Air travel has pretty much become like riding on a city bus, only with wings.
From the moment you’re prodded and patted down by the TSA to the time your buckled into a flying tin can breathing recycled oxygen, air travel is a thoroughly hectic experience.
Fortunately, our planes are safe. Only the finest materials and replacement parts are used. After all, we’re talking about public safety and human lives at risk. Right?
Yesterday, I was scheduled to fly on Allegiant Air. This is a budget airline based in Las Vegas. I’d never flown Allegiant Air before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Since the round-trip flight cost $150 cheaper than Southwest, this was too good a bargain to pass up.
Then, the news broke. The day before, an article appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It stated that half the Allegiant fleet had been grounded due to a maintenence issue. READ SIMILAR ARTICLE HERE
I read the article, which discussed the possibility of problems on all the jets. Apparently, the slides were faulty on the Allegiant planes. That’s right, slides.
From the movies, I seem to remember inflatable slides that pop out of the side of the aircraft. During an emergency, passengers are supposed to disembark from the fuselage and jump down a giant slide, which leads straight to the ground. Sort of like an amusement park ride, only the sliders are utterly terrified and shitting all over themselves.
Slides? Who in the hell needs a slide to ride on an airplane?
I decided — I’ll take my chances.
I figure this is one of those minor annoyances that shouldn’t really matter. As long as the engine starts and the wings are straight, get the fucker in the air and on my way. I have places to go and people to see.
As far as flying goes, a slide seems about as important as wearing an inflatable vest. I always get a kick out of that speech at the beginning of flights when you’re told to blow into your life vest to inflate “in case of a water landing.” Moreover, my seat cushion “can be used as a flotation device.” Good to have a backup plan, I suppose, if the plane plunges nose first into the ocean and your life vest fails. Hey, if I’m flying from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and I somehow hit water, I’m not interested in a life vest. Hell, I’m buying a lottery ticket.
And so I get seated in the emergency row, of course, which is kinda’ a bad deal for me and worse for everybody else since in case we crash I’m the one responsible for tossing passengers onto the slides — which we are told may not work. If it comes to all that, I suppose I’ll just have to wing it.
Now, I must say that I’m a shitty handyman. I have no home repair skills whatsoever. My idea of remodeling something is to call a contractor and ask him not to do any banging while the football game is on. So, I’m in no position to criticise someone else’s craftmanship.
But this is a fucking airplane. It flies through the sky at 600 mph and carries enough jet fuel to turn everyone inside to ashes. It’s like -55 degrees outside when in flight. And all that seperates a plane load of passengers from certain death is a six-inch wall of plastic and aluminium.
Here’s a photo I shot of my exit row. Notice the nice caulking job on the joints:
I realize this is a budget airline. You get what you pay for. But I’m more than a little disturbed that it looks like this aircraft is being held together by something that cost $2.49 at Home Depot and came out of a caulking gun.
I mean, you can see the “mechanic’s” finger prints in the seam, spreading the sealer around the airplane parts. Like putty. Couldn’t they at least have bought one of those 59-cent things that smooths out the caulk? I don’t know why that should make me feel better, but it would.
There is a silver lining in the cloud of concern. If this plane goes down and hits the ground with any force, it’s going to snap like a tinker toy. We’ll all be engulfed in flames instantly.
But hey — at least I won’t have be the doorman on the emergency exit door and worry about the slide inflating.