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  • Ed The Protestant

Airplane Communion

I'm Ed The Protestant. In the fall of 2021 Greg Smith (creator of Considering Catholicism) invited me to not only consider the Catholic faith, but to record our (already ongoing) conversations for his podcast. If you're a Protestant considering Catholicism, I invite you to listen and consider.

I was sitting on an airplane and it was time for snacks. Time for the flight attendants to roll those carts down the aisle. There's something oddly formal about it all, and it's tickled the back of my brain for years. The dispensing of drinks and snacks, the officialness of it all--and then it suddenly snapped into focus:


The serving of airplane snacks was just like communion. Stay with me here...

  • First there's a formal announcement, always the same words always said in the same way, "We will now begin beverage and snack service...". The words are memorized, they're delivered in exactly the same way every time, as required by the airline authorities. They're part of the flight attendant training.

  • It's always served at a specific point in the proceedings--when they've reached cruising altitude, not before.

  • ONLY official representatives of the airline are allowed to pass out the elements. They have to be trained and authorized to handle them. You can see them in the galley, through the curtain, getting everything ready.

  • The official servers are not allowed to start until given the okay from the captain.

  • Next they roll out the 'elements'--beverages and small cookies. They hand them out with the same motions, same facial expressions, and the same words. No deviation.

  • The cart thingy is rolled very deliberately to a precise spot, the wheels locked into place in the same manner every time. It gives the impression of something weighty.

  • The elements are dispensed in the same order: aisle seat first, then middle, then window.

I haven't run this past Greg yet, but now I'm wondering if the Catholic church could offer 'Mass Flights'. Shoot--they already have all the pieces in place.

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