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Fri, Apr 01, 2011

Airline CEOs To Participate In New Reality Show

Who Is Next To Be Voted Off The Airliner?

ANN April 1st Special Edition: A new TV reality show set to debut this fall will feature the CEOs of airlines flying like regular passengers ... in coach in a middle seat where ever possible.

"The program is a combination of the 'Survivor' genre and 'Undercover Boss'," said someone close to the production not authorized to speak to the media.

A rough cut of the program tentatively titled "Not The Middle Seat" obtained by ANN shows the airline CEOs being given a limited budget each week and starting the process by trying to book a flight online. The prices for the seats changed randomly, so if they do not buy as soon as they see a fare they can afford, they might wind up paying hundreds more. Special code in the booking programs only makes middle seats available to the CEOs, who are not allowed to book on their own airlines.

On arrival at the airport, CEOs are subjected to a series of challenges. All flights are oversold. Each week, they are required to pay random fees from their limited budgets. Other challenges include large passengers in the flanking seats, crying babies in the row behind, a 2 hour and 58 minute tarmac delay, the passenger in the seat ahead who fully reclines as soon as the captain says it is allowable, and, of course, the lost luggage test.

At the end of every episode, a panel of judges made up of frequent flyers votes one of the CEOs off the show, and that executive is required to fly coach for a year as part of the contract. The final episode, which has not yet been produced, will feature a trans-Pacific flight in which anything can go wrong ... and probably will.

The show's producers say they hope that the program will show viewers ... the ones who can still afford to fly ... that it's not just them. Even the top executives can have a bad experience on an airline. One executive who spoke to ANN on condition on anonymity said he's not sure why he agreed to participate on the program. "I didn't think it could possibly be as bad as all that," he said. "But after shooting a couple of these episodes, I'm beginning to see why that JetBlue FA shouted obscenities on the PA and blew the emergency slide."

FMI: www.notthemiddleseat.com

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