Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fasten Your Seats

Having exhausted all other ways of squeezing nickels out of fliers, American Airlines has apparently come up with an innovative revenue idea: charging passengers extra to have their seats bolted to the floor of the plane.

american-airline-seat The plan hasn't been officially announced, but how else to explain reports of seats coming loose on three flights in the past week? In the public relations business, that's called floating a trial balloon or, in this case, propelling the occupants of 12D, E and F via a sudden drop in altitude.

I developed a love/hate relationship with American when I lived in Dallas years ago. I loved American because you could fly it almost anywhere. (I once asked a long-term transplant to Dallas where the best place was to go on a weekend. He answered quite seriously, "DFW Airport – Departures.") At the same time, I hated the airline because it was essentially your only choice for flying nonstop out of Texas. You never want to play an American lawyer or lobbyist in "Monopoly."

With little alternative, I've accumulated a few hundred thousand frequent flier miles on this airline over the years. Meanwhile, my wife – the globetrotting executive goddess that she is – has long had American's coveted Platinum status, a designation achieved by completing 100 consecutive flights without grabbing an attendant by the collar and screaming, "Six dollars for a box of raisins and a Wet-Nap? Are you people insane?"

That kind of loyalty still doesn't get you much these days. On a recent family trip across country, I found myself with our two children back in economy while my wife lounged about with the Hiltons and Kardashians in first class. She received her seat as a "free" upgrade, most likely as a reward for steadfast refusal to use the bathrooms in-flight thus saving the airline precious cents on toilet-cleaning blue goo.

About halfway through the flight, she came back to visit us among the rest of cattle. In a fit of pity, she offered to swap seats with me so I could enjoy a complementary drink up front while reveling in the privilege of flying without my kneecaps embedded in my chest.

After settling in with the beautiful people, I asked the flight attendant for a gin and tonic. "I can't," she said. "This is not your seat."

"Well, it's my wife's. We just switched for the last half of the flight."

"Since you didn't pay for this seat, you will have to pay for the drink," she said.

"But we're married. We have a joint bank account. She makes significantly more than I do, but I'm sure my meager earnings covered at least the complimentary drink portion of this first-class seat."

However, this was not about giving away 35 cents worth of alcohol and fizzy water. According to the flight attendant, it was about redistribution of the wealth by grossly overestimating the generosity of the people who paid extra to avoid the unwashed masses crammed in the back. "If I let you have a free drink," she said, "then EVERYONE from first class will be switching seats with people in economy."

As first class is usually ripe with bleeding hearts and socialists, I chose to avoid inciting a riot and simply passed on a drink. Then I promptly stuffed the translucent red remnant that American passes off as a blanket into my carry-on bag.

Settle down, Mr. Legal American Eagle, I'm not keeping your company's rag. Next time I fly I'm apparently going to need to use it to tie down my seat.

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Thanks again to all of you supporting my run for Cure JM. My Love and I have raised $13,000+ with a week to go before the 5K! Please donate if you can, even a a few bucks, to help us out.

Photo credit (with some Photoshopping by me)

21 comments:

  1. Um... yeah.

    This is just ONE MORE REASON why I will NOT be getting on an airplane, any time soon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. American Airlines is the airline I loved to hate when I traveled. I remember when the cabin pressure on some of their planes never equalized. Never felt the least bit nauseous on any other airline but wanted to hurl every time I flew AA.

    Since most of my family and friends live in places that other airlines like to fly to without making me deplane and race through crowds to find my connecting flight, I never use them anymore. BOOYAH!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm doing my best to avoid them for this and many reasons these days myself.

      Delete
  3. "If I let you have a free drink," she said, "then EVERYONE from first class will be switching seats with people in economy."

    Umm...no, that is the wrong analogy Mrs Waitress-in-the-sky. The correct analogy would be:

    "If I let you have a free drink," she said, "then EVERYONE WITH A SPOUSE from first class will be switching seats with THIER SPOUSES in economy."

    That is more accuarate and drasticly cuts down the number of free drinks given out back down to one.

    Glad that "customers-can-suck-it" company is going bankrupt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How could I have forgotten to throw the Replacements in here. Video coming up!

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  4. Maybe she was just having a bad day. Maybe her boyfriend gave her some crap and she took it out on you. Or maybe the pilot is a dick and she hates to fly with him at the helm so she . . . took it out on you. There's really got to be a good explanation, because . . . well, just because. People aren't generally that mean over booze.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You see the glass as half full. I don't even see the liquor cabinet.

      Delete
  5. "then EVERYONE from first class will be switching seats with people in economy."

    Clearly she is stoned. Or stupid. Or really a "People Of Walmart" person in disguise as the attendant. Because what person in their right mind (besides your love of course) would ever want to do that??????

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    Replies
    1. I hope she wasn't stoned because that means she was REALLY holding out on me.

      Delete
  6. Flying's a real pain. I like to suffer in economy though ;).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You obviously bring your own booze and Xanax.

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    2. Obviously. Plus the riders in economy are so much more annoying/entertaining. This passenger misplaced his shoe and all attendants came over with flashlights looking for it. Seriously, there's only so far a shoe can go.

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    3. Those onboard rats can scurry pretty quickly.

      Delete
  7. Why didn't you try the ol' "It'll be our little secret. I promise I won' tell." Then after you were hammered you could've stumbled back to the cattle car and slurred, "Hey everybody! Free drinks in first class!"
    Then we all would've visited you in jail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure I'll have plenty of visits before then.

      Delete
  8. Never really cared for American Airlines. Too right wing. Insert circling joke here.

    In all honesty, I never felt like a valued customer with that airline. And props for using The 'Mats.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least the planes have right wings. For now.

      I owe the 'Mats ref to O'Shea up there. I completely blew that one.

      Delete
  9. Did you see how they are now claiming the seats came loose from passengers spilling too much pop? Blame it on the customers, the new American way!

    ReplyDelete
  10. My jaw dropped when I read this exchange in which they refused to get you a drink. What a bunch of BS! That would piss me off to no end.

    Also? I can't believe your wife ditched you to sit up front! I always turn down my free upgrade when traveling with the family. Maybe I'll lobby for a reversal of this policy though.

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  11. I understand rules and all, but that feels like a low blow to deny you a beverage.

    I usually fly on Alaska Airlines and was once seated in coach next to a family with a crying toddler. The flight attendant gave me free drinks the entire flight. I didn't have the heart to tell her I had a young child at home and already learned the jedi trick of tuning those things out.

    ReplyDelete

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