Series Created by Chris Carrey
Narrated by Tim Flavin
- All eighteen first season episodes
Released by: A&E Home Video.
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Catch it on cable.
No one likes to fly. The ones that say they do, they’re lying. You’re basically putting yourself, your personal space, and your luggage in the control of other people and nobody likes losing control. So now we get to see the people we give up that control to in the new reality series, Airline. And we learn that they are people like you and me and some of the time, they’re barely in control themselves.
It’s more about observing people, but in a natural environment (well, as natural as an airport can get) and not in a fabulously appointed living space with a confessional and night vision camera. The cameras are on the employees of Southwest Airlines in the Los Angeles and Chicago airports. We get to meet the pilots, ticket agents, customer services representatives and other crew members that try to keep the airplanes running on time and the customers happy. Which is not easy, since most of the ones we see have either missed their flight, had one too many in the airport bar (I told you we would get to drinking), or some other complaint. Now you can understand how some people can get upset if your luggage is missing or if you’re bumped because your flight is overbooked. However, because the employees are so helpful in trying to resolve the problem, the flyers come out as rude, whiny bitches that curse and threaten to sue at every opportunity.
Now the show isn’t just about passengers behaving badly. For instance, we see how the massive blackout of 2003 affected areas not out of power. Because East Coast airports were knocked out, connecting flights were cancelled and hundreds were stranded. We see how the employees coordinated hotel rooms, bus travel, and confused passengers with practically no notice. The show also features some of the back-story on some of the employees (one is a former model, a pilot and co-pilot are engaged, people are stewarding as a second career) as well as some of the passengers (a couple flying to China to get their adopted daughter, a woman going to be on The Price Is Right, penguins flying to be at a charity event).
Still, like all reality television, “reality” is a misnomer. The editors went through five thousand hours of tape to get about nine hours to show onscreen. So you can imagine how many hours of boring routine, unfunny jokes, situations that ended badly, and other unentertaining segments were left on the cutting room floor. While Southwest Airlines does say it concentrates on customer service, the workers shown are so helpful and so even tempered, you really have to wonder how “real” all this is?
Airline is a cut above most reality television, but without any extras on the DVD and with cable’s propensity to rerun everything, I recommend you catch it on cable.