September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7
By Steven Feldman
There are times when we all get writer’s block. This is one of those times. Maybe the ADHD is setting in. More probable is that my difficulty in focusing is due to a couple of hurricanes that ravaged parts of two of our most populous states, followed by the 16-year anniversary of 9/11. So I apologize if my head is not in the game this week.
Rather than dwell on tragedy, let’s switch gears and try to find some levity in this difficult month. And that levity comes in the form of one of my favorite topics—air travel. If you recall, two years ago I wrote a column about 10 of the most annoying people you encounter when you fly. They included: those who can’t master the art of going through security; those who congregate at the gate five zones ahead of their assigned group; those who make five trips to the restroom on a two-hour flight; those who snore, are gaseous or bring the most pungent food on planes; and those who try to fit small pianos in the overhead space, to name a few.
A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting a flight attendant named “Crystal” (name changed to protect the innocent). We learned that we shared a disdain for selfish or self-absorbed passengers. I then forwarded her the column I referenced above. She loved it so much she asked if she sent me some of her favorites would I write part 2. So, without further adieu, here is the follow-up to “The most wanted people—or at least they should be,” with input from the coolest flight attendant ever.
- Impediments to on-time departures. “I can’t stand when passengers come on the plane and put their bags up only to stand there and take everything out while holding up the boarding process. You know what you need to travel; don’t hold my line up.”
- Open seating? “Sometimes seat assignments preclude people from sitting with their travel companions. They often assume other passengers will switch seats with them so they can sit with their loved ones. They sit in whatever seat they want and tell the passenger whose seat they are occupying to go sit somewhere else. They’re putting people on the spot. Most passengers pick their seats for a reason.”
- In the zone—their own. “I despise people who keep their headphones in during service and then ask me to repeat, ‘peanuts, pretzels, cookies or granola bar’ seven times.”
- Loud talkers. “I’m all for conversation but the person in 11F is not interested in what 6D is telling 7C. Keep it down. Can you imagine if these people were allowed to talk on the phone during the flight?”
And now me…
- Anglers. Don’t you love it when you are waiting in the gate area for a few minutes to board, they call your zone, you get in line and then people suddenly appear out of nowhere and “angle in.” It’s like, “You can wait on line; I’ll just merge in.”
- Middle seat hogs. One of the greatest gifts you can receive in air travel is when you are seated on the aisle or window and the middle seat is vacant. However, some people try to claim this space as more convenient storage than the area beneath the seat in front of them.
- Stuck in time. Remember Pan Am? TWA? They are long gone. So are choices of free meals in coach. In fact, there are no free meals on 99% of flights. You have to love those people who ask the attendant for their choice of free meals in coach.
- Rushers. There is a protocol for exiting an airplane. Surprisingly—or maybe not so—not everyone knows it. You allow the people seated in front of you to exit their rows before you proceed. How do you like the person in 36D who jumps out of his seat like a jackrabbit when the bell sounds, trying to get as far front as possible until someone enters the aisle and blocks his path?
- Clappers. Why do people applaud the fact we landed safely? That is one of the few responsibilities that remain for the airlines. Do you applaud the mailman when he delivers your bills? On second thought, maybe applause is in order. Because landing signals my cue to escape.