Chris Moss Online

Travel Observations

Just a bit more detail about my travels and some observations while in transit.

I love travelling. My family went places quite a bit, either by car or plane, when I was a kid. I guess that’s why I still like travelling. Hell, I even enjoy going to the airport. Let me know if you ever need a ride.

James & I don’t get to travel together often these days, and the only down side is leaving him (and the boys) behind. But I’m usually only gone a day or two or three, which is a good duration, and minimizes the missing. What’s the saying, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”? It’s always exciting to go somewhere, and coming home is always exciting, too. I get anticipation on both directions of travel 🙂

Anyway, one of the things I like to do when I travel is people watch. These days, that’s getting harder because most people just sit in a seat and chat on their damn phones or tap on their laptops.

One of the first things I noticed is something that just re-affirms my complaint about how little people pay attention to things. When we left Boston, as we were flying into DCA (Washington Reagan, the closest airport to DC) – the flight attendant announced that the FAA does not allow any passenger to stand up for 30 minutes before arrival into DCA. They said they would make an announcement at that time, but no getting up to get a piece of gum out of your bag, no potty breaks, nothing. They also said that if someone does get up, then they are required to divert to Dulles airport in Virginia, which is an hour car ride from DC. It sounds like it has happened before, due to the stern warning. I’ll happily debate with you the value of this rule, but let’s put that aside. Despite the simplicity of the request, the potential implication on 34 other people for one dumb-ass standing up at the wrong time, and the detail they gave about this FAA requirement (not theirs), I overheard another passenger say to his travelmate “what did she say, we’re diverting to Dulles?” She replied “I don’t know.” Fortunately, no one stood up at the wrong time, but I was amazed by their cluelessness. I guess I shouldn’t be.

I wonder how many times they’ve diverted to Dulles and inconvenienced 250 people on a 767 because some idiot absolutely had to get up and grab his cell phone out of his bag 10 minutes before landing? On the trip back to Boston, they announced we were coming into Boston and would be on the ground in 10 minutes. 8 minutes later, some woman got up to go to the bathroom. This sent the flight attendant, who was strapped into her jumpseat, flying down the aisle to have her return. The flight attendant was fairly nice about it. I find it unbelievable. This is why I could never be a flight attendant. I would have opened the door and thrown the lady out to prevent her from reproducing. And it scares me what I might have done had someone done something stupid like that coming in to DC and really caused a diversion to Dulles. Shouldn’t there be a cause of action against a moron like that?

Not only was this woman stupid, she was inconsiderate. I always try to be considerate of others – I try to do my thing and get out of other people’s way. I loathe people who are inconsiderate of others. As we were boarding DCA to Boston flight, I was in boarding group 5. American Airlines boards by group number rather than by row number, since boarding by row number was evidently too complicated for some passengers. There is a huge printed text on your boarding pass advising your boarding group. 1 is for elite passengers, 2 is for those furthest to the rear, 3 next-furtherest to the rear, and so on. It makes a lot of sense and I commend AA for this. Every single time you board an airplane, you will notice people hovering near the gate doorway, and most of these people do not have a low group number. Occasionally, you will see a gate agent turn someone away (I love hearing “I’m sorry sir, we haven’t called that group yet”). You will literally have to ask people if they are in line, because they will get in line hoping their group will be announced before they get to the front. If it doesn’t, they’ll hang back. Suddenly, you realize the person you’ve been behind is just standing there and you have to ask “are you in line?” before going around them. I don’t understand this. We already have seat assignments. It’s so kindergarten. It’s an advance form of cutting in line, and it’s sneaky and underhanded.

Now, I don’t say all this because it really bothers me that they are getting in front of me, because it doesn’t. What bothers me is that this impish behavior tells you a great deal about these peoples’ personality and integrity. I really want to say something to them about it, to sort of “call them” on it, but I would just look petty, because it would certainly appear that way. The reality is, these people most likely cheat on their taxes and lie on a regular basis and I would never trust them at all.

