece, and mold every piece in its vein thereafter. This was written over a decade ago, when I was in my early twenties and hated kids, and wanted to get my tubes tied.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….Yule logs burning in some New York Kitchens, and a partridge on a pear tree! There is all this Christmas spirit floating in the air, and whiffs of it are getting tangled in my curls as I scurry past an onslaught of gates and shops in the Dubai airport to my resting haven, the lounge on level four. Every year, just around Christmas time, I decide to board an overcrowded flight with bawling infants, gallons of wine and several thousand shopping bags bearing gifts, so that I can experience the satisfaction of singing carols to the mile high club. I know, you are thinking wow Mile High Club, sounds bloody exclusive; can I get in on it? Well I thought so too until recently, because until recently I thought it was an interchangeable phrase: ‘gold/platinum status frequent flier program’ and the ‘Mile High Club’. I quickly realized something was very off when the male in question looked utterly puzzled after a joke took a terrible twist and wound up involving me in a brazen 28,000 feet above sea level sex scandal. He narrowed his eyebrows at me as he asked, ‘How on earth could you be part of the Mile High Club!?! I still did not catch on, I was like well it isn’t called that nowadays…it’s just called the frequent flier program. Hahaha, in the words of the albatross, what a total ‘dingle-hopper’ I turned out to be at the end of that conversation, sigh… so much is lost in translation, …and so much more that simply WASN’T!
What I had meant to say was that I was part of the premier frequent flier program, what I had- unbeknownst to me at the time- admitted to was a raging sex life at cruising altitude. Heaven help me, if only that were the case. We, as in the plural of me, are acutely aware of how categorically untrue that little bit of non-trivia is. Faked fornication is by far the most depressing form of all, as it isn’t even tangible; needless to say I was profoundly embarrassed.
First Commandment of Flying: Don’t ever talk about the Mile High Club; it earns you token comments that up until now have been featured only on America’s Funniest Home Videos. These said comments can make your face turn the brilliant reds sported successfully ONLY by male baboons on heat and some Revlon models.
I was determined to not let jet lag get the better of me this year. By Pete, I swear, I shall not have my red and gold thunder held hostage by an in-flight meal and/or in-flight attendant this time around. No sireeee, this year things are going to be done differently, this year I am intent on taking Christmas by its nuts-n’-mistletoe, this year I shall squeeze all the festive splendor out of its shaft, and use it to lubricate my miserable end of year sulking routine. Believe me when I say my Christmases and New Years have traditionally been gutter stock suck-fests, I mean they have been so bad that you would opt to get your spleen removed over being my companion for said holiday season. So this year, yes I shall invoke the positive mantras of holly, and milk the ghost of Christmas-Past from its horn of cornucopia. To be perfectly honest I need all the merry I can get, under-sexed, over-worked, sleep deprived, party deficient, cerebrally malnourished, and in constant contact with witless ghouls from my production cycle…seriously? If there was a breaking point, this moment here would be it. Great! A mother of two younglings, (estimated ages: 4 and 6) just slid into the three seats between me and the nearest emergency exit, with half of Lego Land. Why are more parents flying their vermin off-shoots club class these days? If I had a child I would gladly hand it over to a pack of wolves in exchange for a wolf pup. If that were a reality series, it would actually be quite inspired, I’d have my pup toilet trained in three days of pointing at newsprint, and the wolf mother would be licking after the human catastrophe two years into her parenting experience. Disgusting miniature beasts of burden that can’t do anything for themselves…blech, how my ovaries shudder at the sight of them.
Second Commandment of Flying: Never sit beside a family that considers bringing Lego Land on board, as a viable solution to childhood boredom. It isn’t…and several of those plastic pieces end up in places they shouldn’t ever be in: nasal shafts, ear canals, underpants, mouths, toilets, sink drains, wine, my half dried steak with a side of mash and spurious mushroom gravy…
How to occupy yourself on board: There is an extensive list of entertainment options to choose from: Movies, Music, television shows, changing diapers on self-defecating ‘bundles of joy’, blonde co-passengers with low self esteem whom if you stare at more than once feel the inherent need to powder their noses a zombie grey, hot male (or female, if that’s your thing) stewards who are a bell summon away, and comfort in the air exercises.
