The Flight That’s Not Quite Right


By Neil Offen


The Local Reporter

People are traveling again. That’s the good news. The bad news is that people are traveling again and we’re all trying to figure out at the same time how to book our flights. It’s not easy.

First, you must key in the airport from which you want to depart. If you don’t know the airport code letters, you’re assigned three letters at random and may have to leave from Bogota, Colombia.

Now you key in your destination airport, which also could be Bogota, meaning you will go nowhere but will still be charged $25 for your first checked bag.

Next, choose your departure date. This is generally the date you will depart unless your flight is canceled just after you have spent three hours going through security.

Choose your return date. It can’t be any day before your departure date. It also can’t be a Tuesday or National Dairy Day.

Are these your exact dates or are they flexible? Instead of returning on July 15, how would you feel about coming back on Nov. 9? Round-trip or one-way? Non-stop or one-stop? Do you prefer to be stuck at Chicago’s O’Hare for most of your vacation or rather be marooned in Newark?

Will you be checking your bag or trying to lift it above your head and doing three pull-ups with it while trying to jam it into the overhead bin? Are you a child, adult, a senior or an insurance salesman? Do you prefer morning, afternoon, evening or spending the entire day at the airport trying to get your smartphone to pick up the airport wi-fi?

Economy class, business class, first class or have you no class at all? If you have chosen economy, is it premium economy, full-fare economy, half-fare economy, early-saver economy, basic economy, extremely basic economy or standing-room-only economy next to a screaming infant? Will you be traveling with a monkey?

Please be patient. We are now searching for your flights, particularly the ones with the most difficult departure times and most inappropriate schedules. This may take some time.

Here are your possible flights. First select your outbound trip:

  • 5:15 a.m. This flight makes two stops, one in Atlanta and the other in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan. Arrival time is next Thursday.
  • 11:53 p.m. This is a direct, non-stop flight but you have to take the middle seat between someone who is having a sneezing fit and someone else’s monkey.

Now select your return trip:

  • 3:33 a.m.


  • 3:34 a.m.

For an extra $623, you can select your seat. Aisle or window or, as usual, would you prefer to be wedged between two enormous snoring people with enormous crying babies?

Total cost of the flights you have selected — $1,487, plus tax, fees and tips minus your co-pay if you have met your deductible. However, if you want a seat where the person in front of you doesn’t recline all the way back, add $142.


Since you’ve taken so much time to book, the price of your flights has risen by $381. Your reservation, however, is now confirmed. Please arrive at the airport three hours in advance of departure so you can take two and a half hours to go through security before you find out your flight has been canceled.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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