Elvira has been pestering me of late. She wants to know what happened to that book I wrote a long time ago: Flying madness. It was a collection of short, funny stories (mostly true, but somewhat embellished). I don’t know what happened to the book, and I couldn’t rewrite it even if I tried. I do remember some of the stories, and this is one of them. I don’t remember who told it to me, all those years ago. Some colleague from Ansett Australia or American Airlines. It’s probably all over the net by now; airport stories always end up somewhere on the net.
So, Elvira, this is for you.
John Gay, airline employee, decided to go on holidays using the discount tickets that airlines usually offer for staff. He got his standby boarding pass, and was fortunate enough to get a seat at the last-minute gate check. But when he tried to take his seat, he found another passenger was already sitting there. Holders of freebee tickets do not make a fuss, so he simply chose another seat with no passenger sitting on it. Easy, as “free” passengers are usually last on board.
Unfortunately, another flight at the airport was having technical problems (all right, either the plane or the pilot were down). The passengers of this flight were being rerouted to various other flights, Mr Gay’s included. So every seat was needed and “free” passengers were being bumped. The dispatcher, armed with a list of freebee ticket holders and their seat numbers, boarded the plane to tell them they had to give up their seats in favour of fare paying passengers.
So, when the flight dispatcher approached the seat where our mate John Gay was supposed to be sitting, she asked him “Are you Gay?”. The man said that yes, he was, so she told him that he had to get off the plane.
John Gay, realizing what was happening (it’s a standard procedure), stood up and tried to clear up the situation: “I’m Gay, I’ll get off!”.
Then a passenger sitting a few rows back stood up as well and yelled “Hell, I’m gay too! They can’t kick us off!”. Then a fourth, and a fifth, and it was pandemonium as more and more passengers began yelling that the airline had no right to remove gays from their flights.
As far as I know, they’re still on the tarmac trying to sort out the mess.