Monday, October 19, 2009

Just Sit Back and Relax, Already!

Call me naive, but generally speaking, I beleive that all people are good at heart  I really do.  But there is something about airplanes that seems to bring out the worst in people, and I just don't get it.  Let me share some examples.

On several occasions I  have been on flights where, upon landing, the captain or flight attendant mentions that some people on the flight have close connections in this city and asks everyone on the plane to please let these folks off of the airplane first.  On at least one occasion, I was one of these people, and because of whether delays I had literally 20 minutes from the moment my first flight landed to the moment my next flight took off - we're not talking got to the gate here, we're talking touched down.  And of course, I happened to be at the very back of the plane.  The captain made his announcement, but, as I've seen on every other similar flight, no one listened.  Everyone rushed for the aisle and took their time getting their bags, while I sweated that I might not make my connecting flight.  As if this wasn't stressful enough already, it happened to be Christmas Eve.  If this were the only time I had experienced this, I might be able to chalk it up to  excitement/stress/anxiety over getting home for the Holidays - but it has happened on other far more mundane days.

I was actually talking to Jason about this very thing as he drove Cy and I to the airport yesterday.  And as if to confirm my assertion that airplane travel makes people rude, I encountered several more examples of unpleasant behavior on our flight.  To fully appreciate these examples, you should know that our flight was 100% full.  Ok, here they are:

1. A woman gets on the flight toward the end of boarding and she is carrying a large, round, hard case.  As she looks around at the overhead bins, searching for somewhere to put her case, the guy sitting across the aisle from me says very loudly  and with attitude, "Ship it next time".  As she continues looking for a place for her case, he says, again loud enough for her to hear, "Come on Lady, just sit down already."

2.  Another woman gets on with a small rolling suitcase and tries to put it in the overhead bin above her seat. There is a laptop case that is clearly small enough to fit under a seat but is making it impossibly for her to fit in her suitcase.  She asks around to find out to whom is belongs and when a guy pipes up, she asks kindly if he can please put it under his seat, where there is nothing being stored.  He replies "There is no room."  They go back and forth about why he can't put it there and the woman ultimately has to check her bag while the man has nothing under the seat in front of him.  Incidentally, she ended up sitting next to him, which I'm sure made for an uncomfortrable flight.

3.  There is a woman sitting behind me with a small child in her lap as well.  Before the flight takes off, both her child and Cyrus are being very good, but are making little babay noises.  The guy sitting across from her says "Wow, I guess we're not going to get any peace on this flight" loudly enough, obviously, that I can hear him.  As if those of us with babies aren't already overly concious of the fact that our babies could be loud and disruptive during a flight, someone has to point it out to us.

Now I suppose it is possible that all three of these people in the above examples are just rude anyway.  However, I don't think it's possible that several airplanes-full of people are rude in their every day life.  And I like to think that those three people sitting near me are also kind at some point in their lives.  So if that is the case, then what is it about airplanes that makes people say and/or do things that make others' lives more difficult or make others feel bad.  Is it the anxiety of flying?  Is it the fact that you are likley to never see these people again?  And, does a full flight lead to more anxiety and thus to more abandoning of basic human decency?  I don't know the answer.  But I do know that I now make a concious effort to smile to parents when their kids are being loud or taking a long time, to only put large items in the overhead compartment and wait to put my jacket in until the end, and to allow those folks with connecting flights to get off first.  Above all else, I try to keep my comments to myself so that, at the very least, I don't make someone feel bad.

Has anyone else noticed this airplane phenomenon?  Does anyone have any insight into what might make it so? 


  1. First, I've really enjoyed reading your posts over the past few weeks, though I don't think I've commented yet. :)

    Thankfully, I have been impressed at how well people have acted towards me and my baby as we have flown together. It does irk me when people act so inappropriately. Especially towards parents with young children. You can help having a bag to stow, but you can't help having your kid with you. And even when I have been ultra prepared and even helped with other kids sitting near me by sharing toys and snacks, we have our fussy moments. I hope your flight went well otherwise!

  2. Yeah, wow, we've done plenty of flying with kids and it isn't fun, even without the rude people. I think it's like you said, they know we'll never see them again. I think the fact that we pay more for the tickets these days, and for every little service, and the leg room just keeps decreasing, etc...Everyone is just on edge. Like you, I try to smile a lot (or cry. That happens sometimes, too).


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