This was supposed to be me bashing the entire airline industry. Or at least the utterly horrific boarding process of a United States based budget airline who’s name I won’t say. But I will say it rhymes with Schmontier, and this still might be a bashing, or it might not be. I type away, awaiting the seat next to me (which is actually mine), to be filled by an incoming passenger. A flight attendant up front once again informs us that yes this is a completely full tin can today. It’s sardonic. Or maybe sardine-like. I’m not really sure anymore. Another attendant strolls the aisle asking if everyone here is going to Florida. Ma’am, I think it’s pronounced Floriduh, even with my highly Canadianish Buffalo accent. Si señorita, I’m southbound. She wasn’t really interested in anyones response, as two passengers who apparently can’t count to 7 and have sat in the wrong rows.
One point twenty one jiggawatts and I’m back at the gate — before boarding — the intercom system is apparently broken, so gate employees are shouting orders out loud to passengers. This is not a good look. Feels more like the boarding gate in Europe or Asia, and not in the good way. It’s been so long since I’ve been either of those continents that I’m not really sure about that comparison either. This shit is a mess though. We’re alerted that the mask mandate is still really real, and the airline will throw us off the plane if we don’t comply — because as the not so polite woman says “we’re looking for five seats”. Huh? What? Spidey senses suggest something certainly stupid. So is thing overbooked? Why would you do that to people ?
I am in “Zone 4”, seat 5E. Middle seat. Didn’t pay for a bag. Didn’t pay to pick a seat. Definitely no goddamn travel insurance. I won’t even be getting a coffee. I’m here on this flight solely for its lack of layover. If I’m being honest, I really don’t like budget airlines unless they’re in Asia or Europe. Here is the US & A, the oft-paraded phrase of American exceptionalism somehow demands that I demand a more 1977 era flight experience, motherfuckers. You know, shit like spiral staircases, exposed cleavage and general mile high debauchery — all for the common man or woman sitting in coach… I’m not holding my breath on such exceptional expectations. Maybe I’ll blame Obama.
Back in not disco boogie wonderland, “Zone 1” comprises 90% of passengers on this fucking flight. I have no idea how this works. I’m wondering why the hell there are zones 2, 3, 4, and 5 at all? Once that first group boards, it’s only like me and 25 people left. That woman working the gate finally has the intercom functioning and I hear “we’re now going to board from the back of the plane, only rows 31-15”, and some sort of reasoning that sounds a lot like my mom telling me she’s doing this for my own good. Murmurs about seats and not seats and this being the only flight today. I’ve got a bad feeling about this, Chewie. Moments later the same woman grows impatient and commands: “if you are not in rows 15-31, DO NOT BOARD THIS FLIGHT!”. That wording is slightly alarming. This is not going to end well… for somebody. I curiously walk up to the counter and say, “Hello, I’m in zone 4… are we boarding by zones or by rows now?”. All this dumb bitch can do is repeat herself verbatim to me: “if you are not in rows 15-31, DO NOT BOARD THIS FLIGHT!”. Hmmmmm. There is no amount of money I would accept to not get on this plane — not that I’d expect any airline to offer much of anything at this point. I am not about to be that dude watching the plane take off while being fed some lame ass excuse as to how I paid for something weeks ago that I was assured I had and now I somehow don’t. I use my eyeballs and jump my ass into line at the first yield of a kind passenger, well before row 5 is called. I get my nobody ass on the plane before someone else with seat 5E does it.
Time isn’t real, so we can pretend that we’re all caught back up. One attendant isn’t giving a fuck that that I am indeed going to Florida and the other one is telling us all that this flight is full and every seat will indeed get a butt in it; now a third attendant asks me if anyone is sitting in the window seat next to me. I look over and wonder if dude is hallucinating because it sure doesn’t look like someone is sitting there. I affirm that it’s empty. He thanks me. I ask if I can move over into the seat. On some Carlton Banks shit, he gives me the wink and the gun. I have no idea what’s going on but fuck it, I slide over. I seem to have gone from an overbooked to an underbooked flight. The doors lock and I go from “oh shit am I getting stuck here” to “oh shit I’ve got all sorts of stretch out space”. I’m amused that I get the seat with a seat for free, being all zone 4 and shit.
Hours later and it’s a eyeful of subdivisions, gated communities and cul de sacs galore and I descend into the sunshine state. Plus palm trees and tropical temperatures and a bright fiery ball in the sky I haven’t seen in a minutes. That’s the good stuff. That and the fact that day one awaits, mañana.