Thank you for this opportunity, dear reader. I’ve always wanted to write an article for an “in-flight” magazine. When I get on an airplane, the absolutely first thing I do is grab the magazine from the imitation leather pouch in front of me and see what’s on the cover. I’ll do this even before I fasten my seatbelt! That’s how eager I am to escape into Sky or Hemispheres or Latitudes or Departures. (If I had my own in-flight magazine, I’d call it Skywords! Get it? SKY-WORDS?)
I always hope for Clooney on the front. He’s usually got something interesting going on. Sometimes it’s about the horrors of Darfur or a political fund-raiser, or it’s about who he’s dating, or his terrific piazza on Lake Como (a place that he ADORES and is truly able to relax, where people just leave him BE and don’t treat him like a movie star!) or, occasionally, it’s about a movie.
And the cities. I love the cities. Stockholm. Bermuda. Bogota. Bangor! Places so few of us will ever actually visit. And yet? The convenient maps. The “3 DAYS IN ____” scenarios. The quaint local photos. The pictures of beaming waiters proffering a plate of sumptuous local cuisine directly to the camera. (I saw a photograph of sardines and polenta and a lighthouse and a cobblestoned lane in Stockholm that made me want to live there for the rest of my goddamn, miserable life.)
Turning to the back of the magazine, I gaze longingly at the eastbound versus the westbound movies. Which would I like to see most? Oh, shoot! I just missed Captain America and now I have to watch The Vow. Planes are where I’m able to catch up on the latest Adam Sandler or Katherine Heigl or Jason Statham films. Ones I don’t ordinarily see in theaters. Like family films. I don’t feel guilty watching a movie about dolphins or princesses or things talking that don’t ordinarily talk, at 30,000 feet. Movies get better the further up in the atmosphere you get.
Flip to the front and you’ll often find a note from the CEO of the airline, letting us know about the new planes they’ve acquired, the frequent flyer partnerships, and the new routes they’re adding. My confidence in the airline is soothed and I feel an immediate kinship with the brand. I gaze contentedly at the well-groomed CEO in his pilot’s outfit posing effortlessly next to his golden retriever.
And the chefs! Food is given a great deal of page count in an in-flight magazine. Why is that, I wonder? Airline food is, after all, notoriously bad. So many chefs, though. Celebrity chefs. Up and comers. Even the lowly airline chefs are often given a page where they talk about what kind of Zinfindel goes best with the in-flight salmon. Are they proud to be airline chefs, I wonder? Do they secretly long to be drizzling smoked duck breasts at a vineyard restaurant in Napa with something exotic? I would be thrilled to be an airline chef. Drawing up brief, little menus. Delving into the vast Rubik’s Cube of the chicken, beef, and pasta option scenarios. Learning what comprises a special order vegan or kosher meal. Purveying fun brownies from local purveyors.
And then, not wanting to finish the magazine in its entirety—not yet at least—I pull out that miraculous creation, the Skymall. I can spend a three-hour flight perusing its pages. It is a small, glossy miracle of capitalism. Adam Smith and Ayn Rand would have loved it! I softly close my eyes (I’m getting sleepy right about now) and imagine putting The Headache Relieving Wrap on my head as I sit under my Instant 9’ Diameter Sun Shelter, fondling my stainless steel wallet and gazing proudly at my yard statue of the “Meerkat Gang.” You may scoff, but think about the millions of desperate and hungry poor who would LOVE to have a floor-to-ceiling shoe rack, or a video camera flashlight, or a towel spa. Stuff: glorious, useful, ingenious, smile-inducing STUFF! Intelligent, radiant, things! Free copy—take it with you—we’ll replace it!
[NOTE: One day I’m going to have a birthday party and insist on gifts only from the Skymall. You’re all invited.]
Crossword puzzle? Check. Sudoku? Check. In-flight radio channels? More options than you’d be able to listen to in a lifetime. Best Lasik surgeons in America? Thank you, magazine. ROM exercise machine ad? (Why is it sooo expensive?) And who is that very old doctor with the wire-rimmed glasses and the body of Schwarzenegger? I’ll have what he’s having! LOL, LOL.
I love the maps of the airports at the back of the magazines. I always dwell far too long on Hobby or Hartsfield or Sea-Tac, wondering if they have a tram or shuttle system, or if the entire airport is reachable by foot (my preference). I picture planes coming and going from all the airports of the world, filled with passengers scattering hither and thither. Where are they going? Where are you going, dear reader?
Are you going to visit your great aunt? Is she sick? I hope not. Are you going to see a fresh new love that gives your life a fresh new hope? Is it a business trip for a sales convention at a large hotel/convention center complex not far from the airport where often stewardesses stay and watch movies on-demand and stretch their legs? Perhaps you are going somewhere for a funeral? That would be very, very sad. I wish you well, dear traveler, on your journey.
I salute you, flyers, as you pilot your life to Sea-Tac or Bangor or Stockholm. Bon voyage and enjoy everything this magazine and article has to offer! Let us nod as we pass one another in an aisle or on a concourse, or with the sun glinting off of the wing as our planes cross paths in the deep orange sunset.
[NOTE: This article was rejected by American Way, Sky, Hemispheres, Latitudes and Departures.]