Terminal comedy (Airplane 3: The Revenge)

Like a downtrodden nerd who’s just been stuffed in his locker by an American movie jock and shouts ‘Oh yeah?’ too late to be effective, I’ve just thought of a comeback. It’s a year and a half late, but I’m going to say it anyway, because, as the kids say, that’s how I roll. Remember that British Airways employee banned from wearing a cross? At the time I was sympathetic, but also uneasy about something. I said nothing then, but here it is: I don’t care! If she works for an airline, she’s the enemy.

This has nothing to do with climate change. I just hate airlines. Apart from the fact that they are masters of shifting blame (you miss a connection because bad weather slowed your progress to the airport? Tough luck: your problem. But if you’re there on time and conditions hamper the airline is it their problem? Not so much). And apart from the fact they seem to think that getting your luggage to your destination with you is a bonus rather than an essential service you pay through the nose for, I believe they’re power-mad.

In what other customer-led business can you have someone arrested for making an obvious joke about a (or even saying the word) ‘bomb’ at the wrong time?

Airlines claim this is for safety. I think nobody wants to question their power. Why should one not be allowed to make an obvious joke about a bomb? I can understand hoax bomb-threats or wasting security staff’s time with serious allegations, but saying: ‘Ha ha, what’s that ticking sound inside your bag?’ or answering: ‘not a bomb’ when asked what’s in the suitcase is insensitive, but not dangerous.

Humour is the first casualty in any scary situation, and as someone who has actually spent time in a cell for the sake of a joke, I am aware how serious that casualty can be. But I do not think that justifies it. Comedy is a good way to deal with fear, with tension and with boredom. Those three things are essential aspects of the modern airport, so I’d like to call for Terminal 5 (opened last week by Her Royal Ha Ha Haness, The Queen) to be a comedy-amnesty zone. If anyone does or says anything to do with hijacking, bombs or terrorism that is not obviously a joke (like the idiot who ran onto a runway last week with a backpack and is frankly lucky to be alive), please feel free: let the most frustrated, downtrodden, resentful member of security staff lead them away, a gleam in their eye with a week’s supply of glee with which to rub their hands. But if it is clearly a joke, in Terminal 5 I think staff should be ordered to laugh or to critique the joke for originality, timing and cleverness. They, after all, will have heard most of them before. Followed by the sounds of tazers, screams and attack dogs.

I’m aware of the danger here. I’m aware that in between submitting this column and the paper going to print there could be a terrorist attack on an airport. It is important in these situations to remember that laughing does not mean you don’t care. In terrible circumstances, Christianity and comedy can have a similar message (if the style and approach of both is right, sensitive and well-timed): ‘The world is not meaningless; you still have power and choice over your reactions and control over your ultimate path; no matter what horrors confront you, you are still human; there is still hope, there is still reason for joy.’ Luckily there are no laws against preaching the Gospel in airports or on planes. Yet.

Pics taken from this site. Check it out.

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