The Friendly Skies

This is not going to be a popular post, but I gotta get it off my chest.

The holidays brings one of my biggest pet peeves to light, and I really don’t want to offend anyone, but sadly, I read the status updates of my friends, and my friends (maybe) read this blog, so it’s pretty inevitable that I’m biting the hand that reads me, BUT I HAVE COME TO TEACH YOU THE LIGHT.

If you know me, you know I get surly about a lot of things. Tyler recently had to massage me like a boxer because he KNEW I was about to dive through the tiny Post Office window and strangle the woman who had lost my package after waiting in a 40-minute line. Let me also say that I agree people are entitled to a certain level of service when they are paying top dollar for said service. But sometimes there’s no way to win and these threats make me so tired. So tired.

I’m talking about air travel. I’m talking specifically about the phrase “I am NEVAR flying Scamp Airlines UH-GAIN! #sorude #mylifeishard”

Let’s go over a few common complaints.

“A flight attendant yelled at me. NEVAR AGAIN.”
Listen. With connecting flights taken into consideration over 32 years, I’ve probably been on 500 planes in my lifetime. I have NEVER been yelled at by a flight attendant, so I can only imagine if you’re being put in your place, as Jack Reacher would say if he were a Flight Attendant, you probably deserve it.

Are you texting someone at 30,000 feet? Playing Angry Birds while your seat is reclined during taxi? Is your coat taking up 3 rows worth of overhead space? Did you try to fit your barcalounger into the overhead compartment? Is your iPhone actually off but the headphones are still in your ears because you’re begging someone to ask you to turn it off just so you can show them it’s off because you’re a huge douche?

Yes, some rules are a bit silly. As Ellen once joked, that 1/2 inch of reclining-seat angle isn’t the difference between safety and death. But just because you paid money doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. Don’t stand up on a moving bus. Don’t use a McDonald’s Playplace as a restroom. Some rules are there for your and others’ safety. Is it that hard to do something someone else says for a few hours?

There is always the chance if a flight attendant is rude to you that they’re just a rude person. It sucks if this happened to you, but it’s not really the airline’s fault or indicative of every other employee. And if the flight attendant IS a nutjob? Call and register a complaint. Just keep in mind, if you say, “Stewardess was totally a meanie when she told me to turn off Words With Friends on our descent from the sky,” you’ll likely be voted most idiotic caller at the Call Center bar later that night.

“I’ve been stuck in Jersey for 8 days. No food or water. Send help.”
Everyone who travels has been here, and it stinks. Keep in mind, the majority of the time, a flight is delayed for 30 minutes to an hour, and there’s not much you can do about it, sadly. Your plane is delayed in another city, or you’ve landed but are stuck on the runway because no gates are open. It’s definitely frustrating, but who makes hard-and-fast plans within an hour of a plane landing? You gotta account for some things, son.

I do feel bad when it’s hours upon hours, which you hear of every once in a while. If it’s due to weather, though, there’s not much anyone can do, so threatening to never fly X Airlines again is a bit of an empty threat considering every airline is grounded — or at least the ones to and from your destination.

Not a lot of people think of this, but if you live in a place with more than one airport within driving distance, you can sometimes check the monitors for your same airline going to nearby airports and see if you can get on standby. Useful if you’re getting picked up in LA, Chicago, and New York, not great in South Dakota, but I’m trying to give you options here.

“UGH, another mechanical failure. EVERY TIEM.”

HOW ABOUT “THANK YOU FOR NOT LETTING ME RIDE IN A BROKEN PLANE,” YOU UNGRATEFUL CRETIN?

“Maybe if they didn’t oversell the flights, they wouldn’t have to kick people off.”
I get that this can be frustrating, but they have algorithms. People miss flights for whatever reason all. the. time. Illness, last-minute change-of-plans, slept in, tons of things. When you’re looking for a flight online and there is 1 seat left but they mysteriously can’t assign you an exact seat number, you should be THANKFUL for this algorithm.

