Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Airport” (S4, E12)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, Justin Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan and Jordan Duncan will watch an episode of TV’s greatest sitcom and provide notes and grades across a number of categories. The goal is to rewatch the entire series chronologically to see what truly worked, what still holds up today, what feels just a bit dated and yada, yada, yada it will be a great time. So settle into your couch with the cushions flipped over, grab a Snapple and enjoy the ride!

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Best Character

Justin: I thought all four had some highs and lows here, but I will go with Elaine. She did a great job displaying a frustration and anger that we are all very familiar with. I like that it was her stuck in coach whole Jerry screwed her over and went first class, as other shows would have flipped the gender roles there. She really descended into madness quite well, right down to her snapping about first class before finally just screaming at the loser next to her. You go get your cookie, Laney.

Aaron: Maybe it’s the fact that I’m speeding down the road cramped in the front of a car somewhere between Albany and Montreal but I’m gonna have to sympathize with Elaine. She’s clearly striving for a world without classes but she’s certainly having an incredibly hard time smashing down those barriers. Of all the inner monologues that we see in the show, Elaine’s is certainly the capital (like Albany!) and is always a welcome addition to the show. Her suffering is as beautiful as my motion sickness, and luckily I’m sitting next to a dapper gentleman rather than a human slug who dumps his bags on you. By the time Elaine falls over the fat slob and tisks in some dude’s snobby face we’ve fallen in love with her all over again. She doesn’t sneak her way into first class performance. She delivers. Also I think we missed a toll booth.

Andrew: I think Elaine was the best, mainly because her predicament was the only one I could empathize with. Few things in life suck more than being condescended to by flight attendants, and having to sit next to a jerk just makes matters worse. I thought she did a good job of playing the steadily increasing misery of the situation.

Jordan: Jerry started off really strong, but by the end Elaine had taken control of this one. I love when Elaine is hungry, it may be the best character quirk of anyone in the series. She does such a great job showing her slow breakdown from frustration after frustration before finally snapping on the chump sitting next to her. Good stuff.

Best Storyline

Justin: I liked that the premise was the torture of flying, because all of the ingrained minutia is perfect for this show. In fact, they really didn’t even scratch the surface of all the potential issues and failures that come with a trip through the skies.

Aaron: The war of the classes is perfectly punctuated with clever cuts. Elaine is perfectly cast as the sufferer and Jerry is perfectly cast as insufferable.

Andrew: The contrasting of Elaine and Jerry’s flight experiences was my favorite storyline. I generally enjoy that style of sequencing, bouncing back and forth between Elaine’s suffering and Jerry’s good fortune, and I thought all the actors involved played their parts well.

Jordan: First class vs. coach, definitely. The constant cuts to show how awful it is for Elaine vs. Jerry having the time of his life was done really well. I also liked Elaine sneaking in and getting busted, only to waken Jerry from a peaceful sleep, upset he has to deal with commotion from the commoners.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should Jerry have offered Elaine the first class seat? It probably would have been the gentlemanly thing to do, but I am sure he really weighed the options. As long as he was confident that Elaine would eventually forgive him, the decision was an easy one. Bye-bye cheap kosher meal with a schmuck in a goofy hat, hello chocolate fudge sundae with a model!

Aaron: Who the fuck do you think you are parading around the highway with your high beams blaring into oncoming traffic? If I wasn’t blind before I’m certainly now! And let’s not worry about the semantics of a blind man driving a car, if we can put a man on the moon we can make cars that can be controlled by the God damned blind! Turn the beams down! Oh my God writing this is making me sick…

Andrew: Should our goal as a society be the eradication of the class system? We can see how quickly that first-class divider turns two friends against each other, transforming Jerry into a callous fat cat and Elaine into a desperate criminal. But if we remove the luxuries of the upper class, do we also remove man’s motivation to achieve through his own rational self-interest? For more information, please purchase my pamphlet, “Poorly Thought-Out Socioeconomic Theory”, through the Amazon link to the right.

