Thursday, March 24, 2011

Airplane etiquette

I just read an interesting article on airplane etiquette entitled "The Middle Seat: So Who Gets the Armrest?" The article talked about the problems with planes these days and why people get so hot and bothered. I saw this first-hand on a flight back from LA last week when a couple with two kids became angry with a kind, older couple who had taken their seats because theirs (and mine) had been given away to other parents with young children. The older couple tried to explain but the dad just bluntly said, "get out of our seats, we have kids, just get out." The mother looked and sounded just as rude and obnoxious.

I was struck by how rude their behavior was and wondered what was up with this couple. Had they been traveling with two small kids from who knows what country and were exhausted? Had they had trouble on their previous flights and couldn't take anymore stress? Or perhaps I was too generous and they were just a nasty pair who treated people with disrespect. As I observed them for awhile, I tended to think it was the latter. Too bad for all that encounter this family. Most of the people on the flight seemed fairly together and kind. I tried to focus on that to keep from getting angry.

Have you had trouble on a flight due to bad behavior by your fellow passengers? How did you handle it?

67 Comments:

Blogger Oligonicella said...

"Or perhaps I was too generous and they were just a nasty pair who treated people with disrespect."

You were too generous.

Yes, I've both been the target and just been present. If target, "Fuck off". I'm really too big to be worth a fight with. If just present, depends. Sometimes a "Fuck off" as a second, sometimes a comment about the dick or twat talking (indirect fuck off).

Unfortunately, the elderly couple doesn't have my advantage.

5:27 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

People on airplanes usually are pretty respectful and decent. There are a few groups that tend to cause trouble, most notably the inebriated. Drunk people are the worst as they scare me. The next problem group is mothers (traveling with their kids), who feel their needs, wants and desires trump all the other passengers. The last group that might cause problems are those that have never flown before who have no idea about the etiquette and are out of their comfort zone.

5:40 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

I've come across those kinds of people before. Every now and then I find that I've "unintentionally" left my foot out in the aisle as they or their kids pass by. I'm hoping that one of these times they do the world a giant favor and hit an arm rest face-first.

5:52 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger br549 said...

I go by what the ticket says. If I'm in the wrong seat, I'll move. Rarely do I do that, I've been flying for business and pleasure 38 years. And I always get the window seat in the emergency exit row no matter what plane I am on. More leg room in the emergency exit row, and no little kids.

6:02 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger ZorroPrimo said...

Much as I despise rude people anywhere I meet them, I am particularly concerned about being hauled off a flight in cuffs by air marshals because of my less-than-steller self-control and corrosive, blood-clotting sarcasm.

Doug and Dinsdale Pirhanna have nothing on me.

6:26 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger Lisa K said...

Either the gate agent or the flight attendant should have assigned them new seats, instead of leaving them to find seats on their own.

8:55 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger Der Hahn said...

with a kind, older couple who had taken their seats because theirs (and mine) had been given away to other parents with young children.

This begs for some further explaination. Were the flight attendants engaging in some sort of seat re-arrangement without coordinating it with gate crew? I don't fly a lot but my experience is more in line with br549's. You get sit where your ticket says you sit, at least until everybody is on the plane. Period. No changes allowed. It doesn't excuse extreme rudeness but I'd be upset if the flight crew was playing fruit basket upset with passengers and put somebody in the seat I had been assigned.

9:32 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Oh yeag, I've been reassigned and reseated on a whim by the flight crew. It's not pleasant, I'm claustrophobic and dislike the middle seat intensely. Since I am small I am often in their cross-hairs as the obvious selection as somebody who won't mind a little negative reconfiguration. The flight crew finds out they're wrong pretty fast. They rearrange to keep families together, because somebody won't sit in their assigned middle seat and because a passenger is the size of a whale and won't spring for more room. Their is nothing I hate more than getting on an airplane to find somebody sitting in my assigned seat that won't move and the flight crew expects me to quietly sit in the middle seat of the last row next to the woman with the screaming baby. I can't and won't do that.

9:47 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

I basically fly for work only...and I stick to Delta as much as possible due to the fact that they are a bit more expensive therefore avoiding the vacationers. I think it's a mixed bag though. The majority of the time it's just people like me--trying to get to and from work and it's not big deal. Once in awhile, if I make the mistake of flying on a Friday, I run into families. Nobody really likes flying with kids--even the parents. I ran into a couple who's kids were SOOO good. I remarked about it and they said that they always had kept a few doses of their kids leftover cold medicine to use during flying. At first I thought that was crazy but then after considering it...I realized that these were SMART parents. Keep the kids sleeping as much as possible. Sorry about you doctors out there (or whomever), that's a GOOD idea!

