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Jewish Journal

Friendly Skies

by J. D. Smith

June 28, 2001 | 8:00 pm

I'd like to register a complaint against the airline industry. I know that I'm not alone, that there has been quite a bit of public outcry lately about flight delays and cancellations, but that's not my issue.

My problem is that my friend Greg Stern met his beautiful wife on a plane, and I've never sat next to an attractive woman on a plane unless I brought her with me. I know that smart, funny and attractive women must get to New York and back to Los Angeles somehow. They can't all be flying private. I saw Rachel Hunter get off a flight at LAX once, so it is possible. My issue with the airlines is that someone sat next to her, and it wasn't me. It's just not fair.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I've been fortunate enough to fly nearly 1,000 times in my life. And let's also say that only 1 percent of the people in the universe answer to the title "attractive women" -- and I'm not insisting on Rachel Hunter; just a charming unmarried female person. Given the random nature of seat selection, the law of averages says I should have sat next to at least 10 of them by now.

Alas, no. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I am 0-for-ever. I usually sit between a screaming baby and a fat man who took his last meal at an Indian restaurant. So now, when I'm booking my flight and the ticket agent asks, "Window or aisle?" I say: "What do you have next to an attractive woman?"

Imagine if such a thing as Good-Looking Class existed. You could forget about Business Class. Everyone I know would be trying to cash in some of their frequent flyer mileage for an upgrade. And imagine the disappointment when they tell you, "I'm sorry, sir, that section is completely sold out, but we do have a nice seat for you in Good Personality Class."

I used to think the problem lay in spending too much time flying coach with the tired, the poor, the huddled masses; or that I was using mileage to save a few bucks. Scrimping when I could have been pimping, so to speak.

I finally decided to splurge on a First Class seat on American No. 3 to JFK, the sexiest flight going. I specifically requested a charming seat partner.

There are several reasons why First Class is better than Coach, one of which is that you board the flight before the other passengers. I marched past the people in steerage, untroubled by their envious gaze, took my seat in 3A and awaiting my dream date. Another perk is that the flight attendants treat you with the respect afforded to someone with a lot of money to blow. They call me "Mr. Smith," and I let them.

A moment before they closed the door, a lithe, fashionably dressed blonde woman wearing sunglasses entered the cabin and walked like a runway model on the way to her seat two rows ahead of me. I pretended not to notice that it was Gwyneth Paltrow, leaving trace elements of perfume in her wake.

The Oscar-winner (who's half-Jewish, you know) was followed by a cloud of smoke, in the middle of which was a woman who sat down next to me in 3B. She had, evidently, paid a visit to the smoking room in the terminal, a room which is basically a giant ashtray. I've seen fires with less smoke. This creature must have smoked half a pack of Kools getting ready for her transcontinental nicotine fit. Charming.

If the Elephant Man had a sister, I sat next to her for six hours. It turned out that she was pretty good company, and we shared a cab into the city. Then we ran into each other at the theater the following night and went out for a drink. This is exactly how the plan was supposed to work, but Gwyneth was up there, giggling like a schoolgirl with the Pinstriped Suit in 1A, while I was stuck back in Row 3, breathing second-hand smoke from the vapors still rising off the Marlboro woman's clothes. What happened? I thought we had a deal!

I'm not asking for much. I'm not asking for membership in the Mile-High club. I just want to get the chance for a romance to blossom at 35,000 feet over a bag of peanuts and a ginger ale. If it ever happens, if the vengeful airplane gods should shine their countenance upon me, I know what I'm going to say to the attractive woman in the window seat next to mine. I'm going to say, "I've been waiting for you all my life."


J.D. Smith is cultivating relationships with people who have their own planes @ www.lifesentence.net

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