Flying the Friendly Skies…Safely

I’m sitting behind the row of seats that are attached to the safety exit over the wing. Smart fliers know this row has an extra pinch of leg room, so it’s a popular choice.

But no one has to pass the safety regulations in order to sit there.

You know the routine.

As the plane taxis to the runway, stewardesses go over the safety procedures in case of an airplane emergency.

Just the thought of having one ensures my complete and avid attention.

They speak rapidly so they can themselves be buckled into the plane before take-off, which is imminent.

A yellow life vest goes rapidly on and off.  They show you how to blow into the red tube if it fails to inflate by itself. An airplane emergency would have me hyperventilating; so I guess I could do that.

They claim that the vest is under my seat, but don’t want me to reach under there and pull it out unless we crash.

I’m really going out on a limb, believing them.

This is how the Titanic began its voyage.

They demonstrate the oxygen mask – yours first, your neighbors second – in case we lose air pressure in the cabin.

Two questions.

Do you have one for the pup in the back too?

And can I use mine if the kid next to me breaks into his corn nuts?

I watch as they ask the folks sitting in the emergency exit rows if they understand the procedures and they all nod, including the guy wearing large earphones that are pumping heavy metal into his cranium.

The stewardess seems satisfied and goes to strap on her parachute and a seatbelt.

I, on the other hand, have pulled out the cute little crisis card from the seat pocket and read it intently as the aircraft makes a hard U-turn and picks up speed.  My super hero cape is already waving in the breeze, and I plan to be that guy on Survivor who doesn’t get voted off the island we’re about to crash land on.

There are three pages of emergency procedure cartoons to study.

If I can lift 50 pounds, I’m in. Well, my suitcase can’t weigh over 50 pounds by regulation and I would throw my back out trying to hoist it. But you have to factor in adrenaline, which boosts me into the “lift 100 pounds” category for about 10 minutes.

Which is all I’ll need to remove the passenger sitting next to the emergency door right now.

Because we can all see that he’ll be useless when the time comes.

Whoops, here’s one I hadn’t thought of. I can’t open the exit door if there is fire, water, or debris outside of it. What? They expect me to look out the window first? What can possibly be worse outside of a crashed plane than what is going on inside of a crashed plane?

The last man out is a rotten egg, and no one is getting near the other exits, as they are also being stampeded by frantic super heroes.

Er, concerned passengers.

Oh no. That door’s going down and we can jettison out on the inflatable raft, which obviously doubles as a shield. Look at this picture. It’s supposed to be in a box on the ceiling.

I look up. I look back. Nope. Phooey. No raft then.

Stupid Titanic.

What’s this? We have a slide!  Yes!

Yank open the door, activate the inflatable slide, don our personal flotation devices, and…calmly orderly politely… belly-slide down the bouncy pinball machine.

Points for style.

The word “expeditiously” is used numerous times on this card. I take that to mean “as fast as you can caper”. It probably looks something like what mobs do at the end of a ballgame in the stadium.

No one is getting out of that parking lot no matter how fast you caper.

It says here that you can’t have vision issues, in case your contact lens pops out. You can’t have hearing issues, so the passenger’s screaming can motivate you to caper faster…no, wait, so you can follow the stewardesses screamed instructions across the smoky cabin. You have to know English. Even if the stewardess is going to scream in Portuguese. You can’t be travelling with pets or kids or medical issues that will distract you from the task at hand.

Basically, you must be Superman. Federal regulations insist.

Otherwise, you are politely but legally requested to exchange seats with someone who qualifies.

Yeah. Right.

I have never once seen Superman sitting in an airplane.

The man flies his own Friendly Skies; seating for one.

Catching air will definitely score you points. Be sure to stick the landing.

Flying the Friendly Skies

I’m finally at my airport gate.

After a week of road trips and visiting kinfolk, I am wearily, thankfully ready to go home.

My favorite word.

“Home”.

Airplanes trump cars any day for getting from point A to point B. Someone else drives doing a million miles per hour, nice people bring you drinks with little cocktail napkins, and the view can be pretty inspiring.

If you’re a planner (ahem), you’ve checked in 24 hours ago and have priority seating. This gives you a chance to cram your carry-on bag into the overhead before everyone else and choose a seat.

As usual, I grab a window seat as I am easily entertained by cloud formations.

I like to guess which tiny city we’re flying over by day or watch them twinkle at night.

But first I get to watch the airport personnel loading the luggage below us.

Wheeee….

They are tossing suitcases – the ones you just worked so hard to pack and keep under the weight limit – like slabs of beef at a Mongolian buffet onto the conveyor belt.

Heave! Thunk! And the long slow roll into the bowels of El Diablo.

We are feeding the belly of the beast that will fly us over land and sea to retch our luggage up again onto some distant shore.

If we’re lucky, it will be the same distant shore we ourselves land on.

I set my large purse under the seat in front of me and watch everyone else board.

Here comes a mom with a toddler. Everyone is giving her wary looks and cringing as she passes; thankful she’s not next to them. I feel so sympathetic for her. She needs to get somewhere with this kid as fast as possible, hence a plane.

Little kid plus limited movement equals grumpy kid. I hope she packed some emergency travel toys.

And some tranquilizers.

Not for the kid.

For the nearby passengers who will give her dirty looks no matter what she does.

She can sit by me.

Here comes a woman with…two kids and a….dog? She has a small dog in a wheeled mesh enclosure just barely larger than said dog and is wheeling it down the aisle. Really? I know it’s not going into the overhead. Will the dog be put at her feet? Can it breathe in that contraption? What if it barks?  What if it gets airsick? What if someone accidentally kicks it? What if passengers are allergic?

Maybe there are hair filtration masks next to the barf bags in the seat pockets.

Will the stewardess now hand out little drinks, snacks, and doggy biscuits?

And will we be able to tell the difference?

This really does seem unfair and dangerous to the pup. But what do I know.

Guess I’ll be glad it’s not a snake.

It’s starting to feel like the bus in here.

Certainly we are packed in like sardines and the air now smells strongly of the kid next to me’s Doritos.

Like a bus, you never want to attempt to find the tiny bathroom. Your seatmates are in no mood to struggle in and out of the aisle for you. Even if it’s unoccupied, you will be sorry you stepped inside. Certainly you won’t be able to turn around or sit.

Better just hold back on those drinks I was thinking about.

Whoa, mister. You just reclined your seat the allotted 2 inches into my lap. Your weave is up close and personal.  I just might accidentally get Doritos crumbs into it.

We have window seats! Lean sideways!

Our flight is a whole hour long.

Already I’m clicking my heels like Dorothy, chanting, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

The pup in the back is whimpering.

I’m whimpering.

And then the plane lurches slowly away from the airport.

Act 2 is about to begin…