Scott Graves
Curry Coastal Pilot

If you ever find yourself in an airplane that’s on fire and hurtling toward a mountainside or the ocean, I’m the guy you want sitting beside you. I’m going to save your life!

That’s because I’m the only person these days who pays attention to the flight attendants as they perform their pre-flight “In-case-of-emergency-and-we’re-all-going-to-die” spiel.

Just the other day I boarded a plane and while the attendants dutifully demonstrated emergency procedures, I noticed all the passengers were blissfully ignoring these “LIFE SAVING!” instructions and instead were texting, chatting or worse yet, reading the inflight magazine! (Don’t they know how many life-threatening germs are on those magazines?!)

The passengers also didn’t notice that flight attendant “Bob,” who smiles way too much, was taking way too many drags from an oxygen mask. “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure these baggy things will magically drop down from over your head,” he said. And he had trouble remembering whether to use the seat cushion or your carry-on bag as a personal flotation device. He ended his cheery monologue by saying, “In case of a crash landing, place your head between you knees so your can kiss your butt goodbye.”

People laughed, thinking he was joking. I know better.

So, when the plane is about to crash, who do you count on? Not flight attendant Bob, who is now wearing a crash helmet, making the sign of the cross and no longer smiling. No. In those final moments, when passengers are screaming in panic, praying to a god they never believed in or asking Bob if their frequent flyer points can be transferred to their next of kin, I will calmly navigate the chaos to one of four emergency exits with the seat cushion firmly clutched in my hands.

Don’t get me wrong. There are inherent dangers in any form of transportation, but statistics provided by the international airline organization CLCBF (Crash Landings Can Be Fun) show that flying on commercial airplanes are one of the safest options. Many airlines use the encouraging data to create positive slogans such as “Fly the Friendly Skies,” “We fly high so you don’t have to” and “Turbulence? What Turbulence?”

A relative newcomer to the airline business is Spirit, the Motel 6 of the skies. It’s slogan is “Home of the Bare Fare.” It’s true! I spotted the slogan on the tail of one of Spirit’s planes parked at the terminal. It was written on cardboard, attached to the plane’s tail with duct tape. For some reason the slogan didn’t inspire confidence. Perhaps a better slogan would be “We Barely Get You There.”

So just how does Spirit cut costs in order to provide the “bare” fare?”

First, they buy duct tape in bulk at Costco. Second, instead of providing free inflight movies, the flight attendants perform puppet shows. In case of emergency, everyone has to share a single oxygen mask — Bob’s. And only the seat cushions on every third row can be used as flotation devices. Also, there are no bathrooms on the planes (but they do sell empty water bottles for $10), and all small children must be stored in the overhead bins.

Rumor has it that Spirit hires people who they believe deserve a second chance, such as those fired by the TSA, usually for over-zealous body searches, which is strange when you consider the TSA’s slogan “It’s Our Business to Touch Yours.”

Passengers who chose Spirit and find themselves nervous about flying can rest easy. The airline’s flight attendants are trained to make comforting statements such as: “I don’t know what made that large bump, but it happens all the time” or “Don’t worry. Flames shooting out the engine is perfectly normal.”

This is why Spirit is a big hit with thrill-seekers — danger junkies who like to bungee jump off bridges, strap rockets to their feet and read the inflight magazines. Perhaps Spirit’s slogan should be “Getting there is half the fun!”

Some Spirit planes are now equipped with wifi, but it’s only for the pilots, so they can use the Siri phone app:

Captain: “Siri, do I push the throttle forward or backward to avoid that mountain?”

They flight crew also uses the wifi to access Google Maps to pick the quickest route to their destination — and we all know how well that works.

Captain: “Sorry, folks. We’re going to have a small delay as we somehow ended up in Medford, Mississippi, instead of Medford, Oregon.”

And why the name “Spirit?” Perhaps it’s faith-based, as in the the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If that’s the case, the airline’s slogan should be “On a wing and a prayer” or “Performing miracles daily!”

So, the next time you fly, you’ll want me as a seat mate, especially if it’s on Spirit airlines.

Just make sure Bob isn’t on board, remember to sit in the third row, and bring your own oxygen mask and inflight magazine.


Scott Graves was editor of the Curry Coastal Pilot from September 2000 to November 2017. He can be reached by calling 541-469-3123 or