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Jewish World Review /Dec. 29, 1998 / 10 Teves, 5759

Roger Simon

Roger Simon Mad as He--!

WASHINGTON -- I have flown to some interesting places this year. They have included: Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa, Senegal, Russia, Germany, England, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, China, Japan, South Korea, Guam, Israel and the Gaza Strip.

But on Dec. 30, I will take a flight that may be far more beneficial than any I have taken all year.

I will fly from BWI airport outside Baltimore, Md., to Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C., a flight of some 45 miles.

This is not a convenient flight for me. BWI is a long drive from where I live.

Nor do I want to go to Dulles Airport. There is nothing at Dulles except Dulles.

And, in fact, I will have to catch rides from friends to get to BWI and to get home from Dulles.

Why am I doing this?

I think some of you already know. I think some of you have been making flights like these for years and have been too embarrassed to admit it.

But I will admit it: I must fly 21 miles on United Airlines before midnight, Dec. 31, or I will not get Premier status in its frequent flyer program next year.

You have to fly 25,000 miles in one year to get Premier status. So far this year, I have flown 24,979 miles. (Almost all the neat places I flew this year were on White House charter flights, which did not earn me any miles.)

If I had Premier status now, United would cut me some slack and let me keep it for another year because I came close. But I don't have Premier status now. I used to have it years ago, but I lost it.

This year is my best chance to get it back.

So the entirely useless flight from BWI to Dulles is the cheapest United flight I could find -- it costs $54 -- that will put me over 25,000 miles.

Why am I going to such trouble to reach Premier status? Because of the three advantages Premier status offers to you:

1. You get to beat up anyone on the flight as long as they are sitting in coach and are smaller than you.
2. You are served food that has not been previously digested.
3. During good weather, you get to fly the plane.
OK, so I am lying about those.

What Premier members really get is to board the plane first, seats up front in coach and a 25 percent bonus on every mile flown.

There may be other benefits like free paper luggage tags or extra honey roasted peanuts, but I don't care about them.

The only benefit I really care about, in fact, is boarding the plane first.

(Not that United always lets ordinary Premier members board first. Sometimes, United reserves that for special Premier members who have "Executive" status or "100,000 Mile status," all of whom, in my opinion, should be hung from lampposts.)

But why do I want to get on board the plane first? A number of reasons:

I do not want to stand in line behind people who let a huge gap open up ahead of them because they are digging through the magazine bin or jabbering to their companions.

I do not want to wait behind people who have packed their rolling suitcases so full that they cannot lift these bulging monsters and so they just stand in the aisle looking helpless.

But most of all, I want to board the plane first because I want the overhead bin space.

For years, airlines trained us to not check our baggage. They did this by making us wait hours for our bags, ripping our bags apart and losing our bags.

Eventually, this behavior modification worked, and most of us stopped checking our bags. And the carry-on, rolling-suitcase industry was born.

But did airlines increase their overhead bin space as a result?

They did not. Instead, they began stuffing their overhead bins with oxygen canisters, first aid kits, pillows, blankets and -- my own personal favorite -- crew luggage!

Which means the first people on board the plane have the best shot at bin space.

Being first in the bin is, I admit, sometimes fraught with peril. If you put your stuff in the overhead bin first, the people who come after you -- especially those who arrive two minutes before takeoff and wonder why the bins are full -- get to squash your stuff under their stuff.

Which is why you have to throw your stuff in the bin first, slam the bin shut and then say to anyone who reaches up to open it: "Please don't let my bowling ball hit you on the head. It's brand-new."

And that is exactly what I will be saying next year as I sit in my up-front Premier seat.

Or else I'll be flying the plane.


