That’s the Spirit

My experience flying on a cut-rate airline…

People say stupid stuff and I’m no exception.

Last Thursday my son Paul put me on the Hollywood-LAX shuttle bus and as I got on board I said, “I’ll text you when I get to Kansas City to let you know I got home safely.”

Give it a moment’s thought and if my plane hit the side of Pike’s Peak there’s an excellent chance Paul would hear about it without a text from me.

Plus, I’m a slow one-finger-hunt-and-peck texter so my last message before we did that nose-first landing –  “Hey, Paul, do me a favor and delete my laptop’s search history” – would probably wind up being, “Hey, Paul, do me” which would be a pretty disturbing last text for a son to get from his father.

Fortunately, none of that happened and I got back home safe and relatively sound.

BTW: That’s me in the above picture – about to get on the bus – and if you look up and to the right, that white line on those hills is the “HOLLYWOOD” sign. Here’s closer look:

I threw this in because Paul told me one New Year’s Eve someone climbed up there and used black and white towels to turn the sign into “HOLLYWEED” which I think we all have to admit it is a pretty ambitious project for a bunch of stoners and improved my opinion of the Millennial Generation by at least 116 percent.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program: stupid stuff people say.  

When you’re about to fly, people say, “Have a safe trip” like you have anything to do with that. Having a safe trip is up to the pilot and the guy at the controls of my Spirit Airlines plane gave his passengers cause for worry.

After they closed the doors so we couldn’t abandon ship, our pilot got on the intercom and welcomed us all to Flight 816, headed to Wichita…which would have been OK if our destination hadn’t been Kansas City.

Never been to flight school, but I’m guessing knowing what city you’re flying to is right up there on the airline pilot to-do list.

After someone in the cockpit pointed out that the pilot was 196.7 miles off our actual destination, he corrected himself and then spent the rest of the flight sporadically informing us of weather conditions in Kansas even though the Kansas City we were headed to is in Missouri.

But after that Wichita announcement, I’m guessing most of us would have said “close enough” and been willing to walk the rest of the way home if our pilot had managed to land safely in Kansas City, Kansas.

A weak sense of geography is not what you’re looking for in an airline pilot and reminds me of a joke my friend Phil told me the night he graduated from med school:

Q. What do they call the person who graduates last in his class?

A. Doctor.

Hey, somebody had to be the worst medical student in the school and they still got to practice medicine and in their case “practice” is the right word because they probably aren’t doing it right.

If your doctor ever gives you some sketchy-sounding medical advice, ask him or her where they graduated in their class and see how fast they change the subject. If the answer is, “How ‘bout them Chiefs?” you might need a new doctor.

So next time you get on a plane, remember this updated version of Phil’s joke:

Q. What do they call the person who graduates last in his class from flight school?

A. Captain.

The Spirit Airlines business model

Most of us use our own personal experience as evidence and do it to a fault. Face it, if we went to a party in 1936 Berlin and Hitler got off a good doctor joke and brought us a beer we’d say, “Granted, he was responsible for the Holocaust, but he was always nice to me.” 

The following opinion is totally based on my own personal experience, but after flying with them for the first time here’s what appears to be the Spirit Airlines business model:

Provide cheap airfares and then tack on charges if the people who bought tickets want “extras” like using the restroom.

I made the mistake of providing Spirit Airlines my cell number so I could receive flight updates like: “Our Kansas City flight is currently landing in Sedalia, Missouri – plan accordingly.”

But instead of getting useful information, I got texts trying to sell me stuff like a better seat or the opportunity to bring along a suitcase and not try to stuff nine days’ worth of boxer briefs in a backpack.

Plus, I’m pretty sure they’re charging me for receiving their texts.

I got an assigned aisle seat so far back on the plane I was almost sitting in the rear restroom which would have cost extra, but breathed a sigh of relief when I realized there was no one in the last row of seats behind me. I could at least tilt my seat back without putting my head in someone’s lap, which I already had ample opportunity to do on Hollywood Boulevard and could have made a few bucks while doing so if I was in to that sort of thing.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Then I realized the seats on Spirit Airlines don’t tilt back, which explained all the people trying to sleep by leaning forward and resting their foreheads on the seat in front of them, which is incredibly handy because that also puts you in pretty good position to say a few “Hail Marys” and a prayer which would probably include asking Jesus, Our Lord and Savior to help our pilot land in the right state.

I’m no business expert, but I predict that within the next six months Spirit Airlines will reduce their fares even further by ripping out their current seating and providing their passengers with folding chairs, then charging them for duct tape if they’d like to secure those chairs to the cabin floor in hopes of preventing injury when everyone else slides back to the ass-end of the plane on takeoff.

To give them credit, Spirit Airlines got me home safely and as they say, “Any landing you can walk away from is a good one.” Which I believe is the Spirit Airline company motto and if it’s not, really should be.

A learning experience

Baseball has a saying for everything and here’s one worth remembering:

“Some people have 20 years’ experience; other people have one year’s experience 20 times.”

Basically; some people learn as they go along and other people just keep doing the same shit over and over. If they were a rat in a maze, they’d never find the cheese. Since that last metaphor is disturbingly accurate in my case, I do my best to learn as I go along and my trip to L.A. taught me a lot:

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a bunch of bullshit, never make eye contact with someone living in a cardboard box, gin martinis are way better than the vodka version and while Die Hard is a great movie, Die Hard 2 sucks.

And one more thing:

When I go to spring training in March, I’m flying Southwest.