The Fish
for 9 April 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
 
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Matt Beer
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"Flight of the Crybabies"

It may seem strange, but I've
actually found the service on
Southwest flights to be more
pleasant than that of most
carriers, but I suspect it
has to do with expectations
as much as anything else.
When you spend less than US$200
on a round-trip ticket from
LAX to Seattle or San Jose,
you come to the airport
expecting the equivalent of a
Greyhound bus ride. Anything
above that level ends up
being a pleasant
experience. Another thing
that makes the difference is
the design of the plane's
interior. Many of the major
carriers use seating layouts
that are much narrower than
Southwest's so they can pack
in the maximum number of
people on the longer trips.
This markedly decreases the
level of comfort you get on a
typical flight. But I don't
want to concentrate on just
one airline. To a great
degree I do sympathize with
the folks working the
airlines who are stuck in the
same cramped planes a hell of
a lot longer than any of their
passengers ever are. And
having run into those same
surly customers you describe
in your article, I sometimes
wonder how the flight crews
keep from flying into the
ground.

Flying the unfriendly skies,

Steve Gattuso
<doodles@primenet.com>

We should always have the
lowest expectations possible
when we fly. And the
reduction in leg room has
been a major factor in
allowing the airlines to fly
more people at lower ticket
prices, thereby opening up
air travel to the riffraff
who do nothing but complain
about it.

Yr pal,

Bartel

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

What a funny article!
However, your reference to
"porn-starved Canadian
customs agents" is incorrect.
The agents in the Vancouver
airport were American,
according to the National
Post
link in your story. You
don't think we
"mild-mannered" Canucks would
behave that way, do you? ;)

Have a good day.

Glen Dempster
<GDempster@mdsintl.com>

Hi Glen,

Since yours was the most
polite comment I received on
this matter, I'll let my
response to you stand in for
all the complaints.

You're right, the Vancouver
airport incident involved
customs officials from the
United States, not Canada.
The error was the result of
my inattention to the story
and is solely my
responsibility.

Readers occasionally point
out factual errors in Suck,
but in this case several
dozen of your "mild-mannered"
compatriots leaped at the
chance to do their little
factual-error victory jig.
And I sincerely hope they
enjoyed the moment.

Yr pal,

Bartel

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Normally I wouldn't respond
to your work because I
figure, what the hell do you
care anyway. But I couldn't
stop myself from standing,
applauding, and then writing
after reading your column. I
sat in the Detroit airport on
9 March 1999, in hour 24 of a
total of 27 hours spent in a
place I wouldn't be paid to
stay, watching people turn
into bug-eyed, slobbering,
chest-beating Neanderthals,
and those were just the old
ladies. I can't agree enough
that the expectation level
for air travel has gotten way
out of hand. The airline
didn't put a special request
in to the weather fairies or
Mr. Cold from The Year
Without a Santa Claus
to send
a storm across the country
and fuck up Joe and Jane
Redneck's flight to see
Grammy before she kicks the
bucket. I was really appalled
and saddened that most of us
have lost a sense
of common courtesy and
a simple understanding that
things don't always work out
as planned. And I for one
would be ecstatic if there
were some law passed that
refused to allow colicky or
unsedated children onto any
flight longer than an hour.
All these whiners should take
a flight on a Russian
airline, where relieved
passengers explode into
applause when their airplane
touches down.

Paula Guerra
<pguerra@apa.org>
research analyst
American
Psychological Association

Thank you for reminding me of
one of the few flying
experiences that truly makes
me happy - flying in an
exotically decrepit converted
Tupelov with a bunch of
non-US citizens who are so
happy to touch down safely in
Sofia or Damascus that they
break into spontaneous
applause and even songs in
some cases. It's truly an
infectious display of
appreciation.

Yr pal,

Bartel

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 
Hit and Run

I was just thinking last
night about how much I hated
that little girl in the Pepsi
commercials. Stop scanning
me!