12/18/98: Busy, busy Bubba
12/08/98: "Doing the people's business"
12/04/98: Censure-plus
11/24/98: Bubba's brilliance
11/24/98: See Bubba run; Run, Bubba, run
11/20/98: Lost in Japan
11/17/98: Saddam will strike because we did not
11/12/98: Too bad we can't just blow Saddam away
11/10/98: Will the Republicans ever learn?
11/05/98: Monica? Monica who?
11/03/98: Telling the truth about journalists
10/30/98: The vanishing president
10/27/98:Bubba's last hurrah?
10/23/98: Podesta is used to cleaning toilets
10/15/98: Glenn will once again be an American original
9/24/98: The greatest political actor of our time
9/17/98: Bubba's 'weasel words' --only a partial list (There's only 24 hours in a day)
9/17/98: Hah, I told ya so!
9/08/98: Orthodox Jew Lieberman's moral outrage: Why religion matters in politics
9/04/98: Bubbasky
8/27/98: Cigars?
8/25/98: Why it's all-Lewinsky-all-day-all-night
8/21/98: From magnifying glass to microscope
8/19/98: Let's be blunt: Bubba really needs a shrink --- and fast!
8/13/98: At home, with real, live FOBs
8/11/98: Bubba's new secret weapon: the Marine Band
8/07/98: Has the presidency been reduced to a 'Leno' joke?
8/05/98: Tell the truth?
7/30/98: All ya need is luv...and to deny, deny, deny
7/28/98: 'Man-of-da-people,' huh?
7/23/98: Can frequent-flyer miles alone earn Bubba a Nobel Prize?
7/21/98: San Francisco: not only 'gay,' but happy
7/17/98: Why Bubba claims Y2K is US' biggest problem
7/14/98: Close Amtrak --- PLEASE!
7/9/98: Flag burning is for nuts!
7/7/98: Forget about his legal defense fund, buy Bubba shirts!
7/1/98: Wall-nuts
6/26/98: Perks and the press
6/23/98: There's a good reason Bubba wants gun-control...
6/19/98: Why Clinton can get away with going to Tiananmen Square
6/16/98: Maybe Big Brother ain't so bad after all
6/11/98: He claimed responsibility for Rwanda, so why isn't Bubba stopping Serbian genocide?
6/9/98: The Internet president?
6/4/98: You can call me ‘slick;' and you can call me ‘sick;' but never call me ‘Dick' .... as in Nixon, that is
6/2/98: Being a 'talkin'-head' is hard work
5/29/98 Pay the pol, pick the policy
5/27/98 A 'loo' in London
5/21/98Buba is back from Europe ... but what did he accomplish?
5/18/98Roses for Buba
5/12/98: Just who is "Mr. Republican" these days?"
5/7/98:"Why Clinton keeeps "going and going and going""
5/1/98:"Bubba v. Tabacka"
4/29/98:"You may ask, but should they tell?"
4/24/98:"McCurry and the kids from the ‘hood "
4/23/98: "NOW" should change its name to "THEN"
4/20/98: Freedom to be a jerk?
4/14/98: Bill is Hef's kinda guy
4/7/98: South African memories --- and a paradise not yet found
3/24/98: Bill's 12-day safari
3/20/98: Peace for Ireland?
3/18/98: Flat tire? Spare me
3/13/98: Latrell Sprewell's genius
3/10/98: On truth and reality
3/5/98: No, I'm not harrassing Hillary
3/3/98: The Unforgettable Henny Youngman
2/26/98: Grow up, boys!
2/24/98: Go get 'em, Bill!
2/19/98: My 15 minutes
2/17/98: The manic-depressive presidency
2/12/98: Drip, Drip, Drip
2/10/98: Clinton tunes out the networks
2/5/98: The flight of the Beast: America's love-hate relationship with scandal
2/3/98: Speaking Clintonese
1/29/98: What the president has going for him
1/27/98: Judgment call: how Americans view President Clinton
1/22/98: Bimbo eruptions past and present
1/20/98: Feeding the beast: Paula Jones gets the full O.J.
1/15/98: Let's get it over with: it's time to deal with Saddam, already
1/13/98: Sonny Bono is dead, let the good times roll
1/8/98: Carribbean Cheesecake: First couple has cake, eats cake
1/6/98: PO'ed: a suspected druggie jumps through the employment hoops
1/1/98: Cures for that holiday hangover
12/30/97: Buy stuff now
12/25/97: Peace to all squirrelkind
12/23/97: Home for the Holidays: Where John Hinckley, never convicted, will not be
12/18/97: Bill's B-list Bacchanalia: Press and politicos get cozy, to a point
12/16/97: All dressed up... (White House flack Mike McCurry speculates on his next career)

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.