Jordan: Should they have let George off the plane after the criminal (I assume this happened) sodomized him in the bathroom as retribution for not giving up the issue of Time? I say no, why make everyone else suffer a flight delay just for that.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Jerry and Tia really hit it off here right off the bat and I will give Jerry credit for working the charm so strongly that he could land a model in just a few hours. Relationship Grade: Stud/10

Aaron: If only Jerry and the woman in first class (I have no internet in the car I can’t look it up) had (it’s just that roaming charges from Canada are astronomical. I was once charged 500 bucks for looking at a map on my phone a couple of times in Philadelphia. It’s insane and I’m not going to pay it.) half as much chemistry as me and my buddy Ivan who’s driving the car then they’d be in for a lifetime of happiness. I’m very happy. Relationship Grade:7/10

Andrew: Jerry’s model friend is my favorite of his romantic interests so far. But the early part of a relationship always looks better than it is, and frankly, he had more chemistry with Elaine in the car than with Tia. Relationship Grade: 5/10

Jordan: Tia was perfect for this episode, but she is way out of Jerry’s league. Still, it’s the perks of flying first class. You get hot fudge sundaes with the fudge at the bottom to give you the control, and supermodels cozy up to you as you nap together. Relationship Grade: 6/10

What Worked

Justin: Elaine really played with fire by pissing off the SkyCap dude, funny stuff though; Jerry’s absurd running through the airport always makes me laugh and then him taking the first class seat was a great dick move; I like to stop at the duty free shop!; The alternating shots between the very different experiences of Jerry and Elaine were great; Kramer running like a weirdo makes me laugh as well; Elaine trying to will the guy to wake up is a place we have all been; Kramer’s ticket purchasing plot falling apart and screwing George, as well as Kramer’s insipid attempt once he gets his chance at Grossbard was one giant fail; Kramer coming out the baggage chute is always good for a laugh, as is George stuck in the plane bathroom.

Aaron: Obviously all the on-plane stuff. George was wonderfully obnoxious with his perfect pick up and all his interactions with the criminal. What a prick. A great big prick. The comic duo of George and Kramer popped really well and I hope we get to see a lot more of them working together. I’m also a huge sucker for creator cameos so Larry Charles destroying the bathroom and Larry David lamenting his lack of Kosher meal are highlights for me. In typical Seinfeld fashion everyone any of the main characters have to deal with are the most intolerant pieces of shit on earth. Elaine fell, the man tisks. The man refuses to pack his bags and will not move. The shuttle driver is simply joyous that he leaves them behind. They’re all perfect. Last but not least I love that not a single one of them knows how to run like a proper human being.

Andrew: I liked the use of running jokes shared between storylines; Elaine’s road-trip scatting and the “duty-free shop” song, for example, or both Elaine and George being told to run like a man. The “cheap hooker” line in the car seemed to get genuine laughs from both Jerry and Elaine, which is always nice. George’s obsession with the perfect pick-up is perfect for the character, and I enjoyed Elaine angrily “tsk”-ing the guy who “tsk”-ed at her. Kramer’s escape down the runway and onto the baggage carousel was a nice capper to the episode. “Grossbard” is an exceptional made-up name.

Jordan: While I gave Elaine the best character spot, all four were terrific. I loved Kramer and George working together in this episode and everything that unfolded as a result. The finale with Kramer shooting out of the luggage return and George screaming his name from the plane was a nice touch. As stated earlier, the cutting to and from first class and coach was terrific, and having things just get worse for Elaine and better for Jerry was nice to watch. George’s belief that the duty free shop being a huge scam is typical George, as is his perfect plan to arrive at just the right time. Jerry is at his best when he’s an unknowing douche, and he just got better as the show went on here.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: While the scene was funny, it is crazy unbelievable that this prisoner would be shackled and walking around the airport gift shops with two guards; The flight attendant that blocks Elaine is a real dick; I hate using this reasoning here for most episodes, but a lot of what happened here is really dated and could or would not have happened today; Also, why is the prisoner just free in the bathroom; The poor security continues when Kramer escapes the officer and sprints down a runway.

Aaron: Nothing particularly egregious here. I could go on and on about how Jerry’s driving acting is deplorable but frankly I’m a little more concerned about the guy driving in the centre of the highway.

