This Saturday I shall take to the friendly skies as I head home to visit my mom. She’s had a health scare recently. Although she appears to be fine I still like to “pop in to town” to let her know I love her.
This got me thinking of an old article I wrote about flying. There are many old articles I have written about flying, in fact. This one, however, made me laugh out loud while reading it to my son tonight. And so I present to you, my lovely audience, the re-printing of My In-Flight Style (originally published October 9, 2011):
When Flying Was Glamorous
Just came across an article on Foxnews.com detailing the level of formality (or lack thereof) people choose to display when flying, particularly evident in their attire.
I can remember my dad, who was born in the 1930’s, always recalling how “in the old days” people didn’t dare attempt to board an airplane unless they were appropriately dressed. It was as much a social thing as it was a matter of pride. Apparently this meant men wore suits and ties, ladies wore a nice dress. To him, people getting on planes in jeans, shorts, tee shirts, generally unkempt was an abomination. I’ve been watching that new show Pan Am* and I can see what he meant. It must have been an incredible time to fly!
According to the article there are six basic in-flight styles ranging from the “ethnic adventurer” (whatever that is) to the “beleaguered parent” (which I have been on a few occasions). For instance, the “suited frequent-flyer” is, as the name implies, one who flies a lot, typically for business. He or she is recognized by the ability to pack everything with precision into a perfectly regulation sized carry-on bag, and zip through security like it’s no one’s affair. This person has been around the TSA screening line before and his or her sole purpose at the airport is utilitarian. Get in. Get on board. Get to the destination.
After much thought I have decided to review my own recent airport episodes and have concocted two profiles. The first is the type of flier I imagine myself being and the second is who I actually am.
The Flying Man I Want to Be
In a perfect world, I am driven to the airport in a black Lincoln Towncar. Although I banter freely with the driver I am not personally interested in his life — except in so far as it is fodder for my blog. Oh, I forgot to mention, there is soft smooth jazz being piped into the back seat of my ride. I am neatly pressed in my appearance, calm in my demeanor, and ever so excited about my destination. I am delivered curbside where a skycap opens the door, collects my bag, which is black and showcases an elegantly stitched “HARVEY” near the top. Another skycap hands me a chilled Sapphire and tonic and leads me to the lounge. I, of course, given my importance, bypass security altogether. Once in the lounge I mingle effortlessly with the elite of the world and we trade quips about the weather and the latest offerings from Brooks Brothers. A stewardess dressed in stylish garb approaches. “Mr. Harvey, we’re ready for you. But first, the captain wishes for you to review his flight plan for your satisfaction.” “Gladly, my dear”, I respond, my voice now bearing a strange British accent. As we walk through the jetbridge I pass framed 8×10 sepia-toned prints of myself holding plastic models of various aircrafts, not smiling, simply presenting. After checking in with the flight crew I am seated. Another stewardess switches out my drink while still another approaches with a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and still a third offers to light my cigarette. My sportcoat has been placed on a hanger and my shoes stowed overhead. I am now in a red velvet robe and slippers. The flight is magnificent — no turbulence — and we land safely, three hours ahead of schedule and, miraculously, my hair is still in perfect form.
The Flying Schmoe I Really Am
Meanwhile in the realm of reality, I am dropped at the curb by my wife in our white Chrysler Town & Country. The musical selection is Veggie Tales’ The Princess and the Pop Star. I try to offer my kids a heartfelt kiss good bye. “Daddy’s going on a trip now. I love you!” “Hurry up, I’ve got to get back in time for Pan Am“, my beautiful spouse informs me as she tosses my bag out the door and speeds away. At this point I realize I have left my phone in the car and my iPad has zero battery life because my one year-old daughter decided to watch Backyardigans 18 times this morning. I enter the terminal where I attempt to swipe a credit card for my boarding pass only to realize that my card has my middle initial on it and my flight information does not. In frustration I kick the machine. I break three toes on my right foot. Damn, that’s a long line I’m going to have to stand in. Shouldn’t have done that. Meanwhile, in my attempt to get my card back into my wallet I have actually sprung loose five other cards (two of which will remain missing in action for good).
I spend the next half-hour on the line for security only to be touched in ways no one should be by a woman twice my size. Past security, there is no lounge for me. There is only the dull passenger waiting area where there are absolutely NO seats to be had. I am last to board a plane that smells like popcorn and urine. I do believe the lady sitting next to me is drunk. Well, that’s a given, she just threw up. And… OH! She missed the vomit bag. I’d hate to be the owner of that jacket she just soiled. Oh wait, I AM the owner of the jacket. “Miss, you can keep that jacket…” The flight takes off with all the gracefulness of an elephant leaping from a waterfall. It is turbulent for twelve hours until finally crash landing at the wrong airport. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I know we were supposed to be flying into Newark but our pilots both fell asleep for a while. It happens. You’ll be enjoying a nice weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire!” And, oh yes, they lost my luggage. Meanwhile, I still have not been handed a single drink by a stylish stewardess.
Is it any wonder the airline industry has been teetering on the edge of collapse for some time now?! At least I have Pan Am!
*Pan Am was cancelled the day after this post was first published or thereabouts.