I flew Southwest Airlines Austin – Las Vegas earlier in the month. It strikes me that this isn’t the only Southwest Airlines flight I’ll be taking in March. For someone that hadn’t set foot on a Southwest aircraft from 1994 through 2014, I guess that makes me a Southwest regular.
They are, after all, the largest carrier at my home airport. And they’ve re-timed their Washington National – Austin non-stop to leave after 5 pm so I can work most of a day and still make it.
I usually fly American Airlines and I’m usually upgraded. Flight attendants will bring me a drink (ok, admittedly not usuall predeparture), they won’t bring me the can. Flying up front I don’t want the can, it takes up space and it’s another thing that’s open that might spill. Besides domestically I usually just drink water. (I’ll pair a decent wine with what I’m eating on an international flight in a premium cabin, but mostly I just want to stay hydrated at altitude.)
I literally don’t remember the last time I was asked if I wanted the can. But after the first pass where I had water, a flight attendant on my Southwest flight came back around for a second drink service. When I asked for more water he said, “would you like the can, sir?”
In the movie Up in the Air the scene in which Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) is asked whether he’d like the can seems almost out of place. Why the reference at the beginning of the film to cancer?
In the book, which I read on a Washington Dulles – San Francisco flight back in the summer of 2001, Bingham has been having seizures. At the end of the book he’s heading to the Mayo Clinic expecting bad news. None of this is in the movie, but there is this reference to cancer — and Clooney’s character tells Anna Kendrick “we all die alone.”
Writer-director Jason Reitman has said the scene is a nod to those that had read the book, but also to travel and collecting miles as a disease, an obsession.
When the Southwest flight attendant asked if I wanted the can sir I thought of Clooney, of cancer, and that in the book he was going to donate his million Great West Airlines frequent flyer miles to childrens hospitals.
Then I was given the can — and because I almost never fly Southwest I had no idea — they have branded water cans. I’ve never seen this before, and it’s awesome.