The Naked Flight
Madeline Neenan, CSB 2009
You probably haven't heard of it, or if you have, you probably didn't believe that it's real. I'm a pretty skeptical guy myself. I don't believe everything I hear. If I had been around when Orson Welles read "The War of the Worlds", I would have stayed right there in New Jersey. But still, it's possible that aliens exist somewhere. I'm just saying, don't always rule everything out.
My point is that the naked flight exists too. I'm not joking. It's not like they randomly assign you: you have to ask for it. There's kind of a code. If I remember right, I asked the travel agent for the "new deal". When she responded "So you don't want coverage on this flight?", I knew I was in. I confirmed by saying "absolutely none."
The naked flight isn't just a flight for the sake of being naked. It's part of the regular routes, but sometimes they offer a naked flight. We all had our own final destinations and our own plans once we arrived. I was flying out of Chicago for Los Angeles, going to see some family I have out there. Nothing brought us together except the fact that we had all chosen the naked flight. Once we disembarked, we would go our separate ways, unlikely to meet again. There were some business people up in first class, the rest of us were jammed into coach. People still got frustrated with delays and the food was terrible - it was just a normal flight, except that we were naked.
It was pretty funny when I was in the terminal waiting, still fully clothed. I once heard someone suggest a naked terminal, even a naked airport, but that's just excessive. Who wants to carry their clothes all over the place like that? It only worked on the plane because they gave us boxes that we could stow in the overhead compartments. That meant my clothes might shift during flight, but that's a risk I was willing to take. In the terminal, everyone kept looking at each other but they did that thing where you look away and pretend you haven't been staring. No one said anything about the naked flight. None of us wanted to be the only one who actually believed that we were going on a naked flight, just in case it wasn't real.
Once we got on the plane, the flight attendants gave us each a box for our clothes and we took them off before we sat down. Some people left their shoes on, but I just thought, why? God, if you're going to be naked, take off the damn shoes.
When people were taking their seats, that was kind of funny too, because as they sat down, people would check to see if people were looking at them and still trying to pretend they weren't self-conscious. But I bet they were all afraid that the people waiting behind them were thinking "Look at that fat ass." Which might have been true. I mean, who hasn't had a few unkind thoughts about the less attractive among us? But it's like they say, people are much more worried about themselves than about criticizing other people. Most people are, anyway.
There was one woman who didn't realize she would be on the naked flight. She got on and the flight attendants gave her the box for her clothes. She looked around and started screaming: "You can't keep me on this flight! I'm not joining your cult or whatever this is! This is illegal and I will have you all arrested for indecent exposure!" She would have gone on and on, but one of the flight attendants told her that she was free to get off the flight and talk to the people at the terminal and get things straightened out. I guess if you don't want to be there you get all sorts of presents from the airline - a free flight and everything. It made me think I should have pretended that I had made a mistake getting on.
There was one woman, probably twenty years old, who looked very timid in the terminal. She got on and looked around and almost vomited. She whispered to one of the flight attendants "I don't think I can do this." The flight attendant was very polite and told her where to go to get a different flight. I was surprised that those two women were the only ones who chickened out. There were only a few empty seats on the flight. I guess everyone else knew what they were getting into.
It's possible that those women noticed that most of the people on the flight were male. I think there were a lot of men who thought they were going to be surrounded by beautiful naked women looking for dates, but things didn't quite work out that way. I'm not saying I would have minded sitting next to a beautiful naked woman, but I wasn't expecting my love life to take a dramatic upward turn or anything. I guess I wasn't really expecting anything. I don't care about flying either way, and I thought the naked flight would be interesting. Every once in a while I just want to try something different. This was different, all right.
Once everyone had boarded and it was time to move out from the gate, the flight attendants came back wearing just the regulation pumps and lanyards with nametags. I might as well admit, that was the best part. I wasn't so excited about the male flight attendant - I'm kind of traditional that way; I miss the days of stewardesses. But we aren't supposed to say that word these days, and I try to be respectful of people's occupational choices.
The guy in front of me asked a flight attendant if the pilot was naked too. He sounded kind of dumb asking that, but we were all wondering the same thing. The flight attendant just said "Yes he is" and asked the man to bring his seat into the full upright and locked position.