Hey, did you hear about Matt
Damon's penis enlargement
surgery? Apparently, after he
hauled in the Oscar for Good
Will Hunting,
the first thing
he spent his new-found cash
(from Rounders) on was penis
enlargement surgery.
Apparently, his unit wasn't
all that small to begin with,
but he wanted a schlong more
befitting his new A-list
status.

Yrs,

K. Thor Jensen
<tjensen@word.com>

You'll need some better
documentation if you want us
to believe this Damon story.
Seems like this surgery would
upset the butch/femme dynamic
he's got going with Affleck.

Yr pal,

Bartel

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

Flight of the Crybabies

"Flight of the Crybabies?"
Uh-uh. More like "Fly Air
Auschwitz." The experience of
modern US air travel is
brutalizing, demeaning, and
intimidating, from expensive
parking to rental-car ripoffs
to confusing, ill-marked
airport layouts to signs
threatening you in multiple
languages not to smoke to
answering all questions with
smiles to connecting
flights which force you to
trot from one end of the
terminal to the other to the
lack of lockers (ye gods,
someone might try ... storing
their luggage!) to airport
customer service that
consists solely of making it
impossible for you to avoid
duty-free booze sellers to
inept check-ins to electronic
ticketing that is usually
incorrect and saves you no
time whatsoever to forcing
you to check in half an hour
before flights that are
casually late anyway to
congestive heart failure as
you sit scrunched in economy
seats for umpteen hours ...
No, the modern air travel
experience is an
alternative-world glimpse of
what all modern life would be
like if the Nazis had won
WWII. Line up here for
customs, there for
showers ...

R. D. Ward
<2206@nethawk.com>

Oh, pipe down, you big sissy!
All your little complaints
can be easily explained. They
don't let you smoke because
it's an enclosed environment
with no opening windows (and
the smoking ban is among the
most popular moves the
airlines have ever made);
they don't have lockers
because they don't want
terrorists storing bombs in
them, etc. You should be
answering all their questions
with a smile. In fact, you
should be thanking them at
every opportunity for letting
you fly safely through
oxygen-thin altitudes and get
where you're going faster
than you ever would on a bus
or in your car.

And your overblown Nazi
analogy doesn't work either.
Flying on Lufthansa is among
the most pleasant and
courteous experiences in
modern travel.

Yr pal,

Bartel

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

3-25-99 i got onto web site
and names of girls from
hooters i clicked and got
pictures of them. can't find
HELP

Ken Jahnke
<beerman@hartcom.net>

What do you need help for if
you already got the
pictures?

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

You hit the nail on the head
in your Friday column about
the so-called Passenger Bill
of Rights. The bills
currently on the table in
Congress are a stunning
example of the government
railing at private industry
for a problem the government
created in the first place.
The customer complaints that
drove this legislation were
mainly about delays, which
are obviously not an
airline-side phenomenon. How
stupid is the public? Does it
really think that when a
plane is delayed it's because
United is run by a bunch of
jackasses incapable of moving
passengers onto a plane? The
problem obviously lies
elsewhere. However, your
article only focused on the
FAA and air traffic control.
The government also fucks up
the airline industry by
protecting the domestic
market from foreign
competition and by letting
municipalities (exempt from
antitrust law) sign huge
locked-in, long-term leases
that allow the major airlines
to control all the gates at
airports and even to veto
adding gates that would allow
new competitors to enter the
market. I'm not saying that
anti-trust laws are good, but
it's never good to let the
government control a
monopoly. In fact, it's just
plain stupid.

PS You should have added a
quote from Bud
"stark-raving-fucking-stupid"
Shuster.

Ryan H. Sager
<rhsager@gwu.edu>

To answer your first
question: The public is
extremely stupid.

Opening up domestic lanes to
foreign competition isn't as
simple as it seems. It's not
like the foreigners are
falling all over themselves
to let Delta and American
take over the
Minsk-Vladivostok route. And
I'm not so sure I'd want some
Belgian flying me from San
Francisco to LA.

Yr pal,

Bartel

 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

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