As this is being written, Estuary Airlines* (not their real name) has suffered a crash in their computer network so severe, that all of their flights worldwide were cancelled or brutally delayed. My niece and her family are currently in New York, fingers crossed that their flight back to California on Estuary will not be delayed too badly. Delayed is a given. Not too badly delayed is the stuff of dreams. Pictures on Facebook show exhausted passengers curled up on the floor, using twelve-dollar bags of concession stand Skinny Pop popcorn for pillows.
While my niece and her husband waited the requisite hours to hear back from a representative (via text), we were joking that we need to start an airline and call it, Landed In One Piece Airlines. I’ve got the marketing all figured out. Try to imagine a TV commercial opening with a long shot of a jetliner flying gracefully through the sky. The mellifluous voice of Morgan Freeman comes on, and he says the following:
Landed In One Piece Airlines.
We can’t guarantee your time of departure, your time of arrival, or your luggage arriving with you or arriving at all. Time zones aren’t our forte, so we can’t guarantee what day you will arrive either, but it will likely be at 3:30 AM. Layovers will be either eight hours or five minutes, and if it’s five minutes, the transfer gate will be in a different zip code.
(Cut to a close shot of the airborne jetliner exterior, with rows of exhausted faces pressed into the windows.)
What we will do is land and takeoff safely, and that’s kind of the important thing, right? What good is a gourmet in-flight meal if the end game is a smoking ball of fire? Am I right? Everything else pales in importance to arriving in one piece, excluding your luggage, which is in all likelihood on its way to a one-lane airstrip in Bolivia. Also, the baggage handler thanks you deeply for the iPad and clean underwear.
Landed In One Piece Airlines.
At Landed In One Piece Airlines, ticket fares are all over the map, depending on who you talk to, and if you call our 24/7 toll-free hotline with a problem, we will never, ever, allow you to speak with a real person. We also promise that the queue to not speak with anyone will be no longer than the time it takes to fly from Maine to Vancouver. By the way, our route from Maine to Vancouver has four layovers, the first of which is in Miami, then Minnesota, then Texas, with a quick stop back in Maine to pick up some lobsters, and then on to Vancouver. Geography is not our strong suit.
Log onto our website, and use our free chat service, which is never staffed by anyone who even remotely resembles the chat icon of the person with the headset and cheery smile, but it really doesn’t matter. Heck, you’d be lucky if their first language consisted of clicks and whistles, so expecting someone to type a coherent English sentence is right up there with arriving on time, which we’ll never do.
Reserving tickets online is fast and easy, and your credit card will be charged immediately for the airfare plus a fee for baggage, which I already told you we would lose. You actually pay us to lose your baggage. Is that great or what?
You will also be charged with layers of miscellaneous fees, and a bunch of taxes that we pulled out of our butts because nobody will ever question them. Armrest tax is a real thing. Uh-huh. We do not give credits, but we might, if forced by law, give you a voucher so that you can fly with us again.
The food on the airliner is exactly what you would expect it to be, so our advice is to stop by Subway or the Chinese place in the food court and grab a quantity of food that is on par with what a doomsday prepper would store in their shelter. We pride ourselves on having airliners that smell exactly like the hallway of a Brooklyn apartment building.
We will show movies onboard, and the headphones are $10.00, but you won’t be able to hear anything anyway because of the engine noise. Blankets and pillows are $10.00 each but you can rest assured that they have only been used a few times by large people with a glandular issue before being resealed in a plastic bag.
At Landed In One Piece Airlines, we’re exactly like Estuary Airlines, but hey—at least we’re honest about it.
(Camera fades to black on an airliner landing, with the sound of passengers clapping in the background)
That’s what it’s come to, folks. Lousy service is what we’ve come to expect and when things go wrong, the problem is blamed on computers because as we all know, computers have become self-aware and are always at fault**. It won’t be long before those little self-help computerized kiosks will be chewing gum and talking about their weekend plans with the kiosk next to them because really, what’s a sweeter deal than blaming human screw-ups on something everyone hates to begin with?
*Not their real name because, you know, nobody wants to get sued or anything, so don’t sue me, Dilta.
**Computers aren’t self-aware. That happened in the Terminator movies, not in real life. Don’t sue me, Microsift.