11:00 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger ZorroPrimo said...

So it's okay to drug your kids on a flight, but I have a "self-medicating problem" when I ask for a second and third gin & tonic?

11:27 PM, March 24, 2011  
Blogger dunkelzahn4prez said...

I don't fly much (thank goodness!), and have only had seating confusion once or twice. IIRC, I was in my assigned seat and another passenger thought I was in their seat. Turned out he was reading his boarding pass incorrectly. I showed him my seat assignment, then looked at his, and we agreed he was in the wrong place. No big deal at all.

10:39 AM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Sandeep said...

I second Der Hahn's question, there is some explanation missing here.

Secondly, I wouldn't find this surprising if the couple involved were Indians. As an Indian myself, I have noted to my dismay that pesky Indian children make the loudest noises at airports and keep testing their parents' patience. In return the parents shout at the children back. Most noisy distractions at airports come when Indian families are traveling - just go to O'Hare terminal 5 at around 2:30 PM if you don't believe me. All because these parents don't teach any values to their kids - all they want of their kids is to have educational/career achievement.

10:56 AM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Dr.K said...

Once on a coach flight to China from Atlanta, I had a young Chinese-American mother and her 6 year old next to me.

The child was well behaved; I offered her some writing paper and a pen so she could draw. The mother put her to work on writing out numbers.

Every so often you get a good child AND parent.

11:01 AM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Could it have been possible that the initial family bought 3 separate grossly discounted middle seats? Since families with small children board first, this family might have approached the flight attendants while boarding and asked for 3 seats together. The flight attendants know that families that sit together have better control over their kids and accommodated them with 3 seats together which they did not deserve. This might have started a domino effect of reassigned seats. Finally, the last family to board attempts to sit where they purchased their seats and they end up looking like mean rude evil-doers. I don't blame them one bit for insisting on sitting in the seats they bought.

11:17 AM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

I might also add, the older couple did not take the rejected seats from the first family. They opted for seats that were empty at the time of the first seat reshuffle but could have potentially been assigned to other passengers, which was found later to be the case. The older couple weren't victims at all, but had a clear understanding of what might happen if the seats they selected were found to be owned by other paying airline customers. I'm sorry the second family had to be rude in order to get their assigned seats. The flight attendants should be reprimanded.

11:34 AM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Dr.K said...

Cham:

Is there anything in your mind that will not excuse the fact that the parents were rude?

They are supposedly adults, after all, and responsible for everything that comes out of their mouths.

Why, I'd even bet that the parents only wanted a little GD civility FFS.

11:52 AM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Were they rude? They bought seats. When they went to their assigned seats they found other passengers in them. When they asked them to leave they didn't, what they got was some an explanation not vacated seats. They firmed up their request with a, "Get out". What else were they supposed to do? Did the flight attendants offer to help or did they just stand there?

11:57 AM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Edgehopper said...

I wouldn't excuse the parents' rudeness or behavior, but they had a right to be angry...at the flight attendants. The airlines let people pick their seats, and the family picked seats so that they could sit together with their kids. Why should they have to move because some other family didn't get their tickets early enough and wasn't able to sit together?


My girlfriend and I, both oversized but able to fit in one seat, try to sit together in a 2 seat aisle if possible; we don't mind squashing each other, so it's best for everyone. If we can't get seats together, we might ask a person next to us politely if they're willing to switch (she might be a solo flier who thought she could get a seat by herself when she booked, but now would rather sit next to a thinner person). But we'd never expect the flight attendants to force the seat change, and we'd be pretty pissed off if we were forced to separate and squash other people because a family felt they had to sit together.

12:03 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

WellCham, seems you missed Helen's observations:

The older couple tried to explain but the dad just bluntly said, "get out of our seats, we have kids, just get out." The mother looked and sounded just as rude and obnoxious.

Mayhap people wouldn't be so down on the couple if they'd dealt with airline personnel instead of showing their asses.

12:09 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Where were the airline personnel during all of this? I'd like to know. It was the airline personnel that allowed the older couple to choose new seats that belonged to other paying customers. I doubt the flight attendants relished the idea of telling the older couple they now were going to be separated and seated in much less desirable seats. Read Edgehoppers post, that is the right way to handle seat changes.

