With the oppressive, vice-like grip of the holiday season firmly around our wallets, as well as other vital parts of our anatomy, I figured it was only a matter of time before some fairly ludicrous stories involving air travel came to light. Not that it isn't already fairly ludicrous that you have to do everything short of turning your head and coughing before boarding (give them time), but you know you were braced for some horror story involving delays boarding on residency on the runways or the usual bakers' dozen each year where some poor unfortunate's "personal massager" takes on a mind of its own, forcing some cool, if ultimately embarrassing bomb squad action. I'd like to think this story falls somewhere in the grey area.
Alaska Airlines, along with Horizon Air, have a new discount program for certain flights during the holiday season, but under the condition the ticket buyer visits a special page on the airline's website, geared for the homosexual traveler. Not a giant deal in my way of thinking, given discounts regularly given to elderly customers, children, or club members for a variety of services, not limited to or including air travel. Not so fast. Of course, family values had to pitch a fit somewhere, after all, the homosexual is involved, so naturally, some "values" group is in hot pursuit, no pun intended.
Bryan Fischer, with the Idaho Values Alliance, is steamed under his probably starched collar over the discount program, calling it discriminating against heterosexuals. Yeah, I hear ya, pal. Us straight people don't get any breaks. Fischer went on to mention preferences given to gays over married couples and concessions such as allowing male passengers to dress cross-gender on flights. Calling up the somewhat meaningless statistic that more families buy tickets than individuals or traveling pairs, Fischer goes on to say that "it just doesn't seem like it's smart business for them to stick their thumb in the eye of the main passengers." That does not come down to pleasing demographics, it comes down to misguided belief on the part of Mr. Fischer. If the airlines had one tiny iota of business sense in their possession, then the industry would not have benefited from previous government bailouts. They are in the business to sell tickets, and if that entails discounts here and there, then that's what we like to call free enterprise.
As Fischer delved deep (again, no pun intended) into the apparently illicit world of gay air travel, he spoke with a reservation clerk, who was unaware of the discount program, but did say the discount was available through the specified page on the website. Wait, huh? How can you be unaware of something's existence, but tell you exactly where to find it? This clerk would have had, or indeed could still have, a bright future in politics. Shame the Bush White House didn't find this guy earlier.
Fischer's problem, as it appears, is not so much having to say you are gay, lesbian, or otherwise to nab ten percent off your airfare, but that you pretty much have to be gay, otherwise you would not logically find this page on your own. Can't say that isn't at least a valid point, but then again, a bargain is a bargain, and there will be those who will find and take advantage of a bargain, by hook, crook, or sexual preference and Internet savvy.
For all of Fischer's indignation at someone, somewhere, getting a better price on air travel then he is able (or willing) to get, his argument leads me to wonder if, at any time, Fischer ever parked in the handicapped space, you know, "just to run in here real quick." You need nerves of steel, or at least a strong stomach and the patience of saints long ago departed to handle air travel in America in 2007. If a male passenger wants to undertake this adventure in a dress, then not only does he deserve a little credit, but maybe a hug, as well. If American soldiers escorting the body of a fallen fellow soldier home can be forced to strip down to t-shirts and boxers (no word if the TSA made the corpse strip), , then the circus of the absurd surely has a little room left for a couple of cross-dressers. If Fischer wants to harness his indignation, then he should try to find out how many heterosexuals have went alternative lifestyle in order to save a couple of bucks.
Maybe someday, although probably not soon, Fischer will learn that, holiday season, sexual preference, or whatever else is thrown into the mix, the only real value that will prevail in the end is the value that helps out the wallet.