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Need a Laugh? Take a Trip on a U.S. Airplane

It's fair to say that travelers on any given airplane flight in the United States are likely to encounter one or more of these situations:

·The parking lot is full.

·Ticket lines are long, and security lines longer.

·You are selected for special x-ray and hand-wand security screening.

·The screener finds fingernail clippers in your bag and seizes them.

·The flight is oversold.

·And it is delayed more than hour.

·The plane finally rolls away from the gate, only to sit on the tarmac, without air conditioning, due to a weather or mechanical problem.

·The only food on the flight is a tiny bag of peanuts.

·Your assigned seat is next to a screaming baby with an ear infection.

·You arrive in Dallas, but your luggage went to Denver.

Is it any wonder, then, that some U.S. airlines are trying to salve passengers' frustrations by injecting a little humor into the flying experience? On Southwest Airlines, for instance, even the pilots crack jokes. USA Today newspaper quotes one as announcing that the airline employs the best flight attendants in the business. But, unfortunately, they're not on board today.

Independence Air has even hired people it calls Fly-I-Guys -- airport comedians who lighten the mood with gestures like awarding a free ticket to the passenger with the ugliest carry-on bag.

Of course, jokes about security and safety are off-limits. And since the secret to comedy is timing, airlines know not to clown around on overnight and early-morning flights, when people are not in the mood.

Otherwise, even the worst parts of airline travel -- the crowds, delays, grouchy service, cramped seats and lousy food -- are fair game for the stand-up comedians of the skies.