Whenever I land there, I remember the fuss people made over the place in the nineties when it was being built. It was having cost overruns like a fleet of stealth bombers, and I mean a fleet of stealth bombers being built in Nigeria. The baggage system chewed up luggage like a T Rex with an appetite for Samsonite. If you read the accounts of it in the press of the day, you figured the place would sooner or later be written off and abandoned to coyotes and tumbleweeds and the people of Denver would just have to drive to Albuquerque or Salt Lake City if they wanted to go to an airport.
That didn't happen, of course. Today the place operates entirely efficiently. Not that it is perfect. Its existence spawned the creation of Frontier Airlines, which brought me there. It was my first time aboard Frontier, a low-cost carrier. In fact, it is more than merely that; in the continuing effort to make flying the American skies as nasty and uncomfortable as possible, Frontier is the industry leader. Frontier's abundant economies were made clear from the moment of the safety announcement that all veteran air travelers try to sleep through. “There are no life vests on this aircraft,” the flight attendant said.
That got my attention. “In the event of a water landing, your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device.” That was fine with me. It was always what I planned to do anyway, since it seemed that it would be easier to do in a state of naked terror than figuring out how to put the life vest on. Besides, apart from a little spurt out over the Pacific when you take off, there are few opportunities for water landings between San Diego and Denver.
“Child life jackets are available for children in the event of a water landing," the flight attendant continued. "More information regarding child life jackets is available on the safety card.” Ordinarily, I would rather look at a book of textile swatches or even naked pictures of Chris Christie than the safety card but this announcement was so unusual it made me look. On Frontier Airlines, the child life jackets are boxed up at the rear of the plane, where you are expected to grab one if you feel you need it. So once you have landed on the water, amid the mad rush of people quite understandably concerned with getting off the aircraft before it comes to rest on the bottom, you are expected to nip back there with no more than a polite “Pardon me—need to get one of those child life jacket things before the plane sinks. Have a nice day.”
Frontier charges for everything that it might occur to you to want on the flight. They don't need free coffee and sodas and expect you not to need them, either. There is a TV screen the size of a pack of cigarettes on the seat in front of you. You can pay seven dollars to watch tiny TV or just stare out the window. The flight attendants watch you moodily, like perimeter guards at an honor camp. Towards the end of the flight, they got busy hustling a credit card that once you charged something on it, would give you two free Frontier flights anywhere in the country. Some people signed up, but I suspect those people would sign up for a free weekend in jail, too.
So I expect that Obamacare will eventually work, just like the Denver airport eventually worked, thanks to frantic last-minute restructuring, but there will be unexpected consequences. The Frontier Airlines of the healthcare industry may come to pass.
So when you have to get your medical tests done at The Colostomy Depot, or MRI's R Us, don't say I didn't warn you.