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Nina In New York: Surely They Can’t Be Serious

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JFK Airport - Queens, NY (file / credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

JFK Airport – Queens, NY (file / credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
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By Nina Pajak

A lot has changed since the last time I’ve flown a major airline.

Mainly, this regards the in-flight entertainment system. When I do travel, I make every attempt to fly on airlines like JetBlue, which gives me satellite television, or Virgin, which is a) bathed in purple light and b) makes it possible to order a sandwich and a Bloody Mary with the tap of a finger.

But on my recent Delta flight out to Los Angeles, a couple of things happened that had me clawing through my sleeping pill-induced haze to manage a few desperately-needed snarky comments to whoever would listen. Because they probably came out sounding like, “fffffffffshmewhatsis whozzat stupid pajamacat,” and not at all the incisive barbing I’d intended, I’m going to give it another shot here in the hopes that some of you have had a similar head-scratching moment too.

Related: CBSNewYork’s Guide To La Guardia Airport

It is no secret that the airline industry is, shall we say, struggling. It feels like every flight I take, there are more people, more seats, less room, fewer amenities, and filthier cabins. The next time I fly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve installed a coin-operated lock on all the lavatories and overhead compartment space requires a $500 upgrade. I’ve accepted these conditions. I realize that I should be thankful for my tiny bag of pretzels and the opportunity to wipe down the sticky child-residue from my own seat before takeoff, because in five years we could all be spending cross-continental flights sitting on chicken crates and holding onto safety straps during turbulence, dodging trunks filled with medical waste and human remains. I get it. I’m fine with it.

So I do my best to get on board, buckle my seatbelt, curl into a little ball, and self-medicate until we’ve landed. And that’s just what I was doing on our flight back from L.A. when I was jolted awake by what sounded a lot like . . . a car commercial. I blindly groped for my screen and hit the “off” button. But like a demon possessed, that thing would not shut up. I had to listen to John Slattery prattle on about his Cadillac or Chrysler or Maserati or Kia or whatever. Then, for a brief and delicious moment, it was over. And within five seconds, another commercial came blasting through. I couldn’t tell you what for, though, because I had my hands over my ears and was singing The Star Spangled Banner to myself in an attempt to block out the noise.

Really. I just stepped in gum while seated, and you’re subjecting me to commercials like I’m at the movies?

Then, a personal message from the CEO of Delta came on, in which he casually perches on his desk and tells us they’re a family company and they love us and they love their employees and they’re one big family and blahblahblah so eat your twelve peanuts and like them because we’re wholesome and this is America. That bit of spin was directly followed by a safety video with bizarrely high production values, featuring a woman of whom I imagine two things to be true:

1. She is in the middle of some sort of litigation against her plastic surgeon.

2. She is some Delta executive’s third wife who was introduced to everyone at last year’s Christmas party as a model/actress with a burgeoning career.

Honestly, between the duck lips and the heavily stylized direction of the video, I was far to distracted to listen to any advice on using my seat as a flotation device. I suppose I can see the logic behind using a flashier method of getting people to pay attention, but I’d much rather watch a regular old, non-shiny person demonstrate a seatbelt and have the money they spent on that video go towards making sure all the seats still recline (they don’t). Meanwhile, the poor flight attendants were listing against the cabin walls, half-heartedly holding up demonstration aids and knowing full well that everyone was glued to their screens, heads cocked, wondering exactly what kind of rhinoplasty decisions they were looking at and trying decide whether she was hot anyway. Five out of five men say yes. Four out of five women say wha?

After that, I was able to turn my little T.V. off for the duration. I suppose I could have used it for entertainment purposes, but I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of paying $6 to see a live Lady Gaga performance or watch the same two episodes of “Mike and Molly” on loop for the next five hours. My money instead went to an adorable bottle of red wine. And that, my friends, made all the difference.

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Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions and follow me on Twitter.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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