Third Commandment of Flying: Performing Comfort in the Air exercises will make you look like a total amateur, veteran fliers just pop in a couple of valium with hard alcohol, this enables them to arrive coffin friendly at their destination port. This is a far better option to improving circulation, as it saves on having to endure a return flight at a later date.
Immigration and Customs: To men this must feel like a close second to a rectal exam, to women it can be paralleled to filing out an application on Match.com, because that’s how invasive it feels. There are two questions raised at immigration hubs across the globe, so to make matters easy for everyday civilians I have listed the answers beside the respective enquiries:
Purpose of Visit: To mate with the natives and introduce genetic variation into your racial inbreeding program.
How long do you plan to stay: That all depends on how far the locals cooperate with my efforts.
(Then if you really want to seal the deal, you could grow a pair and try out a pick up line on the Immigration Officer).
Security Screening: Just throw your bags on the belt and forget to claim them on the other side if they beep during the scanning process. If you beep during the scanning process there is only one thing to do, bring out your portable stripper pole and sashay your ass for some dollar bills, they won’t let you off for anything less.
Boarding: I never hear pre-boarding announcements. If I flew economy I would never get anywhere. I am invariably the last passenger to board any given flight on any given day, during a period of boarding known as ‘THE GATE HAS BEEN CLOSED MADAM, HURRY’.
Lounge Refugee: Shoot emails or your self at the Business hub, this is by far the most productive way to spend your ‘lounge’ time, because frankly there is only so much HOO-MUS and stale Saran-wrapped bread one can consume before they feel like barfing.
The Pyramidal Structure: People treat you like crap no matter which tier or class you fly, but I think the customer service is better in First than in cargo, so I would purchase my tickets accordingly, if I were you.
Fourth Commandment of Flying: The Pyramidal structure of airbuses are arranged in a descending order as follows: Pilot’s Lap (Mile High Club), Cockpit, First, Business, Premier Economy, No Smoking Latrines in Premier, Hanging by The Curtain that separates the Classes, Cattle Class, Cargo. To play it STD safe, I opt between First and Business, but hey if you want to get in on the prior two classes, then you may have to contend with crabs on plane post an episode of snakes on plane, and you you’ll be able to fault no one but yourself for it.
Fifth Commandment of Flying is regarding Flight Attendants: The most important thing to remember when interacting with flight attendants is to never make eye contact. Like the Cobras of East Africa, they have mastered the art of firing their spittle right into your retina, and they aren’t afraid to showcase their skill. Don’t come crying to me later, you have officially been forewarned.
In the off-chance a flight attendant is reading my blog: I do know a lot of you out there who are fabulous, friendly and fun, so as a diplomatic post note, let me add, that not all Flight Attendants are fire breathing bats out of hell.
Air Force F-ttitude: I recently sat beside a genetic anomaly that was a careful cross between a magnified decrepit Godzilla, and a warty Horned Toad. It was a highly enriching symphonic experience to say the least; it was almost as though I had gotten seated beside a sleep aid machine that was playing a recording titled, ‘Cacophony in Bass: The Amphibian Courting Scale’. She belched blarged and burped as though she were in possession of a throat sack. Despite my best efforts I cannot express in mere words the phonetic range that her oral orifice managed to expound. Her appearance only further confirmed my worst fears of mutation. Her tongue and mouth resembled and flicked in the exact same manner of a toad, her eyes carried the same glazed over, waxy expression, her facial structure was a Madame Tussads replica of a Jabbaesque Horned Toad. Needless to say, she has left an indelible imprint on my mindscape. I will never forget her.
Sixth Commandment of Flying dwells on Exit Rows: Peasant duels over leg room often take place on this row, and are thus best avoided at all costs.
Emergency: A state of crisis that is seldom reached by the carrier vessel, which renders all information gathered about passenger safety prior to take off utterly useless. If you feel inclined to the adrenal rush simulated by the possibility of a crash landing then you as an individual can do a number of things to cause such a situation. 1) Wait for the flight to be cruising at its optimum altitude. Stand up at your seat area and asseverate to your fellow passengers that you find it absolutely necessary to perform a live demo of the emergency exit evacuation as portrayed by doped up animated figures on their in-flight manuals. Announce each step before executing it for a dramatic effect. 2) Take your plastic meal utensils and create an effigy of the pilot, this way you can be in charge of steering the plane from the comfort of your very own seat. Do a couple of barrel turns to liven things up. 3) Sing at your highest pitch; think opera as you belt it out. If all goes well the windows will shatter and result in the loss of cabin pressure, the dropping of oxygen masks and the shutting up of all loud-mouthed babies and their respective lullaby wailing parental units. 4) Take the intercom hostage, and then make a statement composed of only the following words and phrases: “Muslim” “terrorist” “knitting needles” large toothpaste tube” “Bin Ladin” “ISIS” “Bomb” “More than 100ml” “Liquids” “Final Destination” “snakes on plane” “Decompression Sickness.” Then tell the crew, “I want to get off NOW and it’s in your best interest to let me do so!” I am pretty sure that no one will contest your reasoning after you mention that you have on board more than 100 Ml of lotion on the plane.
Seventh Commandment of Flying: Don’t ever wake me up when I am reclined flat with my eye mask on, my plugs in my ears, cocooned beneath two blankets. The only conditions under which it is okay to stir me up, is if the flight is crashing, or landing, otherwise plug your pie hole, I am not interested. Hell hath no fury like me roused awake in a confined tin can that I have no choice but to share with toddlers and infants.”
In the world we live in today, there are two realities one simply cannot overlook, 1)that farting is the leading cause of global warming, especially when emitted by produce and livestock 2)Air-travel results in irreparable brain damage. If you have to wonder a Plato 'why' about the latter claim, then you obviously haven't traveled with any of the following exhibits on board: an infant in need of an exorcism, a geriatric hippo that does not know where the throne in the loo starts or ends, a stewardess who would be better qualified to serve as an undertaker, and an in-flight meal that is three parts gamma radiation and two parts yesterdays sink gunk.
Why Even subject your to flying?
Here's the pathetic truth, at some point of time in life, everyone ends up having to take to this skyward mode of transportation to go somewhere far, ASAP. Some people tend to do this routinely, and these people function on a single lung and kidney, because they have had to hawk their spares on the black market, to afford the poorly regulated, consistently rising air fares. Air-fares cost internal organs nowadays for two reasons: 1.Carbon emissions 2. Escalating fuel prices. Travelers are now paying for their carbon foot prints, which according to Gordon Brown's inspired speech about the negative green impact of improper air fuel combustion, are flatulent imprints purged by frequent-fliers post their in-flight meals, a sad common side effect of in-flight indigestion. Apparently any gas manufactured as a result of a person's personal choices, such as Asian-Vegetarian or Continental Gas-tronomical bland bites, should be accounted for by the same person's personal wallet. In other words what Mr.Brown is really saying is, 'Pay not only for the gas you consume, but also for the gas you release,' according to him that seems like the only responsible thing to do. Now I have taken a poll that shows contrary results. My poll proves beyond doubt, that a great range of folks out there think that the only responsible thing to do is to shove their carbon foot prints up the rear socket of either Mr.Brown or Mr.Gore. You see, what they fail to factor in is the progressive arithmetic of air fares, fares that poor unfortunate souls known as 'paying customers' have to put out for continually. As a result of doing the only responsible thing there is to do (as proposed by the Prime Minister in his speech), there exists a growing population of homeless fliers. Having already depleted their 401Ks and hawked their spare internal organs, these folks have now been forced to sell the fraction of their personal properties that they do own to get from point A to point B and back. All for what? To afford the total displeasure of being strapped down to a seat like an escape mental patient and treated like dung aboard a scrap metal Chinatown bus by men and women who were formerly part of Ghengis Khan's army.
