Constipation Is an Advantage When Flying American Airlines

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    Milt Priggee, Oak Harbor, WA

    Members of any airline frequent flyer club have seen the benefits of membership gradually erode under the relentless assault of airline bean–counters. The yearly mileage necessary to qualify for even the lowest membership level has increased dramatically over the years.

    At the same time the member’s accumulated miles have been devalued as the mileage cost of free tickets has been increased to a minimum of 25,000 miles. Other perks, like upgrades and airport lounge passes, associated with climbing up the frequent flyer status ladder, have also been reduced or eliminated.

    Milt Priggee, Oak Harbor, WA

    The only airline club where the benefits have remained largely intact is the Mile–High Club and now American Airlines has declared war on that collection of randy flyers.

    On AA’s new 737–MAX aircraft one would have to be Tyrion Lannister to have even the remotest hope of conducting an induction ceremony, and even then it would be very close. Passengers flying on the remodeled 737 would do well to gate–check their claustrophobia.

    The new bathrooms on that aircraft are so small the usage experience more closely resembles that of a human cannonball than it does of relieving oneself. At the circus the human cannonball knows, given the dimensions of the gun tube, once inside he’s not going to have the luxury of repositioning himself.

    The same is true for the cruelly–named 737–MAX.

    The ‘MAX’ bathroom is 25 percent smaller than the telephone booths flyers have grown accustomed to using in the past. The new comfort coffins are so tight it is impossible to turn around once inside with the door closed. This presents no problem for women or men who want to keep their options open, but for the rest of us, we’re going to have to commit before we close the door.

    Plus–sized passengers may require the assistance of Crisco or their fellow passengers to get in and get out.

    And that’s not where the similarity to Ringling Brothers ends.

    Just as the human cannonball is expelled by the expansion of hot gases trapped behind him in the tube, passengers following an exiting flyer too closely into the aircraft lavatory may find themselves wishing they could eject when encountering a large hot aroma trapped in a small confined space.

    These indignities are only confined to healthy passengers. Nervous flyers or those with sensitive stomachs would do well to start practicing hurling while standing erect, because it is impossible to bend over in those bathrooms. This will be no problem for drunks and three–year–olds, but for rest of us abandon all hope of privacy as you are forced to leave the door open to bend over and be sick.

    I always assumed when it came to mobile evacuation nothing could top the combination of indignity and excitement one experienced using a bus bathroom while the vehicle was in motion. It would have made perfect sense for Greyhound to install timers in those ‘restrooms’ so passengers could try and remain seated as long as the average bull rider.

    Yet even in the worst bus bathroom I never got the impression the company had it in for me. Not so with American Airlines. Only a corporation that’s part of a lock–step oligopoly could exhibit such utter contempt for the comfort and dignity of its customers. To say nothing of its own reputation.

    Starbucks shut the entire company down to atone for its sin after offending two black guys that weren’t even customers. American Airlines insults its entire customer base while laughing all the way to the bank.

    The indignity doesn’t stop after you’ve finished your business. The sink in this washcoffin is so tiny passengers can only wash one hand at a time. It would have made more sense to dispense with the sink altogether in favor of waterless hand cleaner and devote the added room to the preservation of male kneecaps.

    Flight attendants are on the passenger’s side in this dispute. The two shoebox bathrooms are located across from each other in the rear. Attendants have discovered that if doors open simultaneously, the two frequently snag, forming an impromptu wall that traps them in the galley.

    Our loss in comfort and privacy is naturally American’s gain. Smaller bathrooms, thinner seats and less distance between seats allow more passengers. AA has increased the load from 160 passengers to 172 with the letterbox–sized bathrooms.

    Flyers like me who avoid AA aren’t safe either. Airlines are in figurative race to the bottom and I fear my United will soon adopt AA’s malign one–holer design. The only bright spot I can see — and limited to longer flights — is the reduction in bathroom size might force American to institute a corresponding reduction is flight attendant size. In the interest of safety, of course.

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    Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic, entertaining and funny keynote speaker for corporate, non–profit and governmental organizations. In addition to his speaking and consulting, Shannon is an editorial page columnist for Virginia’s News & Messenger. As consultant to The Israel Project, he has made a number of trips to Israel where he worked closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their efforts to promote a positive image of Israel. Shannon has also conducted media and message training workshops for MFA and Israeli Defense Forces spokespersons along with representatives of various non–governmental organizations. During the UN Court trial in The Hague, Shannon worked closely with the MFA in its international media outreach. Shannon teaches message development, crisis communication and public relations for The University of Tennessee – Chattanooga Command College, conducts the political advertising and message section of The University of Virginia's Sorenson Institute and he lectures on message development, politics and lobbying for The Police/Fire Labor Institute. He is a regular speaker on political commercials, crisis communication and public relations for Campaigns & Elections magazine. He has also addressed the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, National League of Cities, conducted seminars for Information Management and The University of Arkansas – Little Rock and performed as the keynote speaker for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Shannon’s client list includes SAIC; United National Congress (Trinidad & Tobago); Royal Castle, Ltd.; New Generation Imaging; Dry–Clean Depot; Texas Medical Assn.; American Medical Assn.; American Medical Assn. PAC; Indiana State Police Alliance; Minneapolis Federation of Police; St. Paul Police Federation; Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance; The Peterson Companies; Gleaning for the World; various political candidates and elected officials. The work Shannon has done in the radio and television arena has been recognized for both creativity and effectiveness. He is a multiple first place winner in the American Association of Political Consultants Pollie awards. Shannon won back–to–back first place Silver Microphone awards for radio commercials. He is a three–time winner of the prestigious Gold statue at the Houston International Film Festival. Shannon won first place in the Vision Awards for television. He has also won consecutive Silver Microphone awards for best campaign.

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