Fly the unfriendly skies
"Airline" follows the Southwest Airlines crews, both on the ground and in the air, at several airports across America. Incredibly, they were able to get Southwest to cooperate, when the words "This is the last time I'm flying on Southwest" and "I'm going to sue" are thrown around liberally. Anyone with any sense in their head will quickly recognize these are the only recourse of frustrated people though, and not the end result of bad service. It's simply the reality of the complicated world of air travel. No one gets stressed the way people at airports do.
There are no continuing storylines, though several of the characters on the airline's side of things make repeated appearances, including Customer Service Manager Colleen, Customer Service Supervisor Michael and Customer Service Supervisor Susie. Their personalities come through over the course of the season, but the focus of the show is always the customers. Each episode has three concurrent storylines, often sharing a theme, like love stories, family or animal flight, and a narrator who helps tell the tale.
Though there are plenty of varied stories told on this series, one is heard more often than any other: drunk passengers. It's amazing how many people waiting to get on a plane get completely blitzed, a condition Southwest refuses to allow people to fly in. Perhaps it's a symptom of the airline's low fares, but the clientele has an unfortunate subset of what can only be termed as trash. One particular episode finds a woman who is held off a plane to her wedding, because she's drunk, only to display true class and say she'll go smoke a joint since she can't fly. It's hard to say who you feel worse for: the crew that has to deal with these people or the people who have to fly with them.
The series has plenty of drama going on, but the sense of humor is just as important. No where is that more obvious than in an episode about two pilots about to marry. Ironically, after watching people suffer from delays over and over again, their transportation is held up. The comedy prevents the series from getting too heavy, mirroring the reality of life and its ups and downs. Nothing reveals a person's darkest depths like hearing the word's "Your flight's been canceled," just as nothing makes them happier than "We found you a seat."
Note that the series' original theme song, "Leaving on a Jet Plane," couldn't be licensed for this release, which means the opening music is a generic, though appropriate piece of instrumental music, and the end titles are silent. There's also no fade to black where the commercials were, so these episodes fly by.
The audio is presented in Dolby 2.0, and the quality is exactly what one might expect from a "documentary" TV show. A center-speaker presentation all the way, the dialogue is captured cleanly, and the assorted airport noise around it doesn't interfere. It's a nice job all around, and is better looking and sounding than it ever did on TV.
The Bottom Line