So it is that you have decided to dig deep into your pockets and spill for a round trip to a town that is a loooooong way from home, but you should be aware that due to the airline's innate ability to lose a great variety of things- such as, baggage, days, passengers, cabin pressure, meal orders, a person’s will to live etc- you may NEVER get to this town that is a looooong way from home. Sometimes you might notice that airlines just like to function as ground transportation, giant buses capable of amazing engineering feats like orbiting the terminal and remaining motionless for hours on the tarmac. This is why flying should always be executed business or first class, because it makes the ordeal less painful. Don't get me wrong even in business and first the airline in question is capable of losing people, luggage, days, cabin pressure, meal orders and one’s will to live, but at least all lost items will wear VIP tags, so that means they acquire some sort of priority in the pecking order of life. VIP tagged items will often be lost as the VIP is checking in so as to ensure their eminent status even in worst case scenarios! Airlines also exhibit a strong affinity toward holding people hostage within their jurisdiction, to the extent that it results in the onset of Stockholm syndrome in its discombobulated captives. This is known to occur under numerous clauses, which I have alphabetized for you:
a) air traffic
b) bad weather
c) crisis in the middle east
d) delays due to unexplained phenomena
e) equipment failure/ malfunction
f) fuel stopover (i.e.refueling)
g) gas leaks in the air vents
h) hispid hijacker
i) internal incompetence
j) jerk captain
k) natural disaster
l) bomb threat
m) medical crisis
n) excess fuel load
o) ahead of or behind schedule to the destination
p) possible threat to homeland security
s) captain has had a stroke/heart attack
t) someone on the plane has decompression sickness
u) ice v) visibility w) water on the runway
x) xenophobic captain with sudden onset of his condition
y) to add miles to our year end status and last but not least
z) to inspire a new generation of mentally imbalanced people to turn homicidal.
Some carriers occasionally feel the need to mix it up for everyone on board, for this reason they tend to make unscheduled stops exactly like the Chinatown bus. These stops include but are not limited to: the Atlantic trench, the Hudson River (too soon?), the Pacific Ocean, Lego Land, Epcot Center, the Bermuda Triangle, London Aquarium, a country no one can pronounce etc…
Given all of this, I'm sure you have some basic questions, so I have compiled a list of FAQs:
What is an Airplane?
An airplane is a giant metal bird that is capable of falling from the sky at any given moment as a giant metal torpedo. It condenses socio economic dynamics into a microcosm that quickly makes it evident why paying an extra thousand for personal space was not a luxury but a basic human need.
When should you opt to fly?
...when you have surplus time, time that can effectively be donated to the transatlantic or transpacific black hole. If you thought that time travel was impossible think again. When you fly from east to west, you dive into the past and rediscover the primordial soup you emerged from and if you fly from west to east you arrive in time for Charlton Heston's line, "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" in the final chapter of the Planet of the Apes. You see this is another big minus that long distance fliers need to bear in mind. A lot can change in the present, a tense that is always actively lost to cruising altitude. The planet for one can be taken over by talking apes and for another Aladdin may be selling his infamous carpet for a fraction of your airfare in the Middle East, but you won't witness either, as you will be trapped in a pressurized pod chamber twiddling your thumbs.
There are lots of things that can be experienced only aboard an air craft, but one of the key things is food poisoning at 28,000 feet above sea level. Just imagine, for the hefty cost of a round trip you and every co-passenger can finally claim to have something in common with Edmund Hillary! Now isn’t that a rare privilege, one that you desperately want to endure? Another key thing that can be experienced at 28,000 feet above sea level is UTI, because all civility is lost amongst passengers at altitude. The definition of urinating into a toilet bowl devolves into lining the latrine from ceiling to floor in golden showers. Much to my chagrin this loss of common decency in maintaining common areas, has been embraced by young and old alike and thus can’t be pegged to a demographic. People can do this sort of uncultivated Neanderthal nasty and get away with it because they have the perfect 28,000 feet above sea level alibi: Turbulence.
Purchasing your Ticket: Before you go in to the booking office, or online, write down, on a clean piece of paper, the most you are willing to fork over for your flight sectors. Hand over your credit card to the ticketing agent. When the agent calls out the fare that corresponds to the digits you inscribed before entering the office on that clean piece of paper, announce BINGO! Then ecstatically jump about yelling I won! I won!
When to buy One-Way: When a) you don’t know your return dates b) you no longer feel patriotic, and consequently have declared yourself a heretic with no home c) you discover your ex is a raving lunatic and stalker d) you pulled off a Ponzi at your port of embarkation e) you have decided to assume refuge status elsewhere f) offshore accounts that haven’t been exposed in the Paradise papers, g) you have killed the Priceline negotiator because he was part of the Star Trek cast once upon a time, and you find his loss of integrity since Kirk depressing.
