I flew JetBlue (one word, two capitals, no waiting, no chaser) for the first time about four minutes after it was invented. Seriously. I was a passenger on the prototype of their first plane the first time it left the tarmac at the 1939 World’s Fair, and when the flight attendant announced pre-boarding for passengers with special needs, we all paused a moment while the Lindbergh Baby, traveling unsupervised, made his way onto the aircraft. I’ve been a fan exactly that long.
Why? Why would I take part in an air travel experience that could have been the next safety-obsessed Qantas or the next Everglade-bound ValuJet (note, after all, the frightful LowerCaps comparison between JetBlue and the latter). Here’s why: TV. For those of you not down with the “In” box of the Shaw Report, JetBlue is a low-cost carrier that keeps its costs down by not serving meals on its flights. And, as a special perk, they offer each passenger twenty-four free channels of DirecTV on every flight (excepting the New York to San Juan flight, you Commonwealth-dwelling suckas!). Back in the day, I was so excited about the prospect of watching satellite television in midair that I booked a completely purposeless, superfluous flight clear across the country, invented the reason I had to go there, and was a full two hours into the flight before I looked around the cabin, rolled my eyes at my own folly, and spoke the words out loud, “Wait a sec…I freakin’ hate to fly. And also? I HAVE CABLE IN MY HOUSE.” But by this point, I was already in the air, diligently flying over the flyovers like any good citizen of New York and LA, counting the number of working channels (twenty-two) and the total number of those channels presently transmitting a show about golf (five). Deep into the fifth hour of my “Headliners & Legends” marathon on MSNBC (Sharon Stone is totally in MENSA, but you didn’t need to be 35,000 up to know that, did you?), I woke up in California, happy at least in the fact that I was on the cutting edge of an emerging national trend.
Awesomely, JetBlue now offers its DirecTV schedule online, where you can enter in your flight information and it will give you a printable grid. Cross-country flight booked for tomorrow, sedating drugs at the ready, and Inflight Program Guide in hand (in a manila folder, actually, because I am just that obsessive-compulsive), let’s plan my evening, shall we?
6:30 PM: The signal usually kicks out during takeoff, but there’s nothing on but an old episode of Match Game on Game Show Network anyway. And if there’s anything scarier than FoxNews when you’re hooking a left over Long Island Sound, it’s a boozy Betty White telling Gene Rayburn how often she “makes whoopie.” Or something.
7:00 PM: The Planet’s Funniest Animals on Animal Planet. Sigh. See what I mean? Maybe The Flintstones? Nothing I like more than a cartoon with a laugh track.
7:30 PM: Baseball! The Yankees have already beaten the Tigers, won the division, and pissed me off for another depressing off-season. And the game hasn’t even started!
8:00 PM: Something called Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. The former host of Remote Control has his own news show? To this hour, I bid a fond “hey hey hey, goodbye.”
8:01 PM: Ken Ober. Never mind.
8:30 PM: Emeril Live on The Food Network. Mech. Well, it’s better than the time my friend watched the guy fall asleep next to him on a flight to Buffalo with his TV on a History Channel show called Great Air Disasters Through History. Better. But not by much.
9:00 PM: Cosby on TV Land, y’all. Jam it on #1.
9:30 PM: Cosby on TV Land, y’all. Jam it on #2.
10:00 PM: Cheers.
10:30 PM: Cheers.
11:00 PM: I’m gonna read or sleep or work or scream or something.
Also, there’s a finer nuance than usual to this. For those fans of calendars, you’ll notice that I’m flying on the evening of September 10th. Clearly, this timing precludes me from watching any coverage of news, politics, current events, or history. Basically, of anything besides The Crocodile Hunter. Anyone wanna come with me to California tomorrow?
JetBlue and DirecTV. Awkwardly elided words synonymous with travel! And relaxation. And savings. And golf.
Pamela: I’ll call you from the rental counter.