Thursday, June 01, 2006

Airline Travelers’ Religion

People pick the funniest things to base a religion on. I bet you never realized that there is an entire religion based on the baggage-checking habits of airplane travelers.

It’s true. There are two main sects in this religion: people who never  check their baggage, and people who always  check their baggage. Both adherents feel that they have attained some higher state of consciousness because they have discovered the universal truth to the definitive method of air travel. And both can rightly argue that their method is superior and that members of the other “denomination” are obviously doomed to eternal damnation for believing otherwise.

I have always fancied myself as an equal-opportunity apologist. The cynics in the audience will say that’s a fancy way of saying that I can argue out of both sides of my mouth. I like to say that I’m “objective” — so much so that I can effectively argue both sides of an issue without giving away my true feelings.

I shall now demonstrate such talent. See if you can determine my true religious leanings based on the contradictory arguments I give:

I always check my baggage

There is no group on the face of the earth that is any dumber than a bunch of passengers loading themselves onto an airplane. There’s something about hearing your row called while you’re holding a boarding pass that reduces the cumulative iq of the population by at least 50 points. I want to have no part in the madness.

People lose perspective when they attempt to gauge whether an item will fit into an overhead bin. I’ve seen people carry on golf bags, horse saddles, and mounted moose heads, thinking they were going to stow them above their heads. Hey, buddy, it ain’t gonna fit.

Even baggage that is specifically designed for overhead stowage seems to confound them. What part of “put the wheels-end in first” do they not understand? Folks, you can fit one roll-on baggage in a bin if you put it in sideways. Stow it correctly and you can put three or four in each compartment. Is that too difficult for your feeble minds?

No, I am not going to be guilty of such transgressions. My baggage goes to the nice man with his hand out and palm up at the curb. He takes my suitcase, puts a nice bar-coded ribbon on it, and loads it gently onto a waiting conveyor belt. Miraculously, it reappears on a suitcase merry-go-round only a few feet away from my rental car at my destination. No lugging through the airport and no cramming anything over my head getting dirty looks from all.

My laptop fits comfortably under the seat ahead of me. I fasten my seatbelt low and securely around my waist. And I watch the madness, wondering all the time, “How in the name of the Wright Brothers does that idiot believe that he’s going to stow that lampshade in the overhead bin?!”

I never check my baggage

People who check their baggage are stupid, wimps, and incredibly naïve. I can’t believe that anybody would actually trust their precious possessions to a bunch of nameless, faceless people on the other side of that conveyor belt who are making minimum wage and are only working in baggage handling because they couldn’t be trusted to work with metal detectors.

Did you know that the airline industry loses about 127 billion pieces of luggage a year? And they destroy the handles and straps of at least that many every day. They have a policy about “normal wear and tear” that must have been written by a team of lawyers, guaranteed that they are absolved of all blame.

Besides, when I get off the plane, I want to go where I want to go. What’s this idea of having to wait for you baggage to appear, if  it appears. I’m ready to leave; why isn’t my baggage?

No, my luggage stays with me. They always warn people to keep their possessions in their sight and under their control. Well, mine stays with me. It goes where I go when I go there. Under the seat, above my head, in my lap. I don’t care. It ain’t getting out of my sight.


There, I did it. I successfully argued both sides of a very controversial topic. And I did it in such a way that nobody who reads it could possible tell which side of the issue I’m on.

Nope, none of you guessed that I believe that people who never check their baggage obviously have the iq of warthog. Here’s hoping that their contents will shift during flight, because my contents are safely stowed in the lower levels of the aircraft. I’ll calmly pick them up on the way to my rental car, thank you.

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