Andrew: Why doesn’t Jerry carry Elaine’s bags when they are running for their flight? What a jerk. I thought a lot of the jokes were mediocre, like the one about fashion ads focusing on the model rather than the product.

Jordan: George is a huge cheapskate and every penny matters to him, so I find it hard to believe he’d be so against Kramer trying to get his money from Grossbard. They’d already missed the perfect pick up, so why not go for it and ask Kramer to split it with you? The prisoner at the end was a nice touch – but it’s VERY unbelievable.

Key Character Debuts

– Tia Van Camp

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– Jerry continues to have problems with rental cars

– “All right, fine. I don’t care. If the plane crashes, everybody in first class is going to die, anyway.” – Elaine “Yeah, I’m sure you’ll live.” – Jerry

– “If anything, we’ll probably get there early. I’ll have a chance to go to the Duty Free shop.” – Kramer “The Duty Free Shop? Duty Free is the biggest sucker deal in retail. Do you know how much duty is?” – George “Duty.” – Kramer “Yeah, “duty”. Do you know how much duty is?” – George “No, I dunno how much duty is.” – Kramer “Duty is *nothing*. It’s like sales tax…” – George “I still like to stop at the duty free shop.” – Kramer “I like to stop at the duty free shop. I like to stop at the duty free shop!” – George & Kramer

– “Wow! Coming out of the shower… It’s a good thing they gave you that washcloth to cover yourself up…” – Jerry

– Plotting out a traffic route again drives an episode around the airport

– “Why, It’s a perfect fit. You must be Cinderella.” – Jerry

– “Let’s go. Listen to the bell, Grossbard — it tolls for thee.” – Kramer

– “Excuse me? Excuse me, but I didn’t get a meal.” – Elaine “Are you sure?” – Attendant “Yes, I’m sure! I would know if a tray of food had been served to me.” – Elaine “Would you?” – Attendant

– “Oh, man. You know what… they got the fudge on the bottom– y’see? That enables you to control your fudge distribution as you’re eatin’ your ice cream.” – Jerry “I’ve never met a man who knew so much about nothing.” – Tia

– “Ok, fine. I’ll go back… You know, our goal should be a society without classes*! Do you realise that the people up here are getting cookies!” Elaine

– “Oh, you see, that’s terrible. The problem is, that curtain is no security– there really should be a locking door.” – Jerry

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Larry David provides the voice of the kosher meal ordering passenger

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: There was some funny scenes and lines here but this was the eventual letdown that you knew was coming after an all-time classic. There were a lot more plot holes than usual and it hurt things for me, especially the stuff with the security guards and Kramer running around the jetway. I like whacky Kramer, but that felt like even a bit much for him. Elaine was really good during her slow meltdown and I enjoyed smug Jerry as well, but there was a lot of laughs left on the table in this one. The Kramer/Grossbard stuff felt rushed and fell flat as well. George did get hosed again, so there is that. A rare semi-miss in a fantastic episode. Final Grade: 5/10

Aaron: This one is a lot of fun, but nowhere near being a classic. Upper middle of the road, but not annoying like that guy we just passed. God I just want to be home. Also George was raped on the plane right? Final Grade: 6/10

Andrew: This is one of the episodes I’ve seen the least, only catching it in snippets in syndication, and I think there’s a good reason it’s not in heaver rotation: it’s not that good. Any episode would suffer in comparison to the “The Contest”, but watching the two in order, it’s hard not to notice a clear gap in quality between them. This is the “airline food” joke of episodes; not bad in and of itself, but it seems lame and unoriginal next to true genius. Final Grade: 5/10

Jordan: This one suffers not because it’s not funny, but because it’s not memorable. After a string of great episodes, this one is just good. Having seen a good amount of Seinfeld’s stand up, I feel like this was his dream episode. An entire 30 minutes dedicated to airline humor. And while it got chuckles and was easy, it’s not something you’ve GOT to see. Final Grade: 5/10

Author: JT Rozzero

JT Rozzero is a cohost of the Place to Be podcast and original member of the legendary Moliseum Video. He enjoys all sports. The only thing he hates more than traffic and customer service is people. He is a proud Svenjolly and has had a sinus infection since October 2013. Send Justin an email