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A Heightened Sense of Humor May Be Just the Solution for Air Rage

April 19, 1999|ROY RIVENBURG

Formerly Friendly Skies: Something weird is happening at 30,000 feet. With increasing frequency, unruly airline passengers are punching flight attendants, groping fellow passengers, accosting pilots and even walking out on lousy in-flight movies (unfortunately, this last maneuver can be fatal unless accompanied by a parachute).

The phenomenon is called air rage, and nobody seems to have any solutions. Nobody but us, of course.

After consulting numerous psychologists and then ignoring their advice, we concluded that humor is the best antidote to passenger frustration. Actually, some airlines already employ comedy: They ship luggage to funny-sounding places like Zimbabwe, serve meals made of rubber and shrink coach seats to dollhouse dimensions.

But much more could be done. For example:

* Install joke X-ray machines that shred carry-on items.

* Have baggage handlers slip live ferrets into luggage.

* Require pilots to occasionally board aircraft with dark glasses and seeing-eye dogs.

* Reroute flights over Serbian air space.

Until such steps are taken, however, the closest thing to an airport with a sense of humor is Seattle-Tacoma International, where we recently heard--seriously--the following announcements over the public-address system:

* "Sea-Tac is a nonsmoking facility: No smoking of cigarettes, pipes, cigars . . . or salmon."

* "This is Paul Schell, mayor of Seattle. Welcome to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. If you're coming home, welcome back. If you're visiting or just passing through, I hope you enjoy yourself, spend lots of money and never jaywalk. Also, please remember to tell everyone back home that it rains here all the time."

Alarming Trends Alert: Burger King plans to introduce Teletubby-shaped chicken tenders, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. No word from Jerry Falwell on what will happen if you eat a Tinky Winky piece.

Yes, There Is a God: Gerardo, the pop star who unleashed "Rico Suave" on an unsuspecting public in 1990, has announced he has no plans to resume his singing career.

Crustacean Crisis of '99: On a sad note, by the time you read this, World War III could be in progress and you might be dead. Too bad you didn't pay attention to Thursday's astrology column, which said everyone born under the sign of Sagittarius would be "invited to a dinner of broiled lobster."

Although this probably sounded great to Sagittarians who are homeless or living in nations struck by famine, we smelled trouble.

So we called Bill Palombo at the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen's Assn. and discovered the lobster industry was completely unprepared for the onslaught.

"That's one-twelfth of the world's population ordering broiled lobsters on the same night," he said. "There aren't enough crustaceans to go around."

Sensing the panic in his voice, we fled to an isolated area to avoid the inevitable worldwide food riots, NATO airstrikes and Teletubby-shaped lobster substitutes.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Sperm Bank Repossesses Baby When Woman Can't Pay the Bill!" (Weekly World News)

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