On Tuesday, I will join the masses of post-holiday travelers subjected to the whims of the TSA, the airline industry and the remnants of a blizzard. I’m still surprised people, including myself, pay for this privilege, but until we get personal jetpacks or bullet trains, it remains the quickest way between points A and B most of the time.
_”… on this very plane on which I sit on my way to Tokyo, there is a slab of this horrendous stuff on my black plastic tray, trying to hide under an equally doubtful pile of stuffing mix. It is punky pinky white inside, bouncy, uniform, and–the telltale sign that we’re all going to the demnition bow-wows–it’s moist. No actual chicken breast served in economy class is moist inside: the shreds are dry and overcooked. The shriveled hard green peas next to it were by contrast consolingly “natural.” I held the chicken up on my plastic fork to investigate it as a steward came by. “Is there anything wrong?”
_”I just wondered what this is.”
“Oh,” he said conspiratorially, “we are told to call it chicken.”_
On rare occasions I’ve actually enjoyed airline food, though, as White notes, this only occurs on foreign flights. Croatian Airlines served its passengers–even those of us in coach–on fine china. On a First Air flight out of Montreal, we were offered wine with our dinner, poured into real wine glasses by friendly flight attendants. (So friendly, in fact, when I asked for second glass they gave me, instead, the bottle–and not one of those Lilliputian bottles, at that. A real, adult-sized bottle.)
I’ve also started bringing my own food when I fly, typically something simple like elk jerky or a bag of GORP. And forget paying $4 for a bottle of water at the airport. My Nalgene bottle goes with me, carried empty through security and refilled at a gate-side water fountain to help wash down the humiliation of being violated by TSA.
Despite the cries of displeasure coming from their customers, airlines have no real incentive to change. They know they have us bent over the proverbial barrel–but really, is a bag of peanuts too much to ask for?