Miraculously, I made it to Michigan for Christmas. On Sunday, dozens of flights from Seattle were cancelled, and thousands of people spent the night at the airport, mostly because airlines ran out of de-icing fluid (Here’s an article about it). Fortunately, I went to the airport late Monday night, and the change was amazing. Sure, there were still a few people passed out under blankets, and there were a few people on my flight who had been delayed for over 24 hours. But the shuttle I took to the airport was not delayed at all (even though on their Web site they said they were running 60 minutes late), my flight was not delayed at all (even though the first leg of the trip was through Minneapolis), and even the last leg of my flight was only delayed for about 45 minutes.
When I say that “it’s a Festivus miracle,” I’m of course referring to the Seinfeld episode called “The Strike,” about Festivus. To me, calling something a Festivus miracle is saying that it is an instance of things turning out pretty well that may or may not have included divine intervention. Since part of celebrating Festivus is the “Airing of Grievances,” it is time to complain about my flying experience. Surprisingly, there isn’t all that much to complain about this time, but I usually am disgusted. And it wasn’t until I read this op-ed piece in the New York Times that I found out why flying is so typically an unpleasant experience these days. Here’s a quote:
I have experienced the decline of service along with the rest of the flying public. But I believe I have felt it more acutely because I remember the days when to fly was to soar. The airlines, and their employees, took pride in how their passengers were treated. A friend who flew for Pan Am and I have a friendly rivalry over which airline was better. Friendly, yes. But we each believe we worked for the best.
We tell stories about cooking lamb chops and dressing them in foil pantaloons; we debate the beauty of my Ralph Lauren uniform versus her Oleg Cassini. I like to tell her how we would have the children on board serve the after-dinner mints — delicious pale-green circles with T.W.A. stamped on them, arranged on a silver tray. We remember the service we provided — dare I say cheerfully? Happily? Proudly? And when my friend and I part ways, although we hold on to our allegiances, we know that all of our passengers were served well.
After-dinner mints? My flight to Minneapolis didn’t even have beverage service. Okay, maybe this was because it was a red-eye flight and they figured everyone would be sleeping. Fine. So where’s my sleep mask?
Now that I’m finished with the airing of grievances, I’m done celebrating Festivus for the year. On to Christmas!