I made some brief small talk with the guy next to me. He was a little older than me and nice enough. I'm not much for talking on planes normally, so I didn't spend too much time getting his life story. I mostly just observed. People react in a lot of different ways to these situations.
There were some girls in their twenties who just couldn't stop giggling about the whole experience. I just thought, sit back and let it happen - is it really that big of a deal? But they wanted to let us all know how hilarious this whole thing was and how it really wasn't that scary and how sad they feel for people who aren't comfortable being naked. That got old real fast. The airline should give some kind of maturity test before they let people buy tickets. If they giggle when they ask for the flight, the travel agent should just say "I'm sorry, but I don't think you're ready for the naked flight." They were probably nice girls, but they were obnoxious.
There was this couple, too, a few rows ahead of me. They were characters, that's for sure. They wore their cowboy hats and boots through the whole flight. When they got on the man said, "So how y'all doing?" real loud. His wife looked around at everyone and said, "Well, don't y'all look nice today!" That kept them laughing for a while. They were definitely the people you don't want to sit next to on a plane, because they talk too much, but I blame that on their personalities, not on the naked flight. I guess there's one on every flight.
Another couple had tattoos everywhere - they might as well have been dressed for how much of their skin was showing. They didn't say much, but they didn't have to - their tattoos said it all. The man had Harley-Davidson across his back, a tiger down one arm, a dragon on the other, and the classic "Mom" written over a heart on his ankle. The woman had your regular tramp-stamp, a purple unicorn on her lower back. She had a snake around one of her biceps and barb-wire around the other. They only spoke to each other, and if I had been their seat-mate, I think I would have been relieved about that.
The guy across the aisle from me thought he was something else. He was tan and muscular and he certainly wasn't shy about sitting with his legs spread all over the place. Not that I was looking or anything, but how could you not notice that, you know? He probably thought we were all so impressed with his size. I personally felt bad for the guy next to him. I think he was hoping to end up next to Angelina Jolie or something. He was scrawny and pale; he looked like he played a lot of video games in his parents' basement. He stared out the window looking sad, probably because he felt inadequate, being about half the size of the muscular guy.
Midway into the flight, the muscular guy started flirting with the gigglers, and that was just too much for me. That's when I started talking to the man next to me. He was about fifty, married, headed to California to see his daughter. He was on the naked flight for the same reason I was: to see what it was all about.
"What does your wife think about this?" I asked.
"She doesn't mind - she's the one who got me into it. She did a naked flight a while back and thought it was a good experience."
"Are you going to tell your daughter?"
He said he was. I guess he thought she was old enough, since she was twenty-seven. If I had kids, I don't know if I would tell them about it. There's something about parental nudity that's just uncomfortable to think about. I don't think I would want to put my kids through that. I almost forgot the bathroom. God, that was awkward. I don't usually get too embarrassed about my body, but airplane bathrooms are weird already, standing and waiting there right in front of someone's seat. You may never have noticed that your face is right at butt height when you are sitting down on an airplane, but I can assure you that the young lady in the seat behind the bathroom noticed. She buried her face in that Sky Mall catalog like she thought she would find some bathrobes inside to hand out. I think she may have regretted the naked flight.
You could really tell who thought they were pretty good looking and who was less confident. If you aren't confident, you hold it for the whole time you're in the air, but if you think you're hot stuff, you have to pee about eighty times during the flight. My flight was only three hours, and I don't know how much this guy was drinking, but I must have seen the same pale pair of cheeks waiting in line for the bathroom four times.
The worst would have been if someone had brought a kid on the flight. I'm not against kids getting used to nudity, but that would have made me really uncomfortable. That kid would have some major need for therapy. Some things are just meant for adults.
I guess some people really got gratification out of this flight, but to be honest, at the end I was just as happy to put my clothes back on. I got a little chilly, even with the heat turned up, but that wasn't the only thing. I just felt like there were a lot of showoffs and I got sick of them thinking they're so great. What's so wonderful about a naked body? Obviously we all had them right there for everyone to see. I'm not saying do it or don't do it. It's probably a good experience to have at least once. I don't think I'll go back for seconds though.
So I don't know, maybe you still think I'm yanking your chain. But I did it, I was there. The naked flight exists, if you know how to find it.