Wednesday, May 23, 2012


What Rules?

Rant Alert!
As readers of this little blog well know I frankly adore most of the folks who devote their careers to the travel and hospitality industry. It has to be difficult to keep a positive outlook when working with an increasingly rude, almost pathetically juvenile, and frequently openly defiant public.

Over my thirty plus years of travel I have lost count of the amazing examples of thoughtfulness demonstrated by flight crews, hotel employees, rail stewards, even some taxi drivers.

A whole bunch of these folks start work at the crack of dawn, some remaining throughout the whole night to make sure that families, our armed forces, lost souls, and road warriors alike all arrive and thrive in frequently unfamiliar settings.

So with the preface above, and based solely on one little round trip today, I find myself offering up a few troubling observations.

Bag limits, big bottles, and trips to the backscatter.....

When the public approaches any TSA checkpoint we ticket buyers are held to rigid numbers of bags, limits on travel fluids, and unless pregnant or in the company of a small child, will almost always be ushered into some form of x-ray or wave device.

Now, having said that, I defy you to name any successful industry where customer service employees are accorded clearly preferential treatment over their very best customers.

Give up? Well think about it the next time you've endured a 45 minute wait at an understaffed TSA checkpoint only to have a late flight attendant blow by you in line. They then proceed to the front of the nearest screening line and shove some customers stuff back on the belt in order to jam their 3 bags and full liter of fluids into the mouth of the x-ray device.

I've had it happen with a lot more frequency lately. I used to at least get a smile or a "may I cut in?" Now days, many clearly feel entitled. 

And, of course, no backscatter for them, as the TSA almost always waives them right on through the old metal detector while the rest of us, hands over heads, get herded into the electronic stripper pole.

Turn the damned thing off

Then there is the infamous phone and electronics rule...

On most flights the attendants still warn that "anything with an on and off switch" must be switched off once the airplane door is closed.

Silly me, I take that whole cell phone thing seriously having read some compelling documents that suggest that our precious little gizmo's do indeed have the potential to actually screw with on-board aviation electronics.

One research piece noted that airlines now assume that an average of 17 devices will be running and transmitting signals during every take off and landing. Thats not too comforting....

So when I see passengers go to great links to hide their switched on phones from flight attendants only to produce them and continue using them on the runway, well I become one of those annoying fellow passengers that is willing to actually say something.

Take this morning....

On my PHX to LAX flight, I counted three out of the 12 people in the two exit rows working on fully enabled smartphones just typing away from taxi to just before take off.

One kept right on facebooking even as the engines revved and we rolled for lift off.

So, I reached over, tapped her designer draped shoulder, and in my best "dad" voice simply told her to "switch off the phone". There was no "please" in my preface.

She shrugged her shoulder wildly, not unlike a child. I earned a hiss that would make any reptile proud "don't you dare touch me!"

She then informed her seatmate that, "I used to be a flight attendant - I think I know what I'm doing."

Somehow she completely mistook me as someone who gave a rats backside what she thought about anything.

Her pride and self esteem were subterranean factors to me at the moment. What I solely cared about is she switch off her damned I-Phone.

Hey, the kids are fine. It takes a village to raise an adult.

Then it just gets better...

Almost as reptile lady's hiss is fading the flight attendant does a PA bark "Sir! You must sit down!"

We all turn and watch as some nig nog clutching his venti Starbucks cup scissor steps to the back of the plane shrieking "I've got to go, ITS AN EMERGENCY!"

I can see my brain as my eyes roll up deeply into the top of my head.

Fast forward to the end of the day.

I am now retracing my steps returning home to PHX on US Airways FLT 500.

What a perfect stroke of luck as I see reptile cell phone lady standing in line with her seatmate. I whisper a prayer that I will be seated nowhere near her.

Just then I get PA'd to collect my upgrade to seat 1F.

I am very happy. This was a last minute booking, so I missed the normal upgrade cue.

As road warriors all know, seat 1D and 1F are the only two seats on the whole airbus where you can see the forward flight attendants in their jump seats.

And, as we roll westward and lift off over the azure blue Pacific I watch both flight attendants each pounding away on their fully enabled smartphones "bidding" for their upcoming shifts....

They did switch them off. Just a little before we reached 10,000 feet.

Roadboy's Travels © 2012

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