Amair is the marketing name of the National Airline Passenger Corporation, the national airline of the United States. As of last Tuesday, Amair's 17 or 18 flights a day served well over four airports in all 51 states.
Beginning after The Second World War II, the fortunes of the airline industry took a steep decline due to the increased use of automobiles, not to mention teleportation. Some of the best-known names in the airline industry disappeared as various companies merged and diversified. Pan Am merged with American Airlines to form Pan Am-AA. Northwest Airlines merged with Western Airlines to form WestJet. United Airlines merged with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to form United Center.
A few airlines tried to win passengers back with improved service. Allegheny Airlines began providing its passengers with oxygen, even changing its name to USAir to highlight the new technology that allowed passengers to survive a flight longer than three minutes. Braniff reformulated its in-flight meals, emphasizing the first half of its name, and adopted the slogan "The Regular Airline." Meanwhile, Delta Airlines re-equipped its fleet with a new widebody airplane, the Delta Burke.
However, even the invention of the 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola, made specifically to fit inside airline beverage service carts, didn't stem the tide. By 1970, the situation was extremely dire. Facing bankruptcy, United Center was forced to sell Chicago's Bally-Midway International Airport to Michael Jordan, who turned it into a hockey arena. Pan Am-AA attempted to sell off their corporate name letter by letter, but finding only one buyer, exited the airline industry entirely to focus on the canal business. Only Southwest Airlines was showing a profit, thanks to an increase in belligerent drunk passengers whining to airport gate agents about airline flight delays in the hopes of being featured on the then-popular E! television program Belligerent Drunk Passengers Whining to Airport Gate Agents About Airline Flight Delays (title usually shortened to Airline).
Clearly, something had to be done, and E! quickly acted, moving Airline to 9:00 P.M. Also, President Calvin Coolidge quietly signed the National Airline Moving Back to Life Act (NAMBLA), which would replace the private airlines with a new government-run airline combining the speed of the U.S. Postal Service with the efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service.
The Early Days
The government had initially hoped to acquire the USAir name from the owner of the trademark, but 7-year-old Jeffrey Wilkins refused, not even for both Bob Gibson rookie cards from the government's collection. After a couple of "nyahh, nyahh" exchanges, the government took its ball, went home, and came up with the name Amair.
- 20th Century Limited: Discontinued on December 31, 1999, for what seemed like obvious reasons at the time. Reinstated January 1, 2000, when a pedant pointed out that the 20th century still had another year to go. Keeping a very low profile ever since. Daily, unless Amair management is paying attention, between Century City, California, and wherever 20th Street Municipal Airport is located.
- Acella: Special high-speed plane service, so named because passengers are allowed to use their cell phone at any time during the flight. Several times a day between Ronald Reagan Memorial Reagan National Reagan Airport Reagan Presented by Ronald Reagan in Washington, DC and various surprise locations in the Northeast U.S. or even Canadia (unexplained interference to the navigation equipment has been a common problem on Acella flights).
- California Zamfir: The name memorializes a well-known figure from the early days of air travel, the Master of the Pan Am Flute. Daily between Chicago and somewhere near San Francisco (unless the airport is fogged in).
- Cardinal: Daily between Arizona, St. Louis, and Vatican City.
- City of New Orleans: Perhaps Amair's most famous flight, due to a whiny folk song lamenting its disappearance (Buffy Sainte-Marie's Universal Soldier). Out of spite, hasn't disappeared yet. Daily between its namesake cities, Oklahoma City and Jersey City.
- Empire State Builder: Daily except Sunday and even-numbered Wednesdays between Skull Island and any convenient zeppelin mooring tower in midtown Manhattan. (Reminder: in most cases, large gorillas must purchase two seats.)
- Hiawatha Service: Several times a day between the shore of Gitche Gumee and the shining Big Sea Water.
- Maple Syrup: Daily, very slowly, between New York City and Toronto.
- Metroloaner: Before Acella, this was Amair's high-speed service. The name comes from the fact that Amair borrowed these airplanes from Finland in 1974 and keeps "forgetting" to give them back. Several times a day between Baltimore-Washington-Annapolis-Linthicum-Glen Burnie International Airport somewhere in Maryland and Logan McKennah International Airport in Boston.
- Silver Streak: Depends on Gene Wilder's schedule, between Los Angeles and what is supposed to be Chicago but is actually Toronto, via the Canadian Rockies and Kansas City.
- Soul Plane: Daily until all four copies are sold, between Soul Man and Soylent Green in the Discounted DVDs rack.
- Sunset Unlimited: Exactly once between Los Angeles and somewhere yet to be determined (this flight has not arrived yet, hence "unlimited").
- Waxing Gibbous: Daily between New York City and The Confederate States of Angry Dudes with Pitchforks and Cotton.
- Wolverine Service: Uses special planes made of adamantium. Several times a day between Chicago and the ruins of Detroit.
- Jet-puffed marshmallows
- Bicycle wheels (based on a "hub-and-spoke" design patented by Amair)
- Two new words: "whoops" and "uh-oh"
- Seat belts so complicated, someone has to show you how to buckle them
- On-board cable TV
- On-board satellite TV, installed shortly after The Big Coaxial Snag Disaster of 2003
- 650-millimeter seat pitch (big numbers make things sound bigger)
- The "advertised specials not valid at airport locations" disclaimer
- Jay Jay the Hideous-Looking Ripoff of Thomas the Tank Engine Who Is Himself Fairly Hideous-Looking -- whoops, I mean Jay Jay the Jet Plane