I was at this casino minding my own business, and this guy came up to me and said, ‘You’re gonna have to move, you’re blocking a fire exit.’ As though if there was a fire, I wasn’t gonna run. If you’re flammible and have legs, you are never blocking a fire exit.
– Mitch Hedberg
The late Mitch Hedberg is one of my favorite comedians. I thought of this joke recently as I made my way back from Shreveport, LA. I have an unfortunate travel schedule. I travel enough to be what I would call an “experienced” traveller, but I don’t travel enough to earn my way into the airline rewards programs. So, upgrades are rare for me.
I recently took a trip to Shreveport. Our corporate travel coordinator chooses seats for me based on my preference for the window. As I looked at the return flight, I was a little disappointed. The flight from Shreveport to Dallas was on a small jet. You either had an aisle seat or a window seat and if you were in first class, you had both. I had a nice window seat back around row 18. It’s a 45 minute flight.
The longer leg, from Dallas to Salt Lake had me sitting in a middle seat. It’s a four hour flight. I made a mental note to try to change my seat. As I checked in the day before my return flight I notice that there was exactly one empty seat in the entire plane. It was a window seat in row 22. Score!
I quickly gave up my middle seat and selected seat 22F. My luck is not normally that good. The trip was a huge success. And I was already feeling good, tired, but good for the return trip. I normally don’t check my luggage. Sure, the company would pay the $25 fee, but it’s just easier to pack light and do a carry on. However, I will check my bag at the gate if the flight is full.
PRO TIP: If you want to check your bag, wait until you get to the gate. Ninety percent of the time they will check it for you for free.
The plane for the trip from Shreveport West to Dallas was too small to accomodate my rollerbag. I did a gate check. But, not to my final destination. I would pick it up on the jetway in Dallas. But, there was a chance I’d be able to get them to carry for it from Dallas to SLC in the cargo hold.
It might seem contradicatory to refuse to check my bag, but then hope I could check my bag. It’s not. It’s really all about convenience. I paid the $85 to get TSA Precheck. That means that if I have my boarding passes already, I can go straight to security when I get to the airport. I don’t have to pull anything out of my bag, and typically it’s nearly a non stop walk from the time I hit the airport entrance to the gate. But, I’d rather not have to hassel with finding overhead space for my bag. Like I said, convenience.
Once I got to Dallas, I approached the gate agent to ask about checking my bag.
Do you think you’ll need to check bags today?
Let me see. . .sure, I can check your bag.
By the way, my exit rows are completely empty. Would you like me to upgrade you to an exit row?
Really? Sure. A window seat would be great.
Anyone who has crammed themselves into what the airlines call a seat knows that having the extra space in exit row is like going from a Smart Car to a Limo.
The airlines figured that out too and if you choose to upgrade to the exit row, it will typically cost you about $40. However, if the flight is not too full, and it’s full of people like me who are willing to live life as a human pretzel for four hours rather than upgrade, the seats remain empty.
I figured I’d save them having to ask me the required question about my willingness to help others in an emergency.
And I’m willing to help anyone in the event of an emergency. Do you actually have some people who say they wouldn’t help?
Do they not realize that “in the event of an emergency” really means, “You get to be the first one out of the potentially burning airplane?”
Maybe those people have never listened to Mitch Hedberg.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved