The airlines are a laughing matter

OK, enough doom and gloom.

The airline industry is in crisis and catastrophe lies ahead. I get it. You get it. We all get it. And there isn't much we can do about it. Except laugh.

Indeed, the airlines have become the butt of a torrent of jokes, not all of which are suitable for publication in family-rated media.

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Among the airlines' recent consumer-unfriendly moves, the bag fees in particular have become grist for the humor mill, inspiring the following from none other than Jay Leno on the Tonight Show (thanks to the Dallas Morning News's Airline Biz Blog for posting the transcript):

If you've been to the airport at all the last couple of weeks, you know the airlines are now charging people to check your bag. One bag, you have to check it now, and they charge you $15 to check a bag, 15 bucks, and 30 bucks if you ever want to see that bag again.

US Airways not only charges you for your luggage, but it also charges you for non-alcoholic beverages, too. And listen to this—during an emergency, you need a credit card to make the oxygen mask to come down.

And yesterday—I love this—yesterday, a Southwest Airlines plane landed in Phoenix with one of its wheels on fire. The plane was on fire when it landed. Let me tell you something. If they're going to start billing us for every thing under the sun like checking a bag and soft drinks, okay, maybe we should get a discount for like when the plane's on fire. You get 10 bucks back because the plane is on fire.

In response to the story of the Pinnacle Airlines pilot (male) and flight attendant (female) discovered naked in the woods—true story, really—CBS's David Letterman and his team composed the "Top Ten Excuses of Naked Pinnacle Pilot":

10. "I was just helping her with her bags"

9. "You don't say 'no' to Barbara Walters"

8. "Well Harrisburg is the 'City of Love'"

7. "Come on -- Amtrak engineers run around naked in the woods all the time"

6. "Uh...a bear stole my pants?"

5. "I always get aroused after browsing through the Skymall catalog"

4. "So we can't fly drunk or have sex -- what is this, Russia?"

3. No number 3 -- writer still playing Grand Theft Auto 4 on XBox -- will try very hard to have jokes tomorrow

2. "Airline lost my clothes"

1."I thought it was a layover"

Of course, much of the airline parodying takes place outside the bounds of mainstream media. Here's a mock ticket receipt, showing the add-on fees, that's been making the rounds via email, as posted by Trebor Banstetter on the Star-Telegram "Sky Talk" blog:

U.S. Domestic Segment Tax - $17.50
September 11 Security Fee - $10.00
U.S. Passenger Facility Charge - $15.00
Aisle Seat - $5.00
Extra Bag Check - $25.00
First Bag Check - $15.00
Seat Belt - $5.00
Seat Belt Buckle - $5.00
Complimentary Airsick Bag - $1.23
Air - $75.00
Tray Table Usage - $2.75
Fee Fee - $15.00
Fee Fi Fo Fum - $15.00
Extra Fee - $20.00
Ticket Details Fee - $32.00
Arial Font Fee - $21.00
The Longer You Keep Reading This, the More Fees We Will Think of Fee - $50.00
Seriously, We Will Keep Adding Fees to this Ticket Fee - $10.00
Testing to See if You're Still Reading Fee - $15.00
Last Fee Fee - $20.00
One More Little Fee for Good Measure - $1.00

As with so much of the current airline humor, it's funny. Until you realize just how close it is to the truth.

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