The Future of Air Travel
I love Paris, especially in the summertime. While I’m not very good with the language, I always find the French very warm, friendly and welcoming, at least compared to SoHum. Sipping a Pernod at the Brasserie Balzar on Rue des Ecole in my red Nebraska Cornhuskers sweatshirt, I feel completely at home.
“Qui a laissé que étron dans mon café? “” I hear one patron say to another, motioning towards me.
I smile, wave and respond “Je ne sais pas, comme la plupart des étrons, j’ai été abandonnée par ma mère à la naissance.”
”Et telle une odeur horrible” he continues.
“Vrai”, I say, “Je ne sens rien puisque comme un enfant une fusée a volé jusqu’à mon nez.” Like I said, I’m not that good with the language, but that seemed to work. I return to my writing. Much as I love France, the French people, and Paris, I have a job to do.
Every two years, at the historic airfield where Charles Lindbergh landed the Spirit of St. Louis. Aircraft manufacturers around the world bring their latest creations to dazzle the public and write some contracts. From Mercedes’ newest corporate helicopter, to the giants of the skies from Boeing and Airbus, at the Paris Air Show we see the future of air travel on display. At least a future they’d like us to believe.
From what I saw at the Paris Air Show, the future of air travel looks very bright indeed. They showed a magnificent plane with a transparent fuselage and a wide, spacious cabin. Roomy seats with ample armrests, reclined all the way back, to form flat cots. With wide aisles, panoramic views and plenty of leg room, the inside of this very luxurious plane looked more the lobby of a resort hotel, than any airliner I’ve flown in.
From what I experienced on my flight to Paris, however, the future of air travel seems quite bleak. I don’t really think that technological hurdles prevent airlines from providing amenities to air travelers today. In fact, airlines have cut many more perks than they’ve added in recent years, a trend I think likely to continue into the future. How will airlines treat you, the flying public, in 2025? I shudder to think.
After stripping, and submitting to a full body cavity search, you board the plane nude, where a flight attendant will shackle you to your seat. The flight attendant will hang a large ziplock bag, emblazoned with the airline’s logo, around your neck, containing your (or more likely, somebody else’s) clothes and shoes. Flight attendants now demand strict discipline. You will obey them, or they will punish you.
A string of airliner hijackings and bombings in the late twenty-teens, led to these invasive new security procedures, but not a single airliner has been hijacked since the mandatory “strip, shtumpf, and shackle” policy took effect in 2020. However, since the new system went into effect, thousands of passengers suffer long term symptoms of PTSD as a result of routine flights.
Very few people fly anymore with out the aid of significant medication, making in-flight conversation much more surreal. Air sickness remains a problem, complicated by medication and increased stress. Flight attendants provide a complimentary sani-wipe, in a foil envelope emblazoned with the airline’s logo, to every passenger when they release the shackles at your destination.
Dazed and disoriented, you wipe yourself off, struggle to put on whatever clothes you find in the bag, and try to remember who you are and where you are going. Smart travelers long ago learned that they could avoid a lot of trouble and expense by simply buying new clothes at their destination. But you, the inexperienced traveler, proceed to the baggage claim carrousel in hopes of finding your luggage.
By the time TSA screeners have have examined, and pilfered the contents of your bag, and airline baggage handlers have manhandled, dropped and run-over your bag with a forklift, what you see on the carrousel looks more like a giant pile of dirty laundry, with a bunch of open suitcases thrown in. after an hour or so of picking your belongings from the ever revolving heap, you feel you’ve found enough of your wardrobe to get through a few days. Then you collapse, sobbing, and curl up into a fetal position on the floor of the airport terminal for a few hours. You’ll probably be OK… eventually. Thank you for flying the friendly skies.
I think I’ll walk next time, thanks anyway.