Just Fly the Jet and STFU.
Marketing honcho says inflight announcements “degrade the premium experience for our valued frequent flyers.” So, he implores, you captains: minimize your use of the PA during the flight for their sakes.
But what about my sake? Me, nine years old, breathless as the ground falls away, can’t wait for the seatbelt sign to go off so I can bolt to the lav, flush the toilet and see it gape open to the blue sky. Wide-eyed, with a tote bag of items I planned to throw out, letting them flutter to Earth as I sailed above.
Or the old folks from “back east,” as they liked to say — the woman traveling with a twine-tied cardboard box of tomato purée in 12 ounce cans “Because,” she confides with disdain, “you just can’t get good tomatoes out west.” She swears we’ll be flying over the Grand Canyon and vows to “get some snaps” when the captain announces it, to prove to her sister that she did.
What about the “not frequent flyers?” The kids who marvel at the God’s-eye view, who brought stuff to drop out the toilet hole to strew across the sky? Who may have a merit badge in map reading he’d like to show off to the stews if he could get maybe a little confirmation of where the hell we are from the cockpit.
And the fuzzy-chinned GI who says he drove this route with his parents as a kid, wants to see it again, think back on those days as he follows his military orders to Bumfuk-wherever, the shithole his duty (done on behalf of all, including the “valued frequent flyers”) muse play out for a few lonely years. Can the captain make a PA when we are in Utah? Just knowing he’s over home, even though bound far from home, is a comfort.
Somebody’s Uncle Charlie needs to see where John Wayne filmed “all the great ones.” Tucumcari, he says; there’s a fake fort nearby. He watched The Duke film a nighttime scene in broad daylight for a spaghetti western, he says, as a kid. Point that out, wouldja?
And the couple who need to know when we cross the Mississippi, for some secret reason that seems to matter a lot, though they won’t say exactly why. We don’t want to miss that, they say, trying to pick out landmarks between cloud breaks. Somebody who mattered is buried nearby, let us know.
Is the “premium experience” more valuable than the salt-of-the-earth, blood and bone humanity that flies behind — not below, behind — the “premium” cabin? Does the self-importance of being unaware because you don’t care trump the one-up of an elderly sister over her older sister? Does the dancing below the Titanic’s decks disturb the quiet of the stick-up-the-ass aristocracy lounging on the Promenade?
I sure hope so.
“Nice view of Lake Powell and beyond that, Valley of the Gods.” Only takes a second or two, here and there; pardon the recurring suspension of the premium experience as the world turns, the sky burns furious scarlet at the ends of the earth as the day gathers the light and rushes west.
We’ll all come back down to Earth, premium or no, soon enough. Might as well enjoy the view while it lasts. May not seem important to you, but it really is.
— Chris Manno is a captain for a major airline, tried to throw junk out of an airliner’s toilet hole long ago, still marvels at the view from eight miles up.