The guy who ended up sitting in the aisle seat in my row (I was in window, center was empty) was one such person. I have a story about him, but I have to preface by explaining that our flight was only about half full and there were a lot of empty seats. One advantage to being a techno-geek and do-it-yourselfer like me is you learn a lot. I either check in on the computer before I leave for the airport (you can print your own boarding pass) or use the self-service check-in kiosks at the airport. Today, I checked in at the kiosk about an hour before flight. Since I was in no hurry, and no one was waiting behind me to use the machine, I pressed the option for “change seat assignment”. This is the first time I’ve done this. It pulls up a real-time seat map, showing available seats. I had a window seat (my preference), and there was someone sitting in the aisle, but the center seat was empty. This was pretty great, but I noticed that three rows back was completely empty. I moved to the window seat on that row, hoping no one else would be on the row and I could really stretch out.

The flight was only about half full, so when boarding the gate agent called for 1, then he called 2 and 3 together, then he called 4 and 5. Well, I saw at least three smarmy guys move towards the line but not quite get in it. My nature prevents me from just going around these people, since they are trying to appear to be in line without actually getting in line, but one hates to assume. Besides, there will be plenty of bin space on the plane, so I don’t really care. Just refer to the bit about what it says about these people, so I’m rolling my eyes a bit. Anyway, this one guy gets in right in front of me and is slowly inching up, with quite a gap between him and the next person in line. Then the gate agent calls groups 6 and 7 (I’m 5) and then he happily advances up, the very next in line after the last announcement. He’s very proud of himself.

Anyway, he ends up being the guy in D (aisle) on my row. I’m not sure, but somehow he got behind me during the walk down the jet bridge. He probably stopped to buy some drugs, I don’t know. So, I sat down in my window seat, took out my book and iPod, and put my briefcase under my seat. I’m expecting no one else will sit in my row, but I will wait until the door is closed before stretching out. Will be nice to shove the briefcase off to the other side of the floor, and use the middle seat to lay my jacket (instead of my lap).

Well, you-know-who comes along and plops down in D, stowing all his crap in the middle seat as he takes an agonizing amount of time to put his carry-on in the overhead, holding up the rest of the boarding passengers (probably leftovers from Group 5 he cut in front of) waiting for him to clear the aisle so they can pass. Great, company.

He leaves all his stuff in the middle seat; he has now claimed it. He might as well have pissed on it like a dog marking his territory. He breaks out his laptop and Blackberry. This is not just to impress those around as he is a busy guy. We push back and they tell us to turn off electronic devices, so I stop the iPod in the seatback. Mr. Busyboy put away his laptop but keeps jacking with his Blackberry. The flight attendant pretends to not see him the first time she passes by, but on the second time (as we’re getting close to the runway), she has to say something to him. He lingers a good 30 seconds before he complies, all the while with the flight attendant standing over him. She never said anything else, just stood there. I don’t understand this, as I would have snatched it out of his hand and thrown it in the air toilet after about 5.

After takeoff, he shoves a sandwich down his throat then reproduces the Blackberry after they announce “it is now safe to use approved portable electronic devices. However, cell phones, 2-way pagers and wireless PDAs may not be used unless the wireless features can be completely disabled.” A Blackberry, for those who don’t know, is essentially a device that allows you to receive and send e-mails (it has a tiny keyboard) via cell phone networks. They’re great and I’d love one, but this is not about that, it is about Mr. YourRulesDon’tApplyToMe. He is jacking with his Blackberry for the entire flight. Now, I concede, Counselor, that it is entirely possible that Mr. Blackberry is reviewing old e-mails that he has previously received the last time he was connected, and is drafting e-mails that will be sent the next time he connects. It’s possible. For 3 hours. Not likely.

Well, the plane didn’t crash so no harm, no foul, but if I were his IRS auditor I’d check those deductions pretty closely.

His inconsiderate behavior didn’t end there. When we landed and were deplaning, he left a plastic bag filled with newspaper and a big styrofoam container that previously held his dinner sitting on the floor of our row where his feet once were. I, of course, had to move it in order to get out. I was very thankful when he headed off in a different direction.

I will probably be lambasted for saying this, as someone will no doubt misinterpret what I type as wishing for a plane crash, but I do hope that the next time there is the horrible occurrence of a plane crash (one in which hopefully no one is injured), that it is later proven the plane went down because some widget salesman from Kalamazoo turned on his cell phone in-flight to call his accountant about some questionable deduction, interfering with the navigation systems.

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