12:41 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Helen said...

Cham,

No, their first response was "get out." There was no need to be rude. The correct response was to get the flight attendant which we did and she found seats for those of us whose seats had been given to others.

12:48 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger campy said...

I'd say pretty much everyone involved in the story was rude.

1:05 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

I agree wholeheartedly, campy. I fly with US Airways. They don't concentrate on being sugary polite and accommodating, they work on being fair which is all I ask. When there is a seating challenge they take the people with the challenge and make them stand with their bags where they won't be in the way. The flight attendants check the seating chart for open seats and that is where they go. No muss no fuss.

1:17 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Roy said...

Mercy sakes alive!

This kind of bullshit is why I avoid flying if I can.

I can't speak for the rudeness of the parents in question because I wasn't there. But I will tell you that the airlines themselves have encouraged this kind of behavior by treating all of their passengers - paying customers - as cattle.

Had I been a Dad with a wife and two kids, who had through due diligence booked our seats properly, only to have it all undone at the very last minute because of this musical seat shenanigans, I might have gotten a bit rude as well.

Indeed, I have gotten upset and rude - at airline personal - because of this sort of thing.

Once booked, travelers mainly want two things - comfort and reliability. The airlines these days are providing neither, and that is not a sustainable business model.

1:52 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Rich said...

Several years ago we experienced a involuntary seat change when we go to the airport. 3 people, 2 adults one child of about 7 or 8. We booked all three seats together, the airline changed the plane and all bets are off. They want to stick all three of us in separate rows all around the plane. Fine you want to separate me from my wife and child okay but no way in hell are you separating a 7 year old from her mother when they are traveling together. Basically, I told that to the ground agent and was told well I don't know if we can do anything about as there was no indication that one was a child. I started taking names and said to them that you better find a solution or get us three seats on the next flight out because are not separating my wife an child else you and the airline are going to be sued. All said very calmly and matter of factly. They did ask a single passenger if they would change seats and I ended up in the last row while they were in the middle together.
Never should have happened on the plane.
I have seen where the agent will ask if someone is willing to move and swap seats as the family is there. If the family is not too large it often happens.

2:36 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Helen said...

Rich,

This is what happened with us. Three of us were originally booked together and when we went to the gate, they changed our seats without us realizing it until we got on so we were separated. This happened to several other families who had children and they were kept together. It was kind of a mix-up but the rest of us tried to be polite. If the couple had been a bit more polite, it would have been easier.

2:43 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger SWWBO said...

I used to fly 48 weeks out of the year. Thank God I lost that job after 7 years of flying hell!!
The rudest people I ran into were invariably lawyers and politicians, who demanded that their time was more important than anyone's. I was literally pushed out of line while boarding on more than one occasion.

One time, at O'Hare, I was pushed to my knees by a man who was in a bigger hurry to get to his seat than he should have been.

Didn't matter if they were male or female, they were as a group, really awful to fly on the same plane with.

I'll never forget the woman who stood up on the arm of the seat to pull out luggage over her seat and throw it on the floor - because she was positive that her bag belonged with her, since it had a deposition in it.

I may be poorer not flying all over the world for work, but I'm much happier!

2:47 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Mark Well said...

Unclear, Helen. How did the older couple take these seats? Please clarify.

2:47 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger BarryD said...

If I get my ticket early, or waste an extra hour in the airport, so I can choose my seat, I damn well want that seat.

"Kindness" can be incredibly inconsiderate, e.g. when a driver stops traffic behind them, costing a whole line of cars another turn at the traffic light, to be "considerate" to one car that could just wait an extra few seconds before pulling out of a parking lot, without any cost. The older couple did not consider the costs of their "kindness" to the other family. To be truly considerate, one has to consider the costs to ALL parties, not just the party in their faces at the moment.

The "broken window fallacy" of charity, I think.

2:52 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Bill Capehart said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:54 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger jayemarr said...

If I found someone in my seat, I'd ask why they were in it. When they told me that the flight crew had seated them there, my next question would have been to the flight attendant, not the people in the seats. (They were just doing what they were told, right?)

This isn't just a problem of manners -- although it is that as well -- it's a lack of common sense.

2:54 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger BarryD said...

BTW my way of handling flying is similar to a lot of my ethic in life, regarding other people.