Now, yes, unfortunately, sometimes the algorithm is wrong and of a predicted 3 people to get sick and miss the flight, only 2 did, leaving Judy the bridesmaid trying to get to her sister’s wedding before she gives birth and Jimmy the over-entitled businessman to have a crying contest at the gate over who deserves the seat more.

As you might know, they sometimes offer a cash reward in addition to a free flight on the next plane out in the hopes that someone else will get off, allowing the two precious snowflakes to keep their prized airline seat. If your plans are flexible, this is usually a pretty good deal, although the reward used to be higher before they remembered they could just pull the “fine print” card and kick off whoever they pleased.

My point is they have to overbook. It probably works in your favor a lot of the time. And take the cash reward. Everyone wins! Probably!

“They lost my luggage!”
I’m with you on this one. Pretty much no excuse for this to happen, and when it does, make sure they have a courier to bring it to you at your destination, rather than schlepping back to the airport yourself.

It really shouldn’t be lost FOREVER though, if you have your address written on a paper within the checked bags themselves. Which you should.

“I’m never flying Scamp Airlines again!”
Let’s be honest about a few things. Unless you are a skillionaire, if Scamp Airlines is the lowest fare and/or the only fare that will get you to your destination within a week of your desired time, you will fly Scamp Airlines again. I don’t know who you’re trying to frighten with your FB threats, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Next, is the reason you’re never flying X Airlines again because someone was rude? If there’s a cyborg airline out there, I’m willing to give it a shot, but until then, you run the risk of having a jerk somewhere along the line. That’s the crapshoot of ever leaving the house!

Is the reason you’re never flying X Airlines because they’re “always” late? These days, no first-world airline is always late. Check here. Air traffic control is not owned by any specific airline, so when the planes are ready to takeoff, they’re put in a line and they take off. There’s no secret conspiracy of pilots falling asleep in the Swanky Pilots’ Lounge (does not exist) and then sprinting, comically late to the plane, like Catherine O’Hara.

Want to know why some flights are late sometimes?

  • The plane’s wings needed to be de-iced. (Again, THANK YOU, AIRLINE!)
  • Mechanical failure. (Ditto.)
  • The crew was late coming in on another plane. (Sorrz. Until some network comes up with this reality show, regular passengers can’t try their hands at piloting aircraft. Also, off-duty crew don’t hang out at airports hoping for an extra gig.)
  • According to the manifest, some passengers are late from a connecting flight, but they’re sprinting through the airport, and they’re almost there! (Possibly annoying UNTIL IT’S YOU.)
  • Bad weather in departure city. Or arrival city. Or city of arrival where the plane is coming from before it gets to you. (Take it up with your higher power of choice.)
  • Flight attendants are snickering outside the Cinnabon, twisting their dastardly moustaches and — AWWW, YOU GOT ME TO ADMIT IT. DON’T TELL THEM I TOLD YOU.

Seriously, do you think these pilots and flight attendants don’t want to get home and see THEIR families? And relax on THEIR time? Your melodramatic sighs are echoed tenfold on the flight deck, pal, I can assure you.

Let’s all just calm down and marvel at the fact that humans can barrel through the sky at hundreds of miles an hour. Yes, flying is expensive. Sometimes a Ferrari needs a tune-up, or a mansion needs a plumber. Bring a book! Take a nap! Be happy!

Finally, I’ll conclude by saying there’s no reason you shouldn’t take a stand and refuse to patronize a business if it’s what you need to do. I refuse to go to BP because they ruined the ocean and were jerks about it, and if I were on fumes, I’d break down out front of their station and call AAA. But with air travel, in the end, who are you really sticking it to by no longer flying Scamp Airlines after one or two rude experiences or drawn-out delays if they’re the most affordable and convenient option to you? Ricky the Rude Flight Attendant isn’t crying any tears because you didn’t hop on his plane twice. You’re just leaving more seats open for, well, me.

Scamp is my cat, by the way. Just in case you’re new here.

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