Top Five List of Things You Don't Want to Hear in the Airport or on a Plane

What are the worst things you could hear on a plane?

I don’t mean the obvious ones, where words like “hijack” or “gun” figure prominently. I’m talking about everyday awfulness. My personal favorite?

“Do you know who I am?”

You often hear this – “Do you know who I am?” – from the lips of famous-for-no-reason celebrities. Real stars behave better (besides, when do they fly commercial?). Sometimes, though, the speaker is just an overly-entitled coach commoner.

According to legend, one time when a flight attendant got the “DYKWIA?” treatment for the umpteenth time, she responded by saying, no, she didn’t know who the person was, but if she could just have a peek at the imperious one’s boarding pass, the mystery would be solved.

Sure hope that story’s true.

So, what else do you not want to hear in the airport or on a plane? Try these:

1. “They’re serving booze on this Aeroflot flight”

This is not good news: Aeroflot has been the scene of spectacular alcohol-related incidents over the years. Remember the drunk who announced he’d seized control of the plane (he wound up locked in the lavatory). And let us not forget that shaky Aeroflot pilot who couldn’t stop slurring his words.

Incidents like this explain why the Russian airline now bans alcohol on many of its long-haul flights.

2. “Sure, I can find you good reading material on this Spirit plane”

The problem with this one is, you might be handed a barf bag – or sent to the lavatory. These are just some of the many places the ingenious marketing folks at Spirit Airlines are selling as ad space. The airline touts its lavatory door panels this way: “Talk about a captive audience! You will get our customers’ undivided attention!”

Uh-huh. They also say air-sickness bags are great for “consumer offer/coupon” opportunities. Maybe we’ll see ads this on barf bags of the future: “We warned you about McDonald’s – get a dollar off on your next Whopper – Love, Burger King”.

3. “I think this tuna fish is still good”

You don’t want to hear this in the boarding area, because you might wind up sitting next to this brown-bagger – and the aroma of faded fish could make for a very long flight.

By all means, bring your own lunch and avoid the airline fees for food, but planes are not particularly roomy (or well-ventilated) so please, don’t bring stinky stuff like hard-boiled eggs, Camembert cheese, or well-aged seafood. Passengers in the fourteen rows in front and behind your lunch will thank you.

4. ” Grandpa is always this quiet, always this cold”

Maybe Grandpa really is a taciturn sort – or maybe Grandpa is dead. That was the case earlier this year when a couple of women apparently tried to save money on shipping remains by purchasing an airline ticket for a corpse. The plan didn’t work (apparently Grandpa didn’t look so hot), so no one ended up with an eerily silent seatmate.

But – if you had a choice of between sitting next to a body or a screaming baby – which would you choose?

5. “That flight attendant isn’t working hard enough”

Okay, forget the extra pack of peanuts, and no, you won’t get the entire can of Diet Coke – not with comments like that. You see, a lot of flight attendants are sick of their jobs because they do work hard yet still get the constant carping.

However, it’s true that some flight attendants are more “customer service-challenged” than others. Here’s a story from a FareCompare reader (and wouldn’t you know, it involves an Aeroflot flight attendant):

“Several years ago on a flight from Zurich to Moscow,” wrote our flier, “I told [an Aeroflot] stewardess that my seat belt was broken. Her response was not to worry since if we crashed we would all die anyway.”

I am sure she was only kidding.


Published: June 4, 2010