When to buy a round-trip: A round-trip should be purchased only if you intend on returning to the departure point at a later date. This might be necessitated by the fact that you hail from a country that doesn’t care to maintain diplomatic ties with any other nation on earth, and therefore requires you to be in possession of a stupid visa stamp to land at any other nation's port, on earth. This same rule might hold on intergalactic grounds as well, no reason for their space program to be any more diplomatically aligned than their terrestrial programs. The rubbish fact about visa stamps is that they unfortunately come coupled with expiration dates and thus force you into -drum roll please- round trip bookings... Other countries place quota limits and mandate a return be declared within 90 days or six months. So it might just be required to make you feel like an outsider. Don’t get too comfortable, you’re not actually welcome here.
The Thing about Airfares: is that they are predisposed to unpredictable fluctuations, not unlike teenage hormones. People often compare airline price jumps and price dips to the unstable highs and lows plotted by the stock market, because they figure such volatility, ought to correspond to Wall Street’s capacity to mood regulate. Unlike the financial district, I suspect airfares actually possess AI (Artificial Intelligence), and profoundly enjoy playing mind games with people world over. NASA actually has a psychic leading most of their expeditions in the off chance that their rockets suddenly decide to pull a funny during blast off. The psychic describes his job as mentally exhausting.
What it feels like for the customer in question: You go on numerous price negotiating web portals to locate the cheapest fare possible and just as you click purchase now, it reads, “Haha loser the price just went up by a grand, click now to get renewed price quote” and by the time you refresh the page the flight says that it is sold out for that date. After much clicking around and slapping your forehead raw, you will finally be able to provide your credit card information and buy your self a seat aboard a vessel that was actually purchased second hand at a police auction. You know this is true of some carriers cough Egypt Air cough Northeast Airlines coughRyan Air…oh this list is long and endless, I have my beef with plenty of carriers out there. It might just be easier to take LSD and let your imagination fly you from port to port, but no, you are determined to make this trip happen in a reality that isn’t entirely of your own making.
Visualization exercise: So the departure date finally arrives and you manage to get through all the scans and gates to your assigned seat. You settle in, let out a massive sigh of relief for having gotten this far, and then you scream "WTF!" Why? Because you just discovered that some lame hack on the same flight has managed to acquire a far superior seat for half the price you purchased your middle seat in cattle class for! The only thing you can take comfort in is the tranquilized passenger squatting below deck in an iron cage in cargo, who gave up his left lung to pay for the last available space allocation, an animal carrier, on board Flight 666 to hell. You think to yourself, oh well, at least there is some sort of airborne balance where air fares are concerned, with your price floating somewhere between the sums paid respectively by the hack in business and the sap in cargo.
Lessons Learned: The truth is you invariably end up feeling stiffed, because the up-up-and-away hunk of metal always manages to pull a one up on you. The most important rule of flying is to not let such price postmortems to get to you.
Do’s and Don’ts of Flying: In order to have a peaceful, secure and comfortable flight to your chosen destination, there are certain things that no passenger, not even you, should be allowed to bring on board. In my opinion here’s the true list, airlines don't know the half of it-
Don’t carry: Flammables, herpes, allergic reactions, water, duct tape, scissors, knives, glass, terrorist manuals, infants, people who aren’t potty trained, people who cannot shut up, sex toys, criminal tendencies, water pistols, real pistols, ammunition, knitting needles, unlabeled pills, labelled pills that aren’t legal in the destination country, anything over 100ml including your loaded wiener (jack off before you TSA), livestock, poorly trained pets, hitchhikers, plants, seeds, nuts, wood, wood chips, oil, fungus, bacteria, worms, smokes, drugs, liquor, chewing tobacco, chunky jewellery, chemicals, bombs, umbrellas, and old people who fart, young souls who vomit, people with an imbalances in their inner ear function.
Do carry: hope, 100 ml of moisturizer so you don’t step out looking like the undead, a travel pillow, a recording of choice insults on playback mode, a whistle in case you need to ask for the flight attendant’s assistance, acne medication to rub liberally onto all the spots traveling with you especially the one sitting beside you, and last but not least a highly potent sedative coupled with a strong will to live. Saddle up and enjoy your ride!