In these days of political correctness when fuel-laden kites are sent across borders and so-called leaders of countries threaten other nations with nuclear holocaust, let’s take pause to explore bad behavior at 35,000 feet.
Sure most of us flying in economy class rate persistent seat-kickers at the top of the list. In fact, the majority in a recent study said they were most irritated by seat-kickers, with a sizable number stating their frustration with inattentive parents who have no control or who don’t pay attention to their unruly children.
Before rating 19 other atrocious kinds of behaviors we inflict upon each another when crammed into a metal container reaching near supersonic speeds, let me share with you two stories of frequent flier clients.
While this airline has suffered extremely bad press in the last year, ranging from dragging a client off an overbooked plane to killing pets aboard their planes, the recent lawsuit filed against United Airlines by Queen Obioma last month reeks to high heaven. In fact, her suit is predicated on her pungent odor.
It seems that Obioma was flying on a relatively short flight from Houston to San Francisco along with her children. Far be it from me to criticize one’s choice of personal deodorants, but the Obioma’s trip was one leg of a long journey that had originated in Lagos and was meandering through Houston to San Francisco to Ontario Canada, where her children attended boarding school. In her lawsuit, she stated unequivocally that she was racially discriminated against after a Caucasian passenger complained she had a pungent odor, resulting in her being removed from her flight. Her piquant litigation also accused the airline of discrimination due to her being both African and black.
KATIE, NO stranger to flying in economy or business class, was the beneficiary of flying in first class on a short-haul American Airlines flight from the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia to Atlanta.
American Airlines is more commonly known as AA, an acronym that suits this story to a T. It seems that a passenger, let’s call him Happy, lined up at the gate with two friends who were booked in economy class. He insisted the gate agent allow them to board together and while they were loaded down with too many carry-on bags, Happy brushed away the agent’s request for the extra bag to be consolidated or gate checked. Happy took his seat in 1A while his friends continued into economy. Shortly thereafter, the AA first-class attendant greeted each of the eight passengers in first class and asked if they’d like a pre-departure beverage.
Happy noisily gulped his drink and as boarding neared completion, he asked for two more drinks.
The flight attendant opined that he could only order one drink at a time so he ordered one double shot for himself and one for the lady next to him, who seemingly was a stranger and didn’t want a drink.
Once the drinks were delivered, he took both of them and headed toward the economy cabin. The flight attendant quickly stopped him, telling him he must stay in the first-class cabin. Happy argued that he needed to go to the bathroom, with his two drinks, to which the flight attendant noted that there was a bathroom at the front of the plane just for the first-class passengers.
Happy went back to his seat with both drinks and texted his friends to come to him and use the bathroom. The flight attendant stopped them at the threshold between economy and first and told them to use the bathroom at the rear of the plane. Happy started arguing with the attendant, who accused Happy of simply trying to ply his friends with his drinks.
By this time, the plane was completely loaded, but the pilots were still standing in the forward galley and the boarding door remained open. Happy sullenly took his seat, gulped down one of his drinks and returned the other drink to the attendant. Not 10 minutes passed before an AA representative boarded the plane and asked to speak with Happy in the jet way. A few minutes later, Happy returned to get his carry-on baggage and unsteadily left the plane with no further comments.
In answering questions from the other first-class passengers, the attendant said the decision to remove Happy was based on a combination of factors, primarily the safety of the crew and passengers. Bottom line: Happy was canned.
Now while being intoxicated or malodorous may get you kicked off a plane, these atrocious kinds of behavior will generally only earn you daggers from your fellow flyers. This is my list from the least-cited annoyance to the worse irritant: Overhead bin abuse
You arrived at the gate on time, boarded in orderly fashion and used your allotted overhead bin space for your nicely folded coat and new fedora.
Then Late Lummox arrives with a suitcase, stroller and shopping bag and mangles your dapper wear beyond recognition while shoving half his life possessions into a compartment meant for one personal item.
Then proceeds to sit 12 rows away.Compulsive leg shaking
Not often encountered but nonetheless trying at 30,000 feet.
This one was actually raised by a leg-shaking client, who notes that, once, the woman next to him leaned over and placed a firm hand on his knee – an unmistakable signal to still the hyperactive leg. One can only imagine the prolonged psychological drama that finally led to such an aggressive request.Boarding before group number is called
Most airlines have a system for getting hundreds of passengers aboard in the least amount of time. That’s why we schlep onto a plane as part of Group A or B or 1 or 4.
