EDITORIAL: Flight of the Alligator

If you’re traveling this winter break and you haven’t bought your plane tickets already, be prepared to sacrifice most of your hard-earned work-study and table-waiting savings. Tickets are incredibly expensive this year, for many reasons. Terrorism is a blanket excuse for anyone to hike up prices or topple civil liberties. Those airlines keep threatening bankruptcy, and you wonder how a multibillion-dollar industry could just “lose” all that money when they already overcharge you for a 2-foot-wide seat and a meal that somewhat resembles plastic. “The economy is bad” is what everyone says when they can’t get a job or can’t afford a new car, but the airlines really need to suck it up and admit that 9/11 isn’t hurting their business much anymore. If anything, travel is booming now in a post-9/11 world and prices are increasing because of rising passenger confidence and safety. People aren’t fearful of becoming living missiles when they board a plane-the chances are just too rare. Thanks to new and improved safety measures, the only really dangerous things on airplanes, aside from the vacuum-powered toilets, are all those alligators on the loose.

Late last month, an American Airlines flight was carrying four alligators from Miami to Newark when one escaped from its containment. These gators, which belonged to passengers on the plane, were kept in the cargo hold inside burlap sacks inside of crates. When the plane landed, one of the gators was outside the crate but in its sack, snout still bound. Well, luckily, some cops were able to wrangle the critter with a lasso before it did anything shocking, like try to sit in First-Class. Some eyewitness reports place the alligator in Coach earlier in the flight, reclined and with a pair of headphones on, catching the end of the in-flight movie, “Finding Nemo.”

You must be asking several questions of yourself right now. Why would somebody bring an alligator to New Jersey? Does the alligator get an in-flight meal? Wouldn’t you consider an alligator slightly more dangerous than nail clippers or cosmetics scissors? Why can’t I bring my alligator on an airplane? Do alligators get their own bathrooms and if not, where does it all go? Does that explain why airplane food tastes funny?

The alligator may have just been tired and heading for one of those new SkyBeds that the “struggling” airlines now offer to “sleepy” customers. For an additional price, you can take a nap on those long-haul transatlantic flights. But where there’s a bed, there’s always more going on than just sleeping. Years from now you’ll meet people who’ll tell you how they were conceived on Lufthansa at about 30,000 feet with only mild turbulence.

Your best chances in plane tickets will come from STA (located in the UC first floor) or some Internet travel agency, like Travelocity.com or AAASouth.com. Prices will only go up each day closer to Christmas, and soon whole flights and days will be sold out. Better get to your agent soon, before the infamous alligator from Lake Osceola decides it’s time for a vacation and steals your seat.