Galley Gossip: Enforcing rules in flight!

Hi Heather,

I listened to your Frommers podcast recently and found it very funny. I especially liked your comments about people’s attitudes to flying and the bit about control freaks. It made me realize what I’ve suspected for some time which is that I am a control freak, especially when flying!

My last trip a couple of weeks ago I ended up shouting halfway up the plane at another passenger who got up to stroll to the toilets when the seat belt signs were on. They were the latest in a line of many and had also stopped to have a little chat with their mates on the way back. Being British I get a bit huffy about people not following instructions, I think it’s a national quirk, and, normally being British I might just have carried on muttering to the lady next to me along the lines of “Well really, can people not read, what’s the point of putting the signs on, what are the crew doing about it, nothing etc etc”. But it was a miserable flight in economy on Continental across the Atlantic and the fact that I’d unexpectedly just had to pay 5$ for a bottle of white wine vinegar was doing nothing to improve my temper.

I’d like to report that the effect of my outburst was instantaneous, that the guilty party sat down and no one else got up. Sadly she just shouted back “I’ll go to the toilet when I want to, thank you VERY much.” Everyone between her and me on the flight went quiet and I just felt like a right idiot. I bought another bottle of white wine vinegar and fumed quietly for a bit, half wishing we’d hit a bit of turbulence next time someone got up when the signs were on, “to teach them a lesson.” How sad is that! Next time I’ll do as you suggest and try and relax more!


Marie B.

Dear Marie,

Your letter cracked me up and now you’ve got me thinking that I may have been British in a past life or something because I, too, am a bit of a rule follower. Nothing drives me crazier than a passenger who thinks they’re exempt from following the rules. Really, how many times do I have to ask someone to turn off the electronic device before takeoff? Hello, Mr. Exit Row, I know what you’re doing all bent over like that with your head crammed between your knees. Do ya really think that I think you’re whispering to the floor? Please, do me a favor and don’t make tap, tap, tap you in front of your seatmates who are now giving you the evil eye. I mean really!

On a flight years ago I spotted a woman speaking on her cell phone AFTER the safety video had ended while we taxied to the runway. Without thinking twice I told her to turn it off. My husband, now completely mortified, slunk down in his seat. Why? I wasn’t wearing my uniform. I was a passenger. The one not following the rules gave me a dirty look and continued talking on the phone. That’s when I embarrassed my husband even more by unzipping my tote, pulling out my crew ID and flashing it at her. Abruptly the call ended. So ya see, Marie, we have a lot in common. Looks like we both need to take my advice and relax.

On a flight from New York to Los Angeles last week, the seat belt sign turned on and a passenger decided that that would be the perfect time to stand in the aisle with a newborn baby in his arms. A flight attendant passed through doing a compliance check and politely told the passenger that the seat belt sign was on and to take a seat. The dad smiled and started doing the bouncy bounce. Five minutes later he sat back down. It took everything inside of me not to say anything to the man. Once again I wasn’t in uniform. Also, I had promised my husband I’d never flash my badge off duty ever again. So I sat there thinking, what’s wrong with people!

Between you and I – okay fine, you and I and all of Gadling, I’m glad there are passengers like you, Marie. Next time you’re one of my flights, I’d like to buy you a bottle of overpriced white wine vinegar – vinegar? Until then take care, try to relax, and know I’ll be thinking about you on my flight next week when that passenger, there’s always one, decides to break the rules.


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Photos courtesy of Caribb and Shreyans Bhansali