Granted, rubbing shoulders with the dirties in boarding group Y is like being stuck in the back row for a basketball game at Pais Arena, and we’re all familiar with the anxiety that comes with watching the multitudes board and snatching up all that overhead bin space.
If airlines hadn’t started with the checked baggage fees, getting on early wouldn’t be so critical to one’s emotional well being. But just because you drew the short straw on this one doesn’t give you the right to pretend to be dyslexic.Babies crying
Is the human race worth perpetuating? You often think not when exposed on a flight to incessant infantile bawling.
Kid-free zones top the surveys of many airplane wish lists.
Are we really blaming babies for doing what babies do naturally? Sure, as long as they’re your kids, and not ours.Getting huffy over bathroom visits
It’s a struggle to find balance when it comes to bathroom breaks.
“I’d learn some bladder control if I were in the window seat,” these smug aisle-sitters think to themselves virtuously.
On the other hand, constant restroom visits are annoying. Airplane toilet breaks? Nobody wins.Yapping on cell phone
“Hey, we just landed. ... can you hear me? ... we just landed ... I’m on the runway ... can you hear me now? ... We just landed ...”Scarfing smelly food
We get it – airlines have cut back on food service, forcing us all to bring our own snacks and meals onboard, but did you really have to clean out the back of your refrigerator and bring it on the flight? Loud talking
If Internet dating doesn’t really work, is random plane jawing going to? We’re trying to read.Establishing armrest hegemony
The weapon here is the elbow – and the lesson?
That nowhere do we regress to selfish, war-like invasion of territory more speedily than on a plane.Poaching the empty middle seat
Praise the airline Gods, the middle seat is empty!
Until the selfish boor next to you lays claim to the no man’s land of the middle seat with a book, coat or inflatable neck support.
Space is at a premium on these buses with wings; share it when you can.Coughing, sneezing, germ sharing
“Boundaries” are what these last few points are really about.
And in no way are boundaries more violently shattered than when someone shares their spit globules or spends 20 minutes horking up the carrier agents of a virulent new illness picked up on vacation.Playing games without turning sound off
Funny how some of the most irritating things on the planet can be called “games.”
No, you’re right. It really isn’t funny. Unless being a bystander to “bleep, bloop, blorp” keeps you entertained for two hours.Rolling huge suitcases up aisle
There’s always at least one culprit on each flight with a bag that’s way too big to be carry-on trying to prove to everyone that’s it’s not.
“Supermarket-sized duty-free shopping hauls” are another related bugbear from travel journalist Tom Jordan.People behind you trying to disembark first
What is it about flying that induces such primitive behavior? Here we’ve regressed to the time before the invention of the queue.Neglecting personal hygiene
Ever sat on a seven-hour New York-London flight next to the smelliest man in the universe? One to whom the concept of soap and water seems never to have occurred to him. To add salt to the wound the plane was fully booked. There was no way out.
Air crew carry deodorant on board for this very reason. But they shouldn’t have to.
Carrying out personal hygiene routines while aloft – cutting your fingernails, say – is just as bad.Bare feet
Feet nudism is a common complaint in my very unofficial survey. Flights are the perfect time to air these paws out. Appalling side note: people who actually go to the bathroom on the airplane in their bare feet.Hogging the toilet
What are they doing in there, you wonder as you hover cross-legged by the door. Certainly not being considerate of other people.Reclining the seat
Curious how a sanctioned behavior – pressing the seat recline button, thus pinioning the person behind with their own tray table – should raise so many people’s ire. Redesign these babies, airplane engineers! Kicking/bumping/shoving the seat back
As previously noted. Here’s the most toxic irritant by a country mile. Designed to save on fuel, airplane seats are incredibly light – meaning they transmit the slightest touch.
Or amplify it. To the poor schlub in front, your constant fidgeting with your tray table and seat pocket feels like a kung fu world champion working out.
While rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength, I’ll leave you with my conclusion: No one is more insufferable than he who lacks basic courtesy.
The writer is the CEO of Ziontours, Jerusalem. For questions and comments email him at mark.feldman@ ziontours.co.il
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