Petri: Green New Deal would deny us pleasures of air travel

Where would we go for the lines, pat-down searches, turbulence and lost baggage we deserve?

By Alexandra Petri

The Washington Post

On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and Sen. Ed “Waxman-Markey” Markey, D-Massachusetts, released their Green New Deal framework, policies to combat climate change over the next 10 years. Among the details of the proposal that have been causing some indignation — along with the proposal that everyone be given a family-sustaining job (Everyone is a lot of people!) and farting cows be eliminated (That is like saying, “Death to all cows!”) — is the vision that high-speed trains be developed to the point that air travel is no longer necessary.

Well, let us address airplane travel. How are we to deny Americans this unparalleled experience? First there is the arrival at the airport, a metallic-and-white palace of pleasures that would make Kubla Khan swoon. There you may buy a T-shirt that bears the name of the place you are, a piece of information known only to the place’s visitors, and a picture of a local product (“Nobody Visits Ohio Just Once,” “Wisconsin Was Formerly Known to Have Cows Before the Green New Deal,” “I Bet I’ve Been to Illinois, Huh,” “Don’t Tell Ma What’s in Michigan,” “Keep Indianapolis at Least Superficially Normal”).

You wait in a line where you must show someone a picture of yourself, and also your phone, and then you experience some interactive theater as a fun lagniappe with your ticket price. You and your fellow travelers enter a world of collaborative make-believe where you pretend that removing your laptop from your bag and isolating your liquids in small containers is contributing to America’s safety. It’s like Sleep No More, kind of!

You then strike a fun pose while a machine takes what the airplane employees claim is a picture of you. On this picture, something that is obviously your wristwatch lights up as a little green dot, so you are treated to a firm arm massage from someone looking at you as though you are suspicious (probably some people are really into that) before you can retrieve your shoes and go about your business. This, of course, assumes you are playing on the “Easy” setting as a white lady.

After you get to the gate (like hell, airports are replete with gates), you board the plane.

Perhaps the best part is when you go up in the plane and the plane bounces a little bit, just to help you feel alive. No, I think it is when the flight attendant rushes up the aisle and you see all the flight attendants muttering together in low, urgent tones. No, it is when the in-flight announcement system seems to turn on, then turns off, and then you hear a series of ominous dings.

We can certainly agree that this is the best part of air travel, because you will hear there is “slight chop,” and then for the next hour to two hours, you get to think about your mortality, something we too seldom do in this society. You get to make all kinds of silent promises and vows. Maybe you can even think about greenhouse gases — the plane emits a lot of them — but then the plane bounces again and you are comforted by the thought that you will not have to deal with the ramifications of that because you are going to perish right here, your in-flight magazine open on your lap to a crossword someone else began to fill out incorrectly, in pen. You get to think about everything in your life you regret, and then someone brings you a pretzel.

And then you land, if you are lucky! Even if you aren’t lucky, I suppose, you land. Then you know the unspeakable joy of retrieving your baggage from a wild merry-go-round full of other bags meticulously designed to resemble yours as much as possible to sow confusion. This keeps you mentally sharp!

We cannot deny Americans this rare occasion to drink tomato juice while regretting everything they have done in the past, is the point.

To those of you who still shun planes, have fun whizzing splendidly across the nation in the hideous luxury of a train, fidgeting in a surpassingly comfortable chair as cows (pending approval), fields and all the glories of the continental United States slide by, forced to weep with emotion at the sheer beauty of its whistle and the majesty of its motion.

The time I spent on the Amtrak Residency for Writers (a real thing), zipping along the exquisite coast of California and winding through the plains of Montana as I consumed three round meals a day then retired to my Superliner Roomette was one of the greatest tribulations of my life. I do not envy you one bit. No one should.

Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter @petridishes.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

Artist Natalie Niblack works amongst her project entitled “33 Birds / Three Degrees” during the setup for Exploring The Edge at Schack Art Center on Sunday, March 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The paintings feature motion-activated speakers that play each bird’s unique call. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: For 50 years Schack Art Center there for creation

The art center is more art studio than museum, supporting artists and fostering creativity in kids.

Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, June 12

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Everett principal Betty Cobbs served kids, community for 51 years

Education and community. Those words are the best America has to offer;… Continue reading

Tufekci: Covid a lesson for officials on fragility of trust

In seeking to manage the message, scientists and officials took risks that have cost the public’s trust.

Collins: Republicans’ zeal against Biden’s son a double-standard

While they’re attacking Hunter Biden’s gun possession, they’re working to relax similar gun measures.

Snohomish School District’s Clayton Lovell plugs in the district’s electric bus after morning routes on Thursday, March 6, 2024, at the district bus depot in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Editorial: Money well spent on switch to electric school buses

With grants awarded to local school districts, a study puts a dollar figure on health, climate savings.

Mangrove trees roots, Rhizophora mangle, above and below the water in the Caribbean sea, Panama, Central America
Editorial: Support local newspapers work to hometowns’ benefit

A writer compares them to mangrove trees, filtering toxins and providing support to their neighbors.

FILE - A worker cleans a jet bridge at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., before passengers board an Alaska Airlines flight, March 4, 2019. Seattle-based Alaska Airlines owns Horizon Air. Three passengers sued Alaska Airlines on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, saying they suffered emotional distress from an incident last month in which an off-duty pilot, was accused of trying to shut down the engines of a flight from Washington state to San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Editorial: FAA bill set to improve flight safety, experience

With FAA reauthorization, Congress proves it’s capable of legislating and not just throwing shade.

Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, June 11

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Krugman: Yes, the debt is huge, but we’ve got bigger problems

Reducing the debt is a relatively simple task, but it takes political will and bipartisan action now in short supply.

National leaders must address U.S. debt crisis

Kel Wilson’s Forum essay regarding the national debt is important (“National debt… Continue reading

Work and wisdom of Trump’s trial jury should be respected

Donald Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts of falsification of business… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.