I just finished reading a great book that I found in a bookstore, ironically, while on vacation a couple of weeks ago. Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles is centered around a situation that is all too familiar and commonplace to anyone who travels by air these days: a canceled flight.
On his way to the wedding of his estranged daughter, Bennie Ford’s flight is canceled and any alternative departure, should there be one, is delayed indefinitely. What starts out as a routine flight from New York to Los Angeles becomes a weather delay (eight hours and counting as the novel begins) at O’Hare International Airport and the subsequent canceled flight, by way of Peoria. Forced to spend countless hours with a steadily growing population of angry passengers due to the domino effect of numerous cancelled flights while eating diminishing supplies of heartburn inducing airport cuisine, scheming to get the best “O’Chairs” to nap in, and enduring threats from overzealous security guards and “gate police”, Bennie is mighty cranky, to put it mildly.
Coming to the realization that he just may miss his daughter’s wedding altogether, he decides to write a letter of complaint to the airline and to demand a refund. The letter becomes his outlet for frustration, and not just about his current situation. It’s also a lament about his life, both past and present. He writes about missed opportunities, personal disappointments, failed relationships and facing his personal fears. His biggest fear may also be his biggest failed relationship: that with his daughter whom he barely knows. How, and whether or not he will build a relationship with her at all is almost more pain than he can bear.
I love this book, and it manages to touch on just about every emotion in a way that takes you by surprise. It’s sad at times and hilarious at others; a little dark humor, a little sarcasm, and a funny satirical look at the airlines. If you’ve ever been stuck in an airport in similar circumstances for that long, (I have; a few of those delays were at O’Hare as a matter of fact.) then you’ll recognize every one of those people in the book.
As I mentioned, I bought this book while I was traveling, and I faced some delays during that trip as well. It was a fun and timely book to read while I waited. For the record, I wasn’t flying on American Airlines. My delay was on a train, so……………………….