Armrest Seating, Anyone?

Speaker's Corner: Think it was bad when a Chinese airline recently asked passengers to hold it during flights because flushing the toilet burns expensive fuel? Join Sarah Schmelling aboard an airline where a full bladder is the least of your worries.

02.09.07 | 7:46 AM ET

Airplane WindowWelcome aboard Flight 2821 with service from Los Angeles to Washington Dulles. I’m Michelle, your chief purser, and I’ll be assisted by Toby, our Steward 3000(tm) microbot, who may look like a coffeemaker, but who can in fact provide all attendant services, apart from CPR, water rescue and any interaction with children under 5.

Our flight tonight will be under the command of Captain Bruce Andrews, incidentally my prom date two years ago at Menomonee High—Go Boll Weevils!—and a recent graduate of our Superexpress Online Piloting Education program. In lieu of a first officer, Captain Bruce will be flanked by Don Pleymouth, acting manager of the LAX Sbarro. If he can navigate as well as he can heat up precooked chicken vesuvio, we’re in for a smooth ride.

In a few minutes, those of you in viewing distance of our working television monitors will see a safety demonstration video. For the rest of you, we recommend waiting until we reach a safe cruising altitude to get up and ask the people in viewing distance of the monitors what the video entailed. Note that the non-working monitors have been retooled as air mask storage bins: should there be a loss in cabin pressure and your masks fail to drop in front of you, now you know where to find them.

A word on seating. We recently introduced Feel Like a Model(tm) couture seats that comfortably fit anyone under a woman’s clothing size two. If your girth exceeds this, we recommend lying sideways with your legs pointed diagonally and your feet tucked snugly under the seat in front of you. As for those of you who are slim enough to qualify for Armrest Seating, you don’t have allocated tray tables for food and beverages. But if your clavicles are an indication of your eating habits, I don’t think that should be a problem.

You’ll also notice that our airline recently removed all lavatories to make our 737s even more spacious. Happily, Toby the microbot doubles as a commode and would be thrilled to serve you. Just find a discreet corner and tell him to wheel on over.

I’m told that we’re now 14th in line for takeoff after planes and city vehicles, because of course the airport rents our runway to Los Angeles County Metro Bus Route 54. But once we get going, please relax, sit back—or diagonally, as I described—and enjoy your flight.

Now that we’ve successfully reached our cruising altitude of 36,000 feet—I said that you could do it, Bruce. Way to go!—we’ll soon begin our beverage service. Tap water, “orange juice,” and Diet Dr Pepper are complimentary, but please note that we provide one beverage per row, so you might want to begin discussing your shared choice with your seatmates, not including the Armchair passengers of course. What’s that? No, I didn’t just do air quotes around “orange juice.” No, I didn’t just do it again.

We do have food available for purchase. Tonight there’s a choice of Uncooked Portobello Mushroom or the Chunky Mayo Wrap. Both entrees come with a Jolly Rancher and are $38.17 each. We appreciate exact change. We’ll also begin our entertainment programming: 1987’s “The Facts of Life Down Under,” followed by the instructional video that came with my Cuisinart. And though only eight of you might be able to see the entertainment, most of you can hear it, if your armrest is unoccupied and you purchase our headphones, which are just $25 per ear. Enjoy!

Since our flight attendant call buttons have apparently all gone missing, I’ll try to answer your questions up here. For the woman looking for her elderly father, do you remember that 20,000-mile plummet about the time Tootie met the guy claiming to be an Aborigine? It seems Captain Bruce thought the plane kept “sort of tugging to the right,” so he took advantage of our new SkyDiveGottaTryIt(tm) feature and ejected your dad, among other passengers, via deluxe parachutes over Phoenix’s Sky Harbor. It may feel like an inconvenience now, but you would not believe the reward points he’ll get for that.

What? Where to find his checked luggage? You checked luggage? That’s hilarious.

Another question. Yes, it’s unusual to be flying over a large body of water on the way to D.C. from L.A. Air traffic got a little busy, so we just had to make a small diversion over the Bay of Bengal. I mean Lake Michigan.

As for the person inquiring about our entrees, what exactly did you think Uncooked Portobello Mushroom meant? Also, I’m sure we could have helped those with logistical issues with Toby if someone hadn’t stuffed him in an overhead bin about 45 minutes ago. Which was also pretty inconsiderate for the passengers in Storage Compartment seating.

Oh, Bruce, why are you sitting here? Come on, that big bad air pocket didn’t mean to scare you. Go on back up, honey. I’ll be right there. He’s such a sweetie.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m happy to report that we’ve been cleared to land here at Atlanta Hartsfield, which really isn’t far from Washington, globally speaking.

In preparation for landing, please make sure your tray tables are stowed, your seats are upright, the Armchair passengers stay in place—one hand ought to hold them—and the diagonal passengers don’t slip through their seat belts. When the plane slows down, I kind of have to run; I was due on another flight like three days ago. So ensure you have your belongings, apart from those we had to unload during the fuel stop in Jakarta, give us back any uneaten mushrooms, and try to keep the wailing to a minimum.

I mean, really. You could have been in coach.

Photo by jetalone (Flickr, Creative Commons).