A tension in the departure lounge

In this 2009 photo, an Alaska Airlines passenger jet lifts off from Juneau International Airport. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Attention passengers traveling on flight 67 with service to Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau (although who knows whether we’ll actually be able to land or take off again from any of those places, so really, don’t get too attached to arriving at your scheduled destination).


In just a moment we’ll begin boarding, by which I mean abruptly ending the conversation with any old friends you’ve happened to run into in the departure lounge so you can shove past them onto the airplane.

But before we begin the boarding process, we would like to pre-board tonight’s flight.

At this time, we ask families traveling with small children and any passengers needing extra assistance down the jet-way… to step aside while we pre-pre-board all other passengers who, by enrolling in one of our various customer loyalty programs, are officially better human beings than you.

We will begin by pre-pre boarding any MVP 75K, MVP Elite or MVP Gold members. Followed by pre-pre-pre-boarding for any MVP Silver, MVP Bronze or MVP Platinum members, followed pre-pre-pre-pre-boarding for all MVP Titanium, MVP Aluminum, MVP Cadmium, MVP Galvanized Steel, MVP Nickel-Copper Alloy and MVP Iron Pyrite members.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, MVP Iron Pyrite — it’s a new promotion. At the MVP Iron Pyrite level, we fool you into believing you’re receiving MVP Gold benefits, while, in point of fact, you’re seated in the baggage hold, next to the frozen lavatory waste. But you do get a complimentary fig bar. Membership has its privileges.

Your attention, please. Federal regulations prohibit congregating by the gate entrance. If you aren’t a member of the aforementioned rewards clubs, please wait in the departure lounge. Of course, all departure lounge seats are reserved for rewards club members. And their teeny-tiny dogs. I’m sorry, I mean their “support animals,” although how much support can they possibly provide all zipped up inside a shoulder bag?


Ladies and gentlemen, by whom I mean plain, old, regular ladies and gentlemen as opposed to some fictitious hierarchy of ladies and gentlemen concocted by marketing, please be patient. The plane won’t leave without you. Well, unless you get bumped, which, technically, you can be by all MVP members at the Pig Iron level or higher.

At this time, we would like to begin pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-boarding for any active members of the military. We thank you for your service, by inviting you to sit even longer on a un-air-conditioned plane wedged between a shrieking toddler and a 300-lb. dude who recently consumed multiple airport burritos.

We will now continue by pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-boarding members of our partner airlines’ rewards programs. Okay, so you aren’t even technically our customers. You do have a valid user ID and password and that should count for something. Tell the flight attendant to let you have the whole can of soda.

Attention, passengers. We remind you that Alaska Airlines runs a “cashless cabin.” Earn double points when you use your Alaska Airlines Visa card to purchase snack cart items, triple points for any Sky Mall purchases, and quadruple points if you just let us swipe your card and key in whatever amount we want. The Alaska Airlines Visa card: what’s in your wallet?

No, seriously, what’s in there? We’ll take whatever. All of it.

Now, where we were we? Right. We are pleased to announce pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-boarding for any passengers seated in the bulkhead row of the main cabin, which, thanks to three extra inches of legroom, qualifies as a special class in and of itself, although you still have to pay for drinks and you don’t get any warm nuts (unless you qualify for an upgrade).

And, finally, we now call pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-pre-boarding for any passengers who downloaded our mobile app, as well as any passengers who allowed us to embed a homing beacon in their skulls. Same difference.

Thank you.

Okay. That’s everybody (at least who matters).

Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate your patience. And now, it gives me great and enduring pleasure to begin boarding for anyone who simply spent several-hundred dollars on a ticket and assumed that alone was good enough to gain admission to the airplane.

At long last, we will begin general boarding with row —

Pardon the interruption, ladies and gentleman. I’ve just been informed that due to a mechanical issue, we will need to deplane until it can be fixed. Please listen for further announcements, when we will begin the entire pre-boarding process all over again.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and thank you for flying Alaska Airlines.*

* — Official “Sorry” and “Thank You” valid for MVP rewards members only, and even then, there’s a $100 fee for us to mean it.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning writer and humorist. Catch him and the rest of a local star-studded cast for a live script reading of the “Princess Bride” at the Gold Town Nickelodeon tonight at 7:30 pm.


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