Monday, August 11, 2014

Ten or so reasons why flying is more terrifying than ever

Photo courtesy Tumblr.

One of the most important qualities of a successful blogger is relevancy. This writer is currently crafting an article 30 thousand feet up in the sky. You wouldn’t believe the amount of enjoyment derived from typing an article with a flight-related mildly unnerving headline. I’ve made sure to adjust the font to bold size 24 so that everyone walking up the aisle can get a good look.

My purpose: a list of the top ten or so reasons why I really don't want to be on this plane. 

1. Ebola Outbreak Mass Hysteria
The outbreak in West Africa is what news media likes to call the "Everlasting Gobstopper." It has unlimited potential for creating article after article of share-worthy content. Factor in the transport of two infected patients into the biggest international airport in the nation and wham, bam: mass hysteria ma’am. “The Top 7 Ways Ebola Kills You,” “10 places to avoid if you don’t want to contract Ebola,” “8 Reasons to be concerned about the biggest Ebola outbreak in modern history.” The point being is that departing out of Hartsfield-Jackson, just down the road from the CDC and their disease infested luxury jets is unsettling. And if you suddenly need medical care, never fear: the nearest hospital has become home to a half dozen reporters staking out Ebola-recovery headquarters. If you need me, I’ll be the girl in seat 13F rocking the circa 2009 H1N1 facemask.

2. Giant parasite monster reaper in the cargo hold
Who doesn’t love a good Sunday night mass infection drama? But some advice; binge watching every episode to date of FX’s new series The Strain during the 48 hours preceding takeoff is a horrible idea. In the second episode a guy gets his skull smashed in by the scariest manifestation of a tapeworm I’ve ever seen. For those who aren’t familiar, the key plot points include an epic fail on behalf of airport security resulting in a wooden coffin the size of a gosh darned swing set in the cargo hold. Next, everybody on the plane dies. Then they aren’t dead. Finally, their genitals fall off and they start sucking the insides out of beloved family pets. Considering rail travel yet?

3. Planes “disappear” like single men after they hear I have two children
Back in the day, 747’s were pretty much the one thing you could never lose. It’s not like misplacing your car keys or losing yet another cell phone to a night of dive bar debauchery. Planes have black boxes, GPS trackers, radar signals. They are also filled with hundreds of people. You don’t “lose” a plane. But if the past three months of news headlines have taught us anything, its that not only can they vanish, but after they do we all still file down the boarding ramp like we didn’t just witness the magician lose the rabbit in the hat. Do you just move on with the show and never address the obvious demise of the rabbit? It seems my lifelong practice of avoiding driving, boating or flying through any of the world’s triangular “danger zones” has been pointless. Apparently, the prestige is oblivious to geometry.

4. Pictures of crash victims’ carry-ons in my newsfeed
There is nothing like the memory of that photo you happened upon in your newsfeed of a charred teddy bear staring out at you from a mangled airplane seat to comfort you during turbulence. The most horrific tragedy in recent memory spawned the creation of the most heart wrenching photo slide shows you should never browse prior to flight. Although most of us have become disturbingly numb to the gore and sickness blaring from our newsfeed, the threat of being blown out of the sky is suddenly a possibility, no matter how remote. Has anyone made the point that just like Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, no one has yet to explain this mid-air tragedy either?

5. TSA’s “Expedited Security Screening”
Let me start off by saying if it wasn’t for the abbreviated security check I encountered at the airport this evening, I would have totally missed my flight. I’ve arrived drenched in sweat and out of breath at the gate before but today’s margin for error was infinitesimal. As I counted bodies ahead of me in line and tried to decipher just how long it would take the mother traveling alone to tie the shoes of all three of her grimy children; I was blessed with a miracle. Suddenly a uncharacteristically friendly TSA agent was telling everyone to leave their shoes on. “No really. Laptops can stay in their bags. Liquids do not need to be pulled out for inspection,” she told the throngs of travelers. What luck! I hastened my way right on through and thanked the airport god for my good fortune. Now however, I wonder why long lines and an anxious shift manager can justify the proclamation of “Half-assed terrorist prevention day” at the airport. Just saying.
Photo courtesy Tumblr.

6. No more hot towels in first class
That’s a fact. I’ve never flown first class in my life but I must admit, knowing those warm wet rags were available if the in-flight terror got to be too much to handle was comforting. The time honored comforts of those who didn’t choose to be journalism majors and could afford first class instead of a flight with three connections, are long gone.

7. I’m pretty sure “airplane bottles” are getting smaller
Given the current state of things you would think the opposite would be happening. I don’t profess to have the market research to back it up but I’m almost certain Big Gulps of SKYY vodka would be a big hit. (Maybe even enough to fill the gaping hole left by the departure of the hot towel.)

8. Flight attendants don’t try anymore
From what I’ve gathered watching movies like Catch Me If You Can, flight attendants used to really give their all before reporting to work. Crisp white dress shirts, flawless make-up and a cute navy scarf that said, “I want you to like looking at me.” Maybe the crew on my flight pulled an all nighter at the Holiday Inn in Milwaukee before completing this final leg of the trip. However if the fabulously gay flight attendant who sold me two bottles of vodka can take the time to curl his eyelashes, the rest of these women can at least smear on some concealer and keep me from having to look at the evidence of their bad decisions.

Carry on my fellow air travelers. Confront the fear of epidemic, sudden parasitic esophageal growths and weaker in flight beverages with a bravery that would make our forefathers in flight proud. And remember, I said "10 or so reasons" and I only came up with 8. Plus I have to stow my tray table. Because that's going to make ALL the difference. Not. Really. 


  1. Congratulations on crafting a funny but true blog article on fear of flying whilst flying at 30,000 feet yourself.
    With respect to:
    1 and 2) For some reason the 'Ebola Outbreak Mass Hysteria' and 'Giant parasite monster reaper in the cargo hold' scenarios reminded me of the TV series "Fringe";
    3) The planes "disappear" scenario is really weird. The D.I.A. in coordination with the CIA and NSA seems to be tracking everything on the planet to the extent that everyone's privacy has been obliterated, yet they "lose" something as big as a 747? That seems hard to swallow. There may be something to your hypothesis about the connection between being a censored/discriminated against single mom of 2 kids and the planes disappearing;
    4) The carry-ons in your news feed to me are encouraging. My impression is that over-zealous TSA and Homeland Security people like to blow up those stuffed animals on the runways to scare children and make sure the stuffed animals don't have explosives in them, so it's nice to see that they're still allowing stuffed animals on airplane flights; ;
    5) TSA's "Expedited Security Screening" seems like a positive for me. I'm not eager to get gate-raped, molested, or have a free colonoscopy in order to travel (although maybe having a pretty TSA agent cop a cheap feel wouldn't be that bad. Maybe they should just let everyone fly in their underwear - that would make some interesting news stories;
    6) They had hot towels? Who knew?
    7) Chalk one up for having gotten sober. I no longer covet those cute airplane booze mini-bottles;
    8) Have you considered the possibility that the TSA might have confiscated the flight attendants' makeup?;

    My biggest flying fears would be that the airline had used over-tired underpaid pilots, or too-old planes with metal-fatigue or worn out parts, or that there had been maintenance issues.

    I hope you'll let me know if I've been pre-approved to fly in my underwear for security purposes.

  2. Nice job! The TSA make-up-delay-caused-by-the-X-ray-trainee can be a Godsend.

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