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If Flight Attendants Told the Truth

Henry M. Halff

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard Tree Top Airways Flight 2345 from Los Angeles to Chicago. If Chicago is not in your flight plans today, the Tree Top representative at our arrival gate will be happy to help you with the purchase of a return ticket.

Please be advised that the two-hour wait at the gate with the cabin doors closed and the air conditioning off is a normal part of the departure procedure. We will be on our way as soon as the pilot figures out what to do about the little yellow light on his Game Boy.

We realize that there is nothing we can do to make your flight anything less than miserable. Nonetheless, we request your cooperation in making our lives a little bit easier. Your seats are designed for the comfort of any passenger smaller than a Chihuahua. Please remain crammed into your seat for the duration of the flight, with your seat belt fastened uncomfortably tight across your lap. The pilot will turn off the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign for 30 seconds near the end of the flight to accommodate anyone in imminent danger of soiling the passenger cabin.

Our route today calls for us to taxi from Los Angeles to a point approximately five miles from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. We will then take off and circle the field for three hours in an air-traffic-control holding pattern. After landing, we anticipate a 45-minute wait on the tarmac to allow for disembarkation and removal of a non-operational outgoing aircraft from our gate.

The local time in Chicago is 2:34 PM. Please listen carefully to the following connecting gate information. We will arrive at Gate A3. Flight 2334 to Boston has departed from Gate A20. Flight 72 to Champaign will not depart from Gate B3. Flight 987 to Cleveland will depart at 12:37 from Gate E92. Flight 762 to Dallas-Fort Worth has been delayed and will depart sometime next year. Flight 9 to Paris will be diverted to Dayton. … If I have not read your connecting flight, please consult the monitors inside the terminal for flight cancellation information.

Passengers with checked baggage can determine whether or not their bags made it on this flight by checking at Baggage Carousel 2. Please exercise care in identifying your bags since many will have changed shape and appearance during the baggage-handling process.

We realize that what with monopolistic routing, creative overbooking, opportunistic  flight cancellations, and incomprehensible pricing practices, you really don’t have much of a choice at all in airlines. We therefore look forward to your next incarceration on Tree Top Airlines, should you survive this flight.