Fly the unfriendly skies

FLINT — Long before the recent United Airlines incident where a man was bloodied and dragged off a flight for not giving up his seat, I thought flying was the most dismal form of transportation known to man, with the possible exception of a gassy camel.

But that incident certainly confirmed it.

How many other modes of transportation can you think of where three goons can legally rough you up for not giving up a seat you paid for? What is this, Sopranos Airlines? Were those security guards Paulie, Sylvio and Big Pussy?

“Yo, we gotta wiseguy here. You gonna come quietly, buddy, or do we gotta do a little tap dance on your face.”

Poor David Dao is lucky he didn’t end up in a landfill, I guess. Good thing he didn’t ask for more pretzels or they’d have really let him have it.

And United Airlines is the “fly the friendly skies” airline. I guess a new slogan is in order. I have suggestions, of course.

“United Airlines: Don’t cross us. You’ve been warned.”

“United Airlines: Gonna return those tray tables to the upright and locked position now, punks?”

“United Airlines: Don’t make us come back there.”

Flying didn’t used to be like this. I’m old enough to remember when flying was the sophisticated, relaxing way to travel. You even dressed up a little when you flew.

These days, flying is downright barbaric. Depending on where you fly out of, you have to arrive two to three hours ahead of time to make sure you get through security. You add that to the time it takes to get to the airport in the first place to the time you waste on layovers to the time it takes to get to your hotel, it’s almost as faster to drive to where you’re going.

And in your car, no one’s likely to whomp the snot out of you for no good reason.

Then of course there’s the waddle of shame through security with one hand holding up your pants. I love that. Every time I do it I think, “We can send a man to the moon but we can’t make a machine that can tell the difference between my belt buckle and a box cutter?”

Hey, airline people. My jeans have metal buttons, metal rivets and a metal zipper. How come those are OK but not my belt?

I think it’s the airline’s idea of joke that they take your belt then tell you to put your arms over your head. I don’t know about you but one of these days my pants are bound to fall, hopefully not on a day I go commando.

And the shoes. Why is it we’re still taking off our shoes? Exactly one guy in the history of commercial flight has ever hidden a bomb in his shoes, and it wouldn’t light, which tells me it isn’t exactly a high percentage threat. Another guy tried to blow up his underwear, but you don’t see us yanking off our boxers and panties and putting them in bins, do you?

Oh, god. I think I just gave them an idea.

Forget I said that, OK?

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him vis email at