I don't bother people, I share my space if necessary, I don't ask for anything special, and I make the best of any given situation. I EXPECT THE SAME FROM OTHERS, and I'll say so if need be.

Children should be assigned ejection seats. Knowing they could be ejected would provide motivation for parents, and/or relief for other passengers.

2:59 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Jim O said...

It's not just on airplanes, my fellow humans. Etiquette is disappearing from human society. Have you driven a car on public streets lately? (I'd like to give a particular shout-out to BMW drivers here.) Ever been on the 10-items-or-less lane behind the turkey with 17 items who acts like the purchase is the the closing of the sale of the Empire State Building? And those people who don't flush after using public toilets?

As technology improves, human behavior . . . what's the opposite of improves?

3:01 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Bill said...

I am a frequent traveler (elite status and all that stuff) and I've seen rotten behavior from all sorts (from DYKWIA mega kryptonite elites, to people flying for their first time and not seeing the romance of a 60's airlines commercial).

And then come the families. My own toddler is also Elite (sucks to be you, eh?) so I sympathize from both ends. Some kids you don't know are there (like mine unless they don't have the cookies he likes at which point we're all doomed, otherwise he's trained and can get through security faster than most people), others are pro-choice poster children, and the worse are the parents who expect you to adore and care for their children.

Some airlines have rows reserved for families and assign them at the gate (or can do it on the phone). Others do the worst thing and make you move for them (and big-n-talls), so the airline has to take some responsibility for this since kids are booked with parents.

But my worse circle of hell are for people who can't handle their Carryons. they are either too many or too big, and won't fit into the bins, or they insist on putting them up front so they can walk leisurely to the back so someone coming in later has to hunt and for a space and then wait for the plane to empty before getting their bag. And THEN they insist that they visit their bags frequently just to spitefully Those people can just die as far as I'm concerned.

My favorite flight EVER was one someone did that and the affected passenger grabbed her bag when she visiting it. He grabbed it, walked behind her until he got to his bag's bin and swapped them. People clapped, and she was humiliated but had to feign outrage. Not sure what's she's done on flights since.

3:01 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger eb said...

From about 1973 till 1990 I would fly round trip from Atlanta to San Francisco,about six to eight times a year.
I would always fly Delta, and back then I would always try to book on the Lockheed L1011. If you could get booked early, you could manage to get comfortable seating, even in economy due to the seating configuration.
I had only one uncomfortable experience, which the flight attendants handled rather smartly. The lady sitting next to me brought on four or five packages and insisted on me giving up my legroom by placing them in my foot and leg space. The attendant made her put them in checked baggage. Needless to say, she never spoke to me on the four plus hour flight.
I have not traveled by air in about fifteen years. Guess I was lucky back then and fortunate now that I have not had to fly in years.

3:03 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger BarryD said...

The L1011 was the last plane I didn't hate being on.

3:18 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Jim S said...

The one time I had a similar problem was on a Royal Jordanian Airlines flight, whose flight attendant saw nothing wrong with giving away my seat to a family, without permission. The attendant eventually found me another seat, but I won't fly with them again.

3:20 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Zippy said...

As a frequent traveler with two small kids, for some reason our seats are often scattered all over the plane sitting us all by ourselves. Most times this cannot be fixed at the airport and the gate agent always makes us get on the plane and ask people if they would mind switching. Even if they're traveling by themselves. Sometimes people are nice, sometime quite rude. If you want to sit 4 hours by my three year old by yourself, then I have no problem with that.

3:20 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

Were they rude? They bought seats.

So did the older couple. So, yes, it is rude to just demand that they move.

Please. Thank you. Yes ma'am. No, sir. Little words, kind words. Parents should be setting examples for their children. If you behave poorly, don't be shocked and suprised when your offspring model their behaviour on your own.

3:30 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger eb said...

BarryD,
Yes the L1011 was a good plane. Never had a moment of concern due to equipment reliability.
And, if you flew in coach, as I had to do, you could appreciate that first row of seats in coach, next to the first class bulkhead separator which provided plenty of legroom and enough room to get up and stretch without having to go out into the aisle.
If you had to spend four hours in coach, on a long flight, that was the way to go. And book early to get those seats.

3:51 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Zippy, we find ourselves in the same predicament. My kids are 12, 11, 9 and 7, fantastic travelers. On our last trip out west (two planes) we were all six scattered around the plane. This was after having "chosen" our seats.

