How I would describe airline travel to an extraterrestrial

June 26, 2014

Have you ever taken time to step outside of the normal protocol that we all, as the collective human race, have agreed is the acceptable way of doing things? Take airline travel, for instance. Let’s look into the typical experience of an airline traveler together, shall we?

I’ve had the distinct privilege of spending a lot of time in airports and airplanes as of late. I realize this entire rant will come off as a series of ridiculous #firstworldproblems (as it should). But I’m willing to bet I can make at least a handful of you laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Top 10 Ways I Would Describe Airline Travel to an Extraterrestrial

#10 In order to get from one place to another place without staying on the ground, you must spend a boatload of money to insert yourself into a metal contraption with other people who you would otherwise avoid like the plague.

#9 In order to board such a contraption, you must arrive at an overly crowded, hectic, muggy (or freezing), germ-filled “people pen” hours in advance of your flight.

#8 In order to be allowed into the “people pen,” you must have all of your possessions scanned, your body patted down (if you’re extra special), and your baggage tightly packed into a little box that may or may not reside on the same level of the metal contraption as you when you travel. If it ends up being stowed away, you have an 80 percent chance of seeing it again after your flight.

#7 Once you board the metal contraption, do not…I repeat DO NOT…be taller than 5 foot. Otherwise, you are pretty much screwed and won’t fit into your assigned spot.

My poor 6'5" coworker whose identity I've attempted to poorly protect.

My 6’5″ coworker whose identity I’ve attempted to poorly protect.

#6 Speaking of that assigned spot, it’s never really guaranteed until you park your backside into your actual seat. Depending on which metal contraption company you book your flight through, you may be surprised to find that someone who possesses the exact same assignment as you is already located in your seat. Because here’s the kicker: Seats are overbooked or double-booked sometimes. Crazy good times, right?

#5 No matter how many times you fly, you must sit through the “the talk” before you leave the ground. “The talk” consists of a series of instructions on what to do if your metal contraption decides to fall out of the air. You just sit there, along with everyone else, pretending to believe that as long as you insert your life vest or breathe through the oxygen mask per proper protocol, you won’t die as the death trap in which you’re riding nosedives 500 MPH to the Earth’s surface.

#4 If you’re really lucky, your assigned seat will be located next to a window that gives you a spectacular view of what surrounds your metal contraption. Sometimes that view consists of fluffy white clouds…or clear blue skies…or violent storms and lightning. But rest assured, dear friends, turbulence (which can be best described as the shaking, dipping, and diving that your body experiences when you have zero control of your destiny) is fleeting.

photo (11)

Blackness outside one moment, then a flash of lightning the next. Almost feels like you can reach out and touch it, from the electricity-conducting contraption in which you are trapped.

#3 You will be offered a free non-alcoholic drink while you’re in the air. Big spenders can get boozed up. Decide in advance whether or not you take up that service. If you do, you run the risk of having to relieve yourself in a space the size of a hall closest. If you don’t, you better wish on your lucky star that the air within your metal contraption is somewhat temperature controlled. Because when (not a matter of if, but when) your allowed amount of cool air has run out, you may be tempted to steal your neighbor’s left-over ice cubes when she’s sleeping.

#2 Try to avoid being tired. But if you are, rest assured, you can recline 1.5 inches to really stretch out and relax your neck and back muscles.

#1 The moment your metal contraption returns to Earth and comes to a safe, complete stop, and if you are sitting in an aisle seat, be sure to pop up like a coked-out meerkat. If enough people do this, you are able to depart the plane in exactly 29 minutes as opposed to 30.

Written by Heidi Woodard

6 responses to How I would describe airline travel to an extraterrestrial


    I somehow picture the extraterrestrial to whom you’re explaining this, responding with, “You guys double-book the seats??!! LIGHTBULB! Hey, Larry…!” The masses of Martians who fly Mars Intergalactic Spacelines are going to be none too pleased you’ve revealed our Earthly airlines’ secret to monetary success. I am happy you’ve successfully made it in and out of the sky every time you’ve been catapulted into it the last two weeks! Hope you can finally get home, keep your feet on the ground for awhile, and get some rest!


      I missed my own bed and it missed me. Austin told me that Murphy looked up at my bed more than once when I was away hoping she’d find me there sleeping. 🙂


    “Coked-out meerkat” Brilliant.

    If extraterrestrials were explained our flying protocol, they would probably still sack our cities, and exploit our resources, but probably not experiment on or probe us. They would have learned already learned that we are the dumbest creatures in the universe.

    Superimpose “flying protocol” with any other social protocol.

    I fly pretty often for a guy in the non-business world. For me, the best part are conversations airport sports bars. Ironically, I loathe conversations in airport seats.


      I am so glad someone appreciated that reference as much as I did, Roy. My husband is one of those who jumps up the minute the aircraft stops. I’m always like, “Really? Again? Haven’t you learned that it makes absolutely no difference in the time it takes to get off this stupid thing whether or not everyone in the aisle is standing at attention?”

      He claims he is just stretching out his back.


    It is out of this world!!