Unitedhour

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According to the Dos Equis Guy, “Happy Hour is the hour after everyone from happy hour has left.”

Ok, douche bag. What if happy hour happens while you’re 30,000 feet in the sky on an airplane? Airplane happy hour? That’s right. Did you know United Airlines has a happy hour? Neither did I. Until I was on a flight last week. And after this flight, I think I’m rekindling my Stockholm Syndrome with United Airlines.

Head filled with snot, throat raw, sinuses squeezing my head like I’m stuck in a BJ Penn rear naked choke, I awoke at 4:45 Wednesday morning to fly to Houston for a team meeting. Arrived at roughly 10:00, got the rental car (a SICK minivan, ladies – turned on yet?), and drove to our corporate office for meetings from 12-6. I skipped out on the group dinner and retreated to my hotel room where NyQuil played me off into a delightful 10+ hour slumber.

The next day it was pretty much goal setting bukkake from 9-6 in a session capped off by our Senior VP who looked out at the weary group as if he were surveying a group of unwitting amputee porn viewers. Everyone was wiped. I escaped to the airport in the Town & Country Pimpvan to enjoy a marginal Caesar salad topped with those little cubes of turkey from an elementary school lunchroom before boarding what was sure to be a Greyhound bus adorned with bottle rockets for the trip back into a Denver snowstorm. I know I’ve said this before, but business travel is just ever so glamorous.

But what’s this? Sam Adams Seasonal at the shitty airport food stand? Ok. Exit row? Alright. Middle seat? Goddammit. Between two professional travelers who don’t annex any of my space? Booya. Stray free beverage coupon in the wallet that expires the next day? Hell yes. Combine these factors with an iPod full of awesome podcasts, I might survive this shit in tact yet, despite arriving at 11 at night.

Halfway through The Nerdist featuring Jon Lovitz, I hand the flight attendant my drink coupon, and he proceeds to put TWO Miller Lites on my tray. Eh? I have no idea what to make of this, but the guy in the window seat says, “Hey, there you go. Cheers!” Good enough for me. I then hear the flight attendant tell the confused guy behind me that “It’s happy hour. 2-for-1. Enjoy!”

I then noticed I had been watching the SNL Sports Spectacular and it occurred to me the screen hadn’t turned off despite us being 45 minutes into this flight. 2-for-1 drinks and free TV? And holy shit, this is an actual Airbus… (Quick word of explanation: Of all the flights you can ever be on, the Thursday night from Houston to Denver, for a couple of very specific reasons, is probably the worst one ever. It’s overbooked, everyone has Premier status, and, inexplicably, it’s an old, small ass plane for what is likely the most in-demand flight of the week. It’s fucking dreadful.)

As I double fisted on an airplane for the 2nd time ever (the only previous time was on Allegiant on the way to my bachelor party), I had rekindled a bit of my love for United. Sure, it’s a shitty, profit-mongering, unwieldy beast of an airline, but dammit, it’s MY shitty, profit-mongering, unwieldy beast of an airline. And true, the tickets I buy largely aren’t on my own nickel, but I’ve poured a lot of sweat equity into 7 am flights, middle seats, tiny regional rock polisher turbulence commutes, and fuck else to earn some of the perks of an overpriced relic of an airline.

Kristin and I flew Frontier to Cabo, and anyone still clinging to that corpse will not enjoy the way the new owners will try to bleed your wallet via death of a thousand cuts or the way they’re cramming every inch of that metal tube with seats until it feels like you’re traveling to New Delhi via rail.

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Business travel is not easy, and being a professional business traveler has its challenges, but sonofabitch if you don’t appreciate a small touch like “Happy Hour.” Well played, United. Maybe I’ll be renewing my Premier status again this year.

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