I've been Continental's bitch since I moved to New York. I horded frequent flier miles like they were Krugerrands, and the occasional upgrades made the complete and utter lack of customer service perfectly acceptable. But as those upgrades stopped coming, and I spent more and more time in steerage, I resigned myself to a life of quiet desperation staring at the seat back comfortably located three inches from my face.
So last week I took a shot on JetBlue, which I hadn't been on in years. It wasn't like Continental was going to reward me for my loyalty, so why not spend half as much, right? What I discovered--and I urge Larry Kellner to pay attention to this--was:
- It is possible for an airline employee not to scowl and kick you when you enter the jet-way. It was shocking to be greeted by someone who didn't wish they had a cattle-prod and a tazer in their hands.
- Are you really going to lose that much revenue if you scoot the seats another three inches apart? It's hard to stomach a cross-country flight with my shins in my face.
- Does anybody use the air-phone? Ever? No...I have a hard time dialing home when I have to slide a credit card through the receiver. So why not put a TV into that seat cushion in front of me? You'd be amazed how effective ESPN and the History Channel can be at distracting me from the "chicken sandwich " the flight attendant just tossed in my lap. Or are you afraid I'll be watching the Food Network?
- If JetBlue can do all the above and charge me less, you have to wonder where all that extra money I was paying was going...
Maybe I was just beaten down, like a prisoner released from solitary confinement, but I openly wept at the experience.
While I'm on the topic of flying, let's discuss airport security. How psyched do you think the marketing team at Ziploc was when they announced the new security rules? I'd open a Ziploc kiosk at every ticket counter in America. And does the double-zipper seal actually protect passengers from potential explosives? Or does it just keep my shampoo fresh?
I find it ironic that I had a three minute argument with a TSA employee about whether a 4 oz. bottle of contact solution (half-empty) constituted a breach of security, but had I put it in my pocket and walked through the metal detector no one would have noticed. Bang up job there, boys.
One thing I like to do when I travel is stock up on magazines I never read otherwise. I moseyed into Hudson News at the airport and picked up the latest
Maxim FHM Stuff Esquire magazine because it had Brad Pitt on the cover, and I thought he'd have some excellent parenting and marital advice. It also said, in big block letters, "The Best Bar in America Revealed," which I took to be another excuse to pimp some offensively snobby and stupid velvet-rope lounge, possibly in New York but more likely in Des Moines so the editors could prove they aren't biased. Imagine my delight when I discovered that they actually picked the right one.
I used to go to Nye's Polonaise all the time when I lived in Minneapolis. It has huge, puffy vinyl booths that must date back to 1941. That's also the year that most of the staff was hired. My friends and I would order a round of shitty Eastern European beers (my favorite was Kraken) and ask Lou, the ancient piano player, to sing songs for us. Then, if the pickled herring and lutefisk hadn't made us sick yet we'd cross over to the "old side" and polka our brains out until last call. It absolutely kicks ass, and kudos to Esquire for actually realizing it.
All these memories were being conjured up on my return trip, which wasn't the best timing. It was an overnighter for work to discuss strategery and meet with people who I only knew by voice. Since we were all on expense accounts we followed protocol and went out for drinks immediately afterwords. I have to remind myself that just because beer is "free" doesn't mean that you need to get as much in you as possible before the "freeness" wears off. So when I boarded the plane the next morning I had low cognition, uncontrollable flatulence, and the taste of pancreas in the back of my throat.
All to the delight, I'm sure, of the fine staff at JetBlue, who let me listen to my iPod as we landed and smiled while I used the eye drops in the 4 oz. bottle I kept in my pocket...