By Brandon Mercer
Americans love regulations, and we love to hate them.
Possibly no place is better regulated than the interior of an airplane cabin. Security protocol aside, the safety demonstrations, seating, signs, and niceties of flying are borderline absurd.
As we squeeze our 23-inch rumps into 17-inch seats and rub thighs with strangers this holiday season, we invite you to ponder these air travel observations as you fly the wild blue yonder.
If we missed anything that strikes you as ridiculous, silly, or just stupid about air travel, please share in the comments and we’ll add to the list.
FLYING WITH INFANTS:
You have to buckle your seatbelt for take off, landing, or because the pilot just forgets to turn off the Fasten Seatbelts sign, but your beautiful bouncing baby human can just squirm there on your lap for the entire 6 hour flight.
For those without kids, or smart enough to never fly with their kids, let me explain.
Parents do not have to buy a seat for their children under age two. They’re lap humans.
Crazier still? That wonderful Bjorn or other “handsfree” baby hanger is verbotten.
That’s right. You can’t use it, even if it would keep the kid strapped safely to your chest, should the plane suddenly plunge 10,000 feet because of turbulence.
You see newbie parents’ bewildered questions every time a lap human is on the flight: “What do you mean I can’t strap the most precious thing ever to happen in my life into this cozy Bjorn!?!?”
Yep. You’re strapped in. Your kid is not allowed to be. Unless you buy the full seat, and install the carseat on the airplane.
Which you should probably have done in hindsight.
You CAN buy FAA-approved air seats, and air restraint devices that hold them into the seat belt, but the best thing is to buy them their own seat, or see if the airline will let you give them an empty seat, should there be one.
Otherwise, lap human it is. Try to hang on tight during that turbulence.
FLYING WITH PETS: Did you just read the previous slide about lap humans?
Well, for pets, it’s the opposite. They’re usually not ALLOWED to sit on your lap.
“Southwest Airlines allows small vaccinated domestic cats and dogs to travel with you in-cabin under the seat in front of you. All pets must be carried in an appropriate carrier.”
So, they need to stay tucked away in their protective soft kennels, under your seat, but babies can be on your lap.
Maybe you could tuck your baby under your seat. Before you scream and tell me what a terrible dad I am, think about it.
If you can manage to get the kid to sleep, aren’t they safer surrounded by all that foam and padding than flying out of your hands in severe turbulence?
Or, just rescind the no-Bjorn rule. (See previous slide for more).
RETURN TO SEAT SIGNS:
It never fails. The one time I decided I just can’t hold my pee any longer, I’m in the so-called”lavatory,” and as I attempt to aim while rocketing along at 550 miles per hours, the “return to seat” sign comes on.
Which compels me to ask, what is the real purpose of this? If you’re in the middle of your business, are you going to just stop, mid-stream, zip it up and try to hold it in while waddling back to your seat in turbulence?
Obviously everyone to whom this has happened is going to finish their business! And we commend them for their common sense.
But where is the airlines’ common sense?
Alternatively, maybe they really aren’t trying to interrupt your business. Then what?
Is there an issue with folks going into the lavatory, and just hanging out where they have all that room to get comfortable and stretch out?
There’s only one conclusion that makes sense. The mile high club. Think about it– if you’re in there trying to get it on so you can tell your friends you did it, and that light comes on, you could conceivably pause, zip it up, and sheepishly walk back to your seats.
I mean, you can join the mile high club without finishing the act right?
Maybe this light does have a purpose. More likely it’s all about legal liability. The lawyers probably require the airlines to inform you that the fact that you’re bashing your head on the bulkhead during turbulence means you should return to your seat.
And, could someone please clean the gunk off that sign!? Yuck! What IS that!?
DRINK, SIR? It’s the 7 a.m. flight from Burbank to SFO.
I’m on my second coffee, and logged on, clearing emails before my 930.
The go-getter to my left is likewise dressed in his business suit, and tie. By the looks of his laptop and briefcase, he’s definitely also destined for a morning meeting. I assume he’s going with coffee, or maybe Diet Coke.
Rum and coke it is. Times two.
In what WORLD would you ever have a rum and coke before heading into the office?
If you answered THIS world, then you must have been my seat mate.
If you’re a rationale human being with a mortgage and kids to feed, you likely also find this equally ludicrous.
But it’s okay, if you’re at 35,000 feet.
PEANUTS? ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL SOMEONE?!
One day, I was a terrible dad.
In a rush to get my daughter to her field trip, I quickly packed her grapes, a juice box, carrots, and half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
You would have think I showed up at the school with an AK-47.
The audacity of me packing peanuts. PEANUTS! The outrage over this lunch.
The tears after she opened her bag and found what was in it.
The scorn from my wife, then the embarrassed, sad, knowing, slow shaking of her head.
No words could describe my ineptitude.
No, my daughter does NOT have a kid in her class with one of those deathly, “sniff-a-peanut-and-go-into-anaphylactic-shock” things. If she did, I might get it. And if she did, I would appreciate an email or note from the parent of said kid.
No, this is just a rule.
No peanuts anywhere near school.
I have to buy stupidly expensive almond butter or sunflower seed butter (which goes rancid in about 6 minutes) instead.
But on the airplane? No problem!
Peanuts for all! Cram 143 humans into a metal sardine can, and then give them all peanuts.
I assume if you have bad allergies you could alert the airline. I just think it’s an odd thing when America has banned PB&J from schools, but peanuts still rule the airlines.
And make sure you eat them with your seatbelt buckled.
BOARD IN HORDES:
I know Southwest has the fastest boarding system in the world. It just makes no sense. I even watched the 60 Minutes report explaining the science of why it’s faster. I don’t buy it.
I’m always in the end of boarding group B.
Know what that means? Yeah, I’m a middle sitter.
I get to sit and watch 20+ rows of people first ignore someone, then slowly unbuckle their seatbelt, ease themselves out of the 17-inch wide seats.
Next they shuffle around in the aisle, while the middle sitter plops down his backpack, and then hefts his over-stuffed duffel bag into the bin.
He tries this way, then that way, then smashes the shopping bag next to it, and crams it in.
Then he sits down.
Then the original aisle sitter arranges herself, tucks her bag back in, sits down, and slowly re-buckles.
Times 40+ (once for each set of rows, on each side).
Please, can’t we just TRY boarding Window, Middle, Aisle, and see how it goes?
Because I’d like to be on that plane. Just to see if the 60 Minutes report was right that Southwest’s free-for-all is still faster.
HERE’S HOW TO BUCKLE A SEATBELT:
I’ll admit, I actually pay attention to the safety lecture.
I feel like the poor flight attendants are doing a great job and deserve a moment of my attention. And, sometimes, I’ve learned the newer 737s have TWO sets of exit doors over the wings. That’s handy info, should my life depend on it! So I pay attention.
And they never fail to provide helpful information to parents. “Ma’am, just remember, if the oxygen masks come down, put yours on first, THEN your child’s.” It makes sense. If you’re knocked unconscious, no one is going to help you, but if your kid is knocked unconscious and you have your mask on, you can still get them oxygen and keep them alive. Your 6 year old probably won’t think to reciprocate, hence, parents, mask-up first.
But then the lecture gets surreal, “To fasten your seatbelt….”
Do Americans really not grasp this concept? I know it’s a bit different from your car belts, in that you don’t depress a button, but lift a handle, but seriously… “Insert the metal tab into the slot.”
And then they proceed to finish the lecture. “To UNfasten your seatbelt, lift the flap…”
What may be more helpful? Next slide please….