Whatever happened to airplane courtesy, indeed ... Rude passengers still reign
Funny to go to the USA Today Travel website this morning and see the headline "Courtesy in the skies is gone..."
Funny, kind of, because I was thinking the same thing Saturday on my way back home from lovely Jamaica. I had asked for an aisle seat when I booked my ticket but ended up at a window seat. No big deal. I was in the row in front of the emergency exit row. At first I thought that might be good as I could recline my seat without bothering someone behind me.
Not to sound like a saint, but I'm always mindful about not pushing my seat back too far. And, when I do recline it, I try to do it quite slowly so I don't spill the guy's coffee all over his new Gap chinos. The trouble, however, is that when you're in the row in front of the emergency exit row the seats don't recline; almost certainly because they might block the exit row. Which would be a bad thing.
Okay, it's four-hours so that's not too bad. Unfortunately, I happened to be on an Air Canada plane that didn't have televisions in the seatbacks. I thought ALL their planes had them; one of Air Canada's few points of differentiation from the competition. But the flight attendant said my plane was one of two in a fleet of 200-plus planes (I think that's what he said) that didn't have them.
I tried typing a bit but it was pretty cramped, so I read some magazines and gazed out at the window at Cuba and the Bahamas and the coast of Florida off in the distance. Then, some guy about my age (mid-50's) decided to amuse himself with a small video game on his cell phone.
It obviously was some sort of dice game, as every 10 seconds or so I could hear this tinkly/chunky sound like dice in a cup. Every 30 seconds or thereabouts the little machine emitted the sound of a woman's voice crying "Jack!" Not to disrupt my reputation as a family-friendly blogger, but it sounded like someone shouting out her lover's name in mid-orgasm.
About every three or four minutes, the machine would vary the sound and emit something that sounded like "Waaahhh-waaaahhh," as if the guy had just bet the house on a pair of three's and got smoked by the good-looking guy in the tuxedo holding a royal flush. Or maybe it was an excerpt from the old "Debbie Downer" skit on Saturday Night Live.
Did this game-playing go on for five or ten minutes? No. This went on for nearly two hours. I put in my ear plugs and tried to sleep. I forked out $7 for a glass of red wine (and while you're at it, Air Canada, how about an upgrade from that French plonk you serve?) Still, even with the wine and the handy-dandy Shoppers Drug Mart silicon earplugs guaranteed to block 25 decibels I could hear the woman crying out and the stupid "waaaahhh-waaaahhh."
"Ahem," I said out loud a couple of times.
"Excuse me," I said quietly a couple of times, fidgeting in my seat.
No response from the dude with the mustache.
How anyone over the age of 16 can play a video game is utterly beyond me to begin with. Mindless wastes of time, they are. But to play one out loud in a cramped, metal tube at 35,000 feet with people all around you is the height of moronic, classless behaviour.
Buy some headphones, people. Or better yet, learn to read or sleep or watch Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell for the fourth time. I don't care, but PLEASE don't subject the rest of us to your mindless entertainment.
To get back to the USA Today piece, they quoted flight attendant Kelly Skyles as saying passengers don't understand they're not the only people on a plane.
"Passengers come on board, and it's all about them," says Skyles, who is a national safety and security coordinator for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants union. "I realize in our society it has come to be like that, but space is very limited, it's confined and it's shared."
The story also cited what flight attendants consider pet peeves, such as folks who bring bags on board that they're unable to lift or people who think the "please turn off your electronic equipment" messages are meant for everyone but them.
They also, apparently, don't like it when passengers dangle their legs or arms in the aisle when the food cart comes. I'm guilty of that when I have an aisle seat, but that's why I get an aisle seat; so I don't have to sit upright with my arms folded for four hours. If I see the cart coming at me, of course I'll get out of the way. But often the flight crew comes up behind me with the cart and I can't see it and they don't say "excuse me, coming through" and I get my foot stepped on or my elbow whacked.
Crew members also don't like it when folks congregrate near the washrooms or the galleys to stretch during a long flight. Well, EXCUSE ME! I have huge sympathy for flight attendants who put up with rude customers and idiot behaviour. I also think teachers are vastly underpaid and that cops deserve all the overtime they can get.
But where am I supposed to stretch my legs on a plane if I don't do it near the washroom or the galley? I don't hang out there for a half-hour at a time and get in their way while they pour lousy wine and serve up their Quizno's sandwiches and those little bags of apples, but I do take two or three minutes to stretch when I get up. I guess I should stay in my tiny, cramped seat that doesn't recline and watch Date Night for the FIFTH time and sit next to the woman who didn't shower and the guy with the iPod orgasm machine and not bother the flight attendants.
Happy Tuesday, everyone.
My God, people, have your ever heard of