Previously Sara wrote about her flying anxiety. Meanwhile, I just get annoyed while flying. Here’s why:
Airplane boarding is a caste system.
I’m not just talking first class vs. economy seating. There’s priority boarding, too. If you’re one of those people who gets called to board first, you should be embarrassed: This means you’re either too rich (or you prioritize your spending in ways I don’t) or you’re a workaholic because you have too many frequent flyer miles - and probably too many emails. (I should disclose here that I hope to one day have those frequent flyer miles.)
Also, what is this nonsense where we have to stand in two separate lines? First class already boarded, but I still have to stand on a different square of carpet than them?
Seat mate etiquette is like elevator etiquette: Avoid any sort of contact, including eye contact.
Unless you’re exceedingly lucky, you will be seated beside a total stranger. How are you supposed to greet this person who will be sharing your armrest for at least the next hour if not half the day if your plane taxis on the runway for eternity? Of course, there’s sometimes the opt-out where there’s an empty row and one of you jumps ship. But how do you approach that conversation?
I watched two older men squished together: The one by the window, who had less girth than the one on the aisle, eyed the vacant row behind them before asking if he could squeeze out and spread his legs there.
Aisle-seated one: “Don’t you want to wait until they close the doors?”
Dude, that next five minutes was awkward. Finally, the aisle-seated man lifted the drawbridge and let the window man relocate.
Or you could be seated with “Susan” like I was. For a brief period I thought I would have a three-seat row all to myself. I had already Snapchatted this joyous announcement when Susan arrived, demanding to know where she should put her purse now that the overhead space was filled.
The steward: “Maybe at your feet?”
Susan and I sat with a seat between us. I was on four hours’ sleep so I slipped in and out. I kept coming to and finding Susan gazing at me. I roused fully when the stewardess asked if I wanted a drink.
Me: “Water, please.”
Susan: “Don’t you want a real drink? Can I have a coffee, diet Coke, Bacardi, and Bailey’s? Make that two Bacardi’s.” She turned back to me. “Why don’t you want a drink?”
Maybe because it’s 8:15 AM?
By the time we touched down, I knew Susan’s life story: Her grandmother had just passed, and this was the first time she was seeing her family in 11 years. She would be staying with her ex-husband and his fiancée (who she FaceTimes daily; she just loves her). When not disrupting funerals, she is a once-famous travel photographer trying to return to the top who also bartends at the airport. “You just have to live your life,” she declared to me.
I've decided to write a book inspired by Susan’s adventures.
New Jersey sucks.
I've always known New Jersey’s reputation, but I have friends from the armpit of America, so I never believed it – until I had a layover in Newark.
First, I couldn't find my way out of the terminal. I circled terminal C about three times looking for the words “Terminal A” – since I had a connecting flight at gate A21 – to no avail until it dawned on me that “Air Train” might mean something. But then I realized the Air Train signs were leading me both out of Terminal C, but also out of security. I didn’t want to go through security again!
I turned around to ask the security guard, halfway to the exit, and he starts waving at me to not approach him and continue on at all costs.
Me: “Can I ask you a question?”
Guard: “No.” He continues to bodily wave me away.
What? I can't ask you a question?
This sent me through security for the second time that day. Even if you haven’t gone through security multiple times in your life, you should know you need your boarding pass and ID out when you pass through security because of the multitude of signs posted and common sense (unless you’re the above-it-all businessman or senile great-grandmother). However, my TSA line overseer felt compelled to shout a reminder after checking the forms of every single person who already had their pass and ID out:
“Folks, you need your ID and boarding pass out. Please have it out when you step up to me.”
Repeat 9886129126982621 times. On top of a woman behind him shouting,
"Remember to take off your shoes and belts! Ma'am, you need to take off that sweater! Laptops in a separate bin! Remember to take off . . ."
I might have forgiven his aggressive, grinding voice if, when I reached him, he didn't tell me to stand in front of him. I suddenly became aware that I was his human shield in case a terrorist aimed a gun at him. I totally volunteered for this.
Mechanics will always operate on the plane once you’re onboard.
Seriously. I have been on at least three flights where I am on the plane, texting my friends my ETA, when the pilot announces: “Hi, folks, we’re gonna take off as soon as we can, but we need to tighten one little screw.”
One time they had to replace the engine, or else we wouldn't have AC for the flight. This was the flight with Susan. She whispered, “This happened last week to a plane; they ended up six hours delayed.”
Why don’t you deal with these things before you put people in a confined space?!
I forgot to turn off my laptop.
Before every takeoff, the pilot and stewards insist you power off all large electronic devices, including laptops, and put cell phones in airplane mode. If you don’t, the plane might experience Y2K and plummet from the skies.
They certainly do advise these things, but on my recent flight I totally forgot to turn off my laptop. I didn’t mean to do this; I just forgot I had it in sleep mode. Cue me pulling it out mid-flight and realizing it’s been on the whole time and ohmigawd why aren't we all dead?!?!
The steward will say you’re landing when you’re clearly not.
I can still see the ocean. Our destination is about two hours inland by interstate. What do you mean we’re coming in for landing?!