Last night, I’m PHL to DEN and I’m seeing the normal Denver-bound sights (sadly, no B Dawg this time). Denver-bound “looks” go something like this: white women with dreadlocks (you know, the hair is so long and dirty it just starts clinging to itself and forms frizzy dreadlocks); white men wearing climbing gear with crampons slung over their shoulder; dozens sporting nose, ear, lip piercings; babies clad in outfits made of hemp; hair colors that include magenta, cyan and celadon; and folks who look like they would, if they could, have brought their Cannondale’s as carry on. It’s healthy, but it’s sprinkled with a little dirty.
So, I’m watching all these Denver types pass by (yeah, I’m in 1D so everyone passes by me). This gets me thinking about the typical look of passengers on some other flights. And then I think, I wonder if I was blindfolded and put on a plane without knowing where it was headed. Would I be able to tell just by looking at the passengers, where we were headed?
Take West Palm. If you can’t figure out that you’re heading to PBI, something’s amiss. First off, there will be many, many gate assists. That’s code for wheelchairs. Not that there is anything wrong with wheelchairs, it’s just that there will be a disproportionate amount on this flight. Once I was headed to West Palm and there were 20 wheelchairs lined up to board (what’s that, a 1:5 ratio?). Second, there will be lots of small barking dogs on this plane, attached to women wearing gold lame tops and leopard slacks (pink toenails and bejeweled sandals too).
West Palm’s close cousin is Ft. Meyers. Discerning the difference between a flight going to PBI and RSW based solely on observing other passengers takes great attention to detail. I think it will boil down to this: the Ft. Meyers (aka Naples) folk still play golf and hence are wearing more polo shirts. There is a slightly less “new rich” air about them, but it is ever so slight.
Orlando and Vegas are children’s play. The latter flight is filled with dramatically overweight passengers wearing T-shirts donning sports teams, concerts, or bands. Or they just flat out say “Vegas, Baby”. If we’re Vegas bound, everyone looks frumpy but happy; if we’re home bound they look broke and hung over. Men are often wearing jewelry and the women run the gamut from juicy leisure wear to tube tops. Orlando flights are filled with children, strollers, stuffed animals, blankies and juice cups. I hate going to Orlando.
LA is tricky, but not impossible. One clue, of course, will be that I’m on the flight for a good long while. But that aside, the passengers will be a mix of young, hip and trendy vs. business-types. The good news is that no one will talk and everyone will sleep and the flight attendants will not bother caring about anything too much.
That gets me thinking about when I was young and went from London to Florence via boat and then train. It was all fine until that final Italian train ride; I would know I was on an Italian train anytime – even today.
This game has me amused for quite a while until I notice we’ve taxied to the far end of the airport, miles from an actual runway. We’re in “pause mode”. Here, I find myself wishing I was heading nowhere, and not sitting on a tarmac playing a silly game whose only conclusion is that I need a real vacation, to a place where I can’t pigeon hole the other passengers and where I can pack a bag filled with Athleta clothes and not Nicole Miller dresses.
Then I wonder, is my game a potential new reality TV show? Could it go global?
Write and tell me how you know (based on the other passengers) where you’re headed.