We ask if people will move, but you'd be surprised how often someone won't trade their seat but would instead rather sit next to an unaccompanied kid. But I'm sure not going to yell about it.

Oh, and I'm not talking about trading a good seat for a bad one. It's usually an apples-to-apples trade. At any rate, all of us would rather be scattered than in the back with the babies and toddlers!

4:02 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Helen said...

I RA Darth Aggie,

"Parents should be setting examples for their children. If you behave poorly, don't be shocked and suprised when your offspring model their behaviour on your own."

I think this is why I was so put off by their behavior. Their children did not need to see such behavior modeled for them. One of the kids (around 3) looked like a real hand full and probably didn't need to see her parents display such disrespect. It will only serve to enhance her own sense of entitlement and teach her that treating others like trash is okay.

4:02 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger DocRambo said...

My pet peeve is the morbidly obese passenger next to you who says,"You don't mind if we put the arm rest up, do you?' They are always shocked when I tell them that the arm rest is going to stay down--if you raise it, they spread out into your space and you have absolutely no space at all. They should buy two seats if they need them, not poach yours.

4:06 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger BarryD said...

"If you had to spend four hours in coach, on a long flight, that was the way to go. And book early to get those seats."

Yup. And if I did (when I did fly a lot on business) that was my damned seat -- short of a complimentary upgrade to First Class, of course.

Seriously, if I buy something, it's mine unless I voluntarily give it away. I don't advocate rudeness initially, but I don't have a particular problem with speaking my mind if it becomes necessary.

4:25 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Mike said...

You land, your flight is late and your connection is tight. And, some passenger from behind you takes off up the aisle to get in front of everyone else seated ahead.

4:34 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger nerdybaldguy07 said...

I fly Southwest often. No pre-assigned seats. Since I fly on business, I spend the extra $50 to get Business Select, which means I get to board first. So I never get a middle seat.

4:43 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger br549 said...

Overall, flying blows.

4:51 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger BarryD said...

Yeah. If you packed sardines in a can while the sardines were still alive, you'd go to jail for cruelty.

5:45 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger gutless said...

I had to stab a guy once, but it's a long story.

6:33 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger 30yearProf said...

Three responses. Usage varies.

1. I booked this seat on purpose and it is mine. I don't care that you are 100 pounds overweight.

2. To attendant, I'll be happy to move for a $50/$100 certificate. They carry them on all flights just for this type of situation.

3. If it's an overseas flight, Yes, I'll move to business class.

They are so happy to hear "Yes" that they agree to the reasonable request 80% of the time.

6:38 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Treven said...

I like being large, bearded, muscular and grumpy looking. I may be an English prof, bit when flying, it helps to look like a lumberjack with a sports coat.

7:06 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger John said...

BarryD, if you don't like flying with children, buy a ticket on a private jet, don't take it out on children. After all, they are going to pay for your retirement.

8:14 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger BarryD said...

I didn't say that I didn't like flying with children, now did I?

MOST children, I like a lot. Dogs, too.

Incentives change behavior. The option of ejection would therefore would seldom actually need to be exercised. :-)

Let me be perfectly clear... I think that we don't have nearly enough social pressure in our society. We've lost the power of shame, and the power of knowing you might get your nose bashed in if you're a serious jerk. These things kept most of us from behaving badly, when they were in effect. Now, the biggest jerk wins, because there are no consequences for being a jerk, other than that a jerk will get his way most of the time.

Incentives matter.

8:36 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger MC said...

In my little part of the world, our rural train line into the capital city had major problems with this issue.
The service has first class, reserved economy and unreserved economy carriages.
For a period of time the conductors (because of under-staffing) would deal with seating disputes by simply asking anyone who had lost their assigned seat to sit in the nearest empty seat. This of course led to the domino effect. The service quickly became a nightmare to use with arguments at nearly every stop.
The situation came to a head only after a physical fight ended in a quite serious injury for one passenger and the rail company received statewide media attention over the issue.
The fix was simple, the rail company instituted an absolute zero tolerance policy over seating, everyone in their assigned seat no matter what, with explicit and repeated warnings that anyone in the wrong seat who refused to move would be removed from the train at the next stop.
Over the top - perhaps, but now there virtually no arguments or fights and more relevantly hardly and rudeness over seating.

8:55 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger HMS Defiant said...

Weird,

I pick up my daughter (7) in Texas and have been doing for several years. They way it works is I take the middle seat always and she gets the window. We're legit. Where we board late I just ask the first row I come to with a somebody sitting in hte middle seat I ask if they'd like the aisle seat and I'll take their place in the middle.

There have been a couple of flights where it looked unlikely on the face of it to get to sit with my girl. I have a simple answer to that one. OK, you sit with her. She's a nice girl and can keep herself amused for hours but the clowns that insist on sitting in that middle seat are terrified of little girls.

9:51 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Ediv said...

As others have stated. I buy a ticket, I select the seat, and I expect to sit in the seat selected. I can understand changing seats due to weight configuration, but changing because a family displaced a "kind old couple"? To hell with that. The flight experience has become a disaster since 9/11 (no nail clippers and gropping and naked exposure), no need to make it tougher

10:10 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger Flyover Pilgrim said...

@ Barry D:
you said: I think that we don't have nearly enough social pressure in our society. We've lost the power of shame...

Yes, and yes.

10:17 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger PD Quig said...

An idiot in the last row rushed up several aisles as soon as the plane arrived at the gate. Those of us struggling to get our carryon luggage down and rearrange our belongings now had another person bumping into us, being in the way. At 6' 4" 200 lbs. I need all the room I can get on airplane and made no effort to avoid inserting myself--and my armpits--into this little twerp's personal space. When he went ballistic with a rant that included physical threats, I simply reminded him how uncomfortable the San Clara County jail might be on a Sunday night with no hope for bail until the next morning. When I suggested aloud that there were probably many eye witnesses who would attest to his provocation, he finally backed off (there were many nods all around). As a final irony, we saw this dipstick head to the baggage claim area...he was in such a hurry to get off the plane to wait 30 minutes for his luggage. Moron.

10:41 PM, March 25, 2011  
Blogger MarkD said...

I had the misfortune of sitting one row behind a woman and her two screaming jerk kids from Chicago to Hawaii. I'm pro-life, but I could have been talked into an exception in this instance. Finally, she drugged the little b4st4rds, and the last few hours were tolerable.

Guess who was on the plane, sitting in the seat behind me, (and kicking it) on the way back to Chicago two weeks later?

The Marine Corps can reduce anything to a pithy phrase. I'm going to heaven, I've done my time in hell.

1:05 AM, March 26, 2011  
Blogger Allison said...

Speaking as a parent of 2, and prior frequent flyer, the airlines have a lot of the blame here.

On Delta, it is *impossible* to get you and your children seated together if there are 4 of you and you buy a standard coach fare on a 757/md80/similar 2/3 or 3/3 seating config. That's because at least one, if not two of the seats in your row are premium fares, and you MUST pay extra to get them.

Likewise, even if you are flying, say, American, if you are not the absolute first people to pick your seat selection --by being the first people to buy tickets for that flight--there are no ways of coordinating sitting together because the algorithms put people in aisles and windows and no full empty rows remain. This algorithm does not even require a 2 yr old (who must buy a ticket) to be seated with an accompanying parent.

It used to be that if you arrived early at the gate or luggage check in (say 2 hours before a flight), staff would release rows just for such families, and you could all be reticketed to sit together. No more. That simply does not happen on Delta or American. The gate staff do not care or cannot help that your 2 yr old is seated in their own row, by themselves.

As a result, families often ask lots of people if they will trade seats with them, in some attempt to get small children seated next to at least one parent.

But let's say there are you, at the gate, trying to get your family reticketed to all be together, and you buy the darn upgrades to do it, and you finally get on the plane, and people have taken your seats. I'd be pretty much at the end of my rope too. I can see how that could happen very easily now. And really, no one on the airplane cares to help you--and none of them would blink about throwing you off the plane without your children.

2:41 AM, March 26, 2011  
Blogger br549 said...

I fly a lot for work. Like millions do. The flying "experience", with all the things we are now so familiar with mixed in, is something that just needs to be "handled" as best as possible.

Allison, I remember my dad at all major holiday meals. He would get frustrated with everyone constantly asking to pass this and pass that while he was trying to eat. Finally in exasperation, he would look at all of us and say, "Eat something near you!"

Until my kids reached the age they could control themselves, or be comfortable enough sitting by someone they did not know, they never set foot on an airplane. I submit you should vacation somewhere near you until you kids come of age to be able to fly.

6:42 AM, March 26, 2011  
Blogger JG said...

There should be mutual consideration when kids are involved on planes. I do my part by mostly keeping my mouth shut when a baby right behind me has been screaming at the top of its lungs for 45 minutes etc.

Unfortunately, some mothers (and fathers) don't seem to realize their part in this mutual consideration pact. They think that because they have kids they can do pretty much what they want at the expense of others. They think everyone is as fascinated with their kids as they are. And they see absolutely no need to reign the kids in - in any way, shape or form.

6:49 AM, March 26, 2011  
Blogger Cham said...

Allison: The solution to your seating challenge is to pony up the extra money and BUY the premium seat. Simply because you have a family doesn't mean the airline should give up its ability to earn money.

7:43 AM, March 26, 2011  
Blogger Allison said...

Cham. That's what I said: so up you pony up, and the find other people have taken your seats after all? I'd be pretty indignant at that point.

5:55 PM, March 26, 2011  
Blogger Allison said...

--Until my kids reached the age they could control themselves, or be comfortable enough sitting by someone they did not know, they never set foot on an airplane.

That's lovely for your family. But lots of people don't live near extended family. Sometimes you have to go to a funeral or a wedding and there is no choice but to take the children on a plane.

Note the problem here wasn't the children being badly behaved. Many children can do fine sitting next to a stranger. But in this world, I can't assume that the stranger will be decent to my child anymore, and can't assume a flight attendant will be either.

5:58 PM, March 26, 2011  
Blogger Jayson said...

On the subject of kids, I've found that ear plugs are sanity savers. I've had to fly too many times with crying babies (and there is not a lot that a parent can do on a airplane to stop a crying baby) and little hellions ignored by their parents. Now I just stick my ear plugs in and ignore everyone. After a flight with a very loud, drunk and angry flier that kept stomping up and down the ailes, I also keep a carabiner attached to the top of my carry on. I explain to the person next to me (loudly) that they make great brass knuckles 'just in case' and I've never had a problem with rude people near me. Carry ons are my pet peave. I'm getting sick and tired of seeing someone with combinations of giant purse, laptop case, baby bag, and a carry on that qualifies as full sized luggage taking up 3 peoples worth of bin space.

9:23 AM, March 27, 2011  
Blogger Erik said...

The most trouble I have had on a flight was not due to bad behavior by my fellow passengers, but to good behavior by my fellow passengers!

Indeed, the behavior on airliners that most annoys me is not that made by obnoxious people but that made by the supposedly politest of people — albeit at the worst possible moment.

People should realize that being deferential and coming to a complete stop in order to allow someone else to pass in front of oneself is not — repeat, not — applicable when disembarking from an airplane.

Specifically, the plane has landed and come to its final resting place, and now some (most?) passengers are standing in one long crowded line along the narrow aisle and are waiting at least somewhat impatiently — for reasons logical (having to catch a connecting flight) or otherwise — for the door to open to get off.

If anything, at this point, for some person to stop, and bring the entire flow of exiting impatient passengers to a stop — while waiting for some waif who is in no hurry to get off to skip into the center aisle, reach above her head to first get one bag out of the overhead compartment, then another bag, plus her coat, and a sweater, followed by her boyfriend who has to slide through to the aisle and engage in the same activities — is disrespectful to the people behind him.

Of course, this doesn't mean anyone should be a boor. And sure, stopping can be fine if it is but a simple pause when you can tell a person in front of you is set'n'ready (standing, watching when he or she can join the flow) to jump into the moving flow and take off at the same speed (or lack thereof) as everyone else. But too often some person will stop for a passenger who is seated, or has barely stood up, and is taking her time and seemingly in no hurry to get off, and is more or less oblivious to what is going on in the aisle.

It's akin to stopping one's car at a green light, making all cars behind come to a stop, i.e., breaking the flow of the traffic, and that in order to "politely" allow a car on the perpendicular roadway to make, say, a right-hand turn on a red light. No! Keep the traffic flowing and let the other driver move in her good time, i.e., when her light turns green (in other words, when there is a "natural" break in the flow)…

If anything, this type of aircraft deference is not only impolite, and annoying, to the people who are ready to leave the aircraft or in a hurry, it is also impolite to the passenger that the champion of politeness is supposedly being polite to: that passenger may be in no hurry to get off, and she is now feeling pressured to speed up when she would be just as happy taking her time and leaving later or even being the last person off the aircraft… No, pressure has nothing to do with politeness…

9:17 PM, March 27, 2011  

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