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       If you're traveling by air, the last place you want to spend any time is at an airport. You want to get on your flight, make your connections, and arrive at your destination with a minimum of hassles. But the best laid plans….

       Right now, there's a viral video out that's been getting a lot attention over the last few days. Richard Dunn got bumped off two consecutive Delta Airlines flights, and spent the night at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Armed with an iPhone, a lot of ingenuity, and plenty of time, he created an epic video with the Celine Dion cover of "All By Myself" for a soundtrack.

All by myself from Richard Dunn on Vimeo.

At five minutes, 20 seconds, it's both more compelling and better crafted than "The Terminal" - and a lot quicker to get through. Follow me past the Orange Omnilepticon and prepare to share tales of airport doom.

          The whole idea of an airport is that you'e just passing through. There are modest creature comforts - shops, food, seating areas, etc. - but you're not expected to linger for too long. You can't casually go out and go elsewhere if you've got time on your hands, not without having to pass through security. There's also the infomercial effect: most airports are seen as marketing tools for their communities, attempting to entice you to local attractions and businesses, or divert you with exhibits of art and such, usually with a local theme. And it's usually wrapped in architecture that invokes the intimate warmth of a shopping mall, albeit with more windows and planes parked outside. If you want or need some personal space for any length of time, good luck.

        To make it even more fun, odds are if you are flying anywhere, you'll have to go through several airports on your trip because of the hub and spoke system. Usual procedure is, your flight will arrive on one side of a massive, sprawling terminal, and your departing flight will be on the opposite side - with minimal time to get there. If your connecting flight is there at all, that is. Anything that interferes with traffic to and from the hub to anywhere can quickly affect everything else that connects to the hub. (Another name for a hub is choke point… Also, see domino effect.)

       Recently, I and my traveling companion had the 'pleasure of overnighting at Washington National in D.C. because of weather. We got in okay, but our connecting flight out got canceled while we waited - and they'd already put our checked bags on the last plane that was going to that airport. (You and your bags don't always fly on the same plane! If there's anything critical you need, carry it on with you. And pack some survival gear, like a change of clothes and minimal toiletries if you can.)

      There's one thing about Washington National - the D.C. Metro goes right past the terminal. We hopped on a train and were quickly at Arlington National Cemetery where we spent a few hours walking around. We could easily have seen the rest of the city, but things were shutting down by then so we went back to the airport. We couldn't get back in to the secured areas, because an item we'd bought as a gift just before boarding our original flight wasn't permitted back in! We hadn't realized that, when we had gone out. It was only thanks to the kindness of a volunteer at the military courtesy room that we didn't have to throw it away - he mailed it ahead for us.

       We ended up spending the night on hard wooden benches in the minuscule multi-faith chapel. At least it was an enclosed space, and didn't have the automated messages blaring away every few minutes. ("…Do not leave your luggage unattended. Passengers should stay in touch with their belongings at all time … If you or someone traveling with you has been given a package to carry by someone…) We figured a few hours in a hotel wasn't worth it, not with having to scramble back for an early flight out. We eventually caught up with our luggage, which apparently had an uneventful time of it.

     And of course, we got stranded overnight at Washington National on the trip back.

      In some ways it was not quite as stressing as a flight we made to England some years earlier. IIRC, we arrived at Heathrow just after it had had a massive melt down. Torrential rains had canceled hundreds of flights across the country, and Heathrow's baggage handling system had been swamped - including hundreds of bags that had gotten left out on the ramp in the rain. We got our flight out, but our bags didn't catch up with us for nearly a week - and were delivered NOT to the address we had requested. The airline had given us a small allowance for necessaries, but it was not fun. Again - anything you can't live without, keep it with you.

     The modern era is slightly tempered by smart phones, tablets, and laptops. IF you can get an internet connection or a phone signal, you can keep in touch with people who have to know where you are, look for travel alternatives, and find out stuff the people at the airline counters don't know or can't tell you.

     The problem is, connecting to the Internet can be problematic. Increasingly airports seem to regard WIFI access as a cash cow. You may end up having to pay through the nose for access - if you can find a hot spot. It can be pretty risky too, as this NPR news story reports.

Despite the fact that every major Internet provider has added some kind of encryption to its services over the past year, tracking your online traffic is easier than you think.

And you don't have to be the target of the hacker or the NSA for your traffic to be intercepted. There is a hole in mobile security that could make tens of millions of Americans vulnerable.

Unsecure Wi-Fi networks have been a well-known vulnerability in the tech industry for years. They can let even the most unsophisticated hacker capture your traffic and possibly steal your identity.

       There's a number of related stories here at NPR, all of them worth a look.

       So, it's not just your luggage you have to worry about losing these days - it's also your identity. For a lot of people, one of the hard parts about traveling is being out of touch, never more so than now in the information age. One more thing to worry about.

       So, have you got any airport horror stories to share? Amusing anecdotes? Survival tips? Feel free to pass them on in comments. While you're at it, you might want to consider signing up with these guys - because it's always good to have a Plan B available. And you might want to do something about these idiots before they cripple the country further.


When it comes to flying anywhere these days….

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| 81 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (27+ / 0-)

    The guy who said "It's the journey, not the destination" was never trapped between flights at an airport.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 10:24:37 AM PDT

  •  I've flown so seldom... (6+ / 0-)

    ...I sort of feel relieved. But I remember one trip, that many probably never enjoyed: a ride from Waukegan Memorial Airport on the Goodyear Blimp America back in the mid-70's. No TSA lines then!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 10:46:54 AM PDT

  •  Self-Loading Cargo Gets No respect n/t (9+ / 0-)

    "A famous person once said, 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.' But as I once said, "If you don't teach them to read, you can fool them whenever you like." – Max Headroom

    by midnight lurker on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 11:03:08 AM PDT

  •  I avoid it whenever possible (7+ / 0-)

    If I'm going less than 400 miles I'll generally drive.

    If I have to go further I'll try to jumpseat on one of our cargo planes rather than fly commercial.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 11:07:19 AM PDT

  •  There's nothing quite like the feeling (7+ / 0-)

    of waking up (if you can call it that, because you were never fully unconscious) on the thin domestic airport carpet on top of concrete (you started on the seats to avoid laying where shoes from every corner of the earth dropped their dirt, but they are designed to prevent you from feeling comfortable laying down so you migrated in between fitful bouts of sleep), still wearing the same clothes you had on the day before during your long flight, with the residue of close-quarters air-sharing stuck to each garment and your skin and hair. And you catch the suddenly nauseating whiff of nachos from a few gates away. And to think you get to cram into another pressurized cannister first thing, lucky you!

    Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

    by bull8807 on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 11:47:20 AM PDT

    •  Oh, and here's my suggestions: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Aunt Pat, Calamity Jean, Simplify

      Keep a clean pair of underwear, a mini deodorant, a small handcloth, and a tiny bottle of face wash in your carry-on for emergencies. It's amazing how much better you'll feel with a clean face and underwear. You can also do a spot sponge bath with the cloth if you're at the point where you can smell yourself. I also make sure to wear a sweatshirt on flights even if it's warm just in case I end up needing a pillow/blanket/padding to stuff between my spine and a chair/something to cover my purse from public view while I sleep.

      I also always pack these things too because being without them can turn a challenging situation into misery. Also I almost always travel alone:
      - chapstick
      - tons of Kleenex
      - nuts (high amount of protein in a tiny package, also nuts are marked up 300% if you buy them at the airport)
      - pre-wetted handwipes (for self and questionable surfaces)
      - a tiny collapsible hairbrush/mirror combo with extra hair elastic
      - extra long phone charger cord (because the comfortable spots are never near electrical outlets)
      - money in a form that can be used/exchanged for currency anywhere in the world. Sometimes your cards won't work when you want them to even when they're supposed to. Carry on your person in your sock, not in your bags or pockets. Remember that pick pockets make their living off public transit hubs. The hardest type of bag to pick pocket is a small cross-body bag carried in front of you, with your hand on the zipper closure in crowded spaces (or a twist caribiner to secure it). Keep enough coins in your purse/pocket to make multiple long distance phone calls without breaking your bills.
      - pertinent info written down on a piece of paper in case electronics can't be charged. Flight times and confirmation numbers, address of destination, phone numbers of people at home and at destination to call for help.
      - earplugs
      - novel by favorite author
      - pen and memo pad
      - glasses (usually I just travel with them on, contacts dry my eyes out on planes).

      I have realized throughout my travels that you are allowed both a carry-on bag and a small personal bag. I bring a cloth tote bag that can be stuffed under the seat in front of me, packed with my laptop case and another small bag with all the little stuff. There is enough room in the tote bag for a water bottle, sweatshirt, some food and magazines, and my purse so I can carry all my stuff in one bag when needed and have both hands free to deal with getting checked luggage without leaving anything unattended.

      Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

      by bull8807 on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 12:51:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've got an iOS app that helps. (6+ / 0-)

        It plays a constantly varying rain/thunderstorm (complete with simulated lightning flashes if you want), and it comes with a selection of different storm recordings. (Freaking awesome sound quality with headphones.)  Thunderspace.

        It's a great way to drown out ambient noises with natural sounds, and an aid to catching some sleep.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 02:04:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes things work out much better (8+ / 0-)

    I've actually had some good experiences, mostly by remaining flexible. Once I took a voluntary bump from an overbooked flight (on my way home, with nothing requiring me to get home that night), which meant a short night at a hotel (at their expense). The gate people asked if they could get the flight loaded and out before dealing with us bumpees -- sure, we were in no hurry. But I did ask nicely if there was any way they could retrieve my checked bag, one of the standard black wheeled things but at least I'd put a bright blue yarn bow on it. They did manage to grab it before the flight left, so I had my toothbrush and clean clothes. And the next morning we were booked in first class on the early flight out.

    I appreciate the airports with local quirky shops, museum displays, and even local restaurants, rather than the chains that are the same all over the world.

    •  I have had luck being bumped: (6+ / 0-)

      Don't know if it is karma but on several occasions when I volunteered to be bumped (in exchange for a free ticket or voucher) I ended up being home at nearly the same time - or one time, even earlier than I would have been.

      I don't much enjoy the lines and the self-aware people in airports. I do like wandering up and down terminals, thinking about which places I would like to visit if given the choice to get on any plane.

      I still look out the window on every flight, despite 35 years of flying at least 6 times a year. I feel like I owe it to all the generations of people that dreamed of flying.

      I know it isn't cool to say that I enjoy it, but if everything goes semi close to schedule, I still sort of do.

      Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick: The "party of Jesus" wouldn't invite him to their convention - fearing his "platform."

      by 4CasandChlo on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 02:32:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  me too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Never been bumped, but I do enjoy flying, even if only a few times a year.  

        "I feel like I owe it to all the generations of people that dreamed of flying."  Exactly right.

        We walk into this huge building, go through about an hour or two of mild inconvenience (really: "lugging a suitcase," "standing in a line," and "taking off your shoes", compared to weeks aboard a Conestoga wagon, "no washing or sanitation provided"?), but along the way we get to see people from all over the world coming and going, and we get to peek at the cool infrastructure on the runways.  Then we sit for a bit and watch something that previous generations would have thought miraculous: jet airplanes taking off and landing as if it's the most routine thing in the world, which for the most part it is.

        Then we climb into one of those jets and sit down.  Scrunched a bit, admittedly, but none the less: a relatively comfy place to be, considering the enormous forces that come into play to hurtle 200 or so of us down a runway and launch us into the sky, lift us above the clouds, and take us thousands of miles in mere hours.  Along the way we have decent food, beverages, bathrooms, and various amusements, as well as an almost God's-eye-view of the Earth.  

        At the other end, another half hour or so of waiting for luggage, and then we're on our way to wherever, via ground transport that's warm when the outside air is frigid, and cool when the outside air is broiling.  

        All in all, thousands of miles covered with only a bit of standing, a bit of walking, and a bunch of sitting.

        Were it not for the degree to which consumer culture turns people into spoiled brats, we would all be giving thanks & praise for the fact that air travel works so well, so safely, and so routinely.  But we really should give thanks, every time.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 12:26:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have always thought (5+ / 0-)

    That a vending machine, loaded with socks, underwear, tshirts, and a bag of basics, (toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, soap, deodorant), would do very well a major airports.

    I used to commute from YVR to Milwaukee, three weeks on, on week off, and have no shortage of horror stories.

  •  Flew last weekend (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Aunt Pat, JeffW, Otteray Scribe, G2geek

    Friday to, Sunday from, Houston.


    One checked bag and I left all my edged tools home to begin with.

    It was glorious.

    I love to ride airplanes.

    Now, the junk at Hobby? Yeah, not so much.

    LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 12:31:50 PM PDT

  •  it's the security-theater crapola that annoys me (8+ / 0-)

    Having to be there two hours before the flight to stand in line so they can scan my fucking shoes, is just idiotic.

    PS--I never check anything. I carry everything I need for vacation in a small backpack that fits under the seat as carry-on--some clothing, my camera, my tablet, and that's it. If I need anything more than that, I buy it when I get there.  There's no city in the US that doesn't have a place to buy shampoo and shaving cream.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 01:13:05 PM PDT

    •  Thanks to this site and others, I now think of it (8+ / 0-)

      solely as theater. As if I'd had any real doubt.

      And don't get me started on the FEES. $25 per we're going to travel with the clothes on our backs? Mofos.

    •  that so-called theatre captures a few hundred... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Lenny Flank

      .... loaded guns a year, and a thousand or so more that aren't loaded (as if someone who it's being pointed at can tell).  Assuming the vast majority of those are innocent mistakes (e.g. jewelry dealer who's always armed to prevent robberies, forgot to take his pistol out of his pack), still leaves a few every year that, with the rest of the circumstances added up, would most likely have been used to hijack airplanes.

      So as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy to have federal agents scanning us and our luggage, and occasionally poking at us and pestering at us with questions.  

      What sucks is the fact that civilization has declined to the point where we have to do all of that in the first place.

      And yes, that includes your shoes.  Det cord disