Jonathan Rauch's satirical column from National Journal was an instant classic. It starts like this:
"Hello! Thank you for calling Air Health Care, the airline that works like the health care system. My name is Cynthia. How can I give you travel care today?"
"Hi. My name is Jonathan Rauch. I need to fly from Washington, D.C., to Eugene, Oregon, on October 23."
"Yes, I'd be happy to assist you with that. It does look like we can get you on a flight on January 23 at 1 p.m. or February 8 at 3 p.m. Which would you prefer?"
"Neither. I need to be in Eugene on October 23. As in, the 23rd of October."
"I'm sorry, we have nothing open on that date. You might try another carrier."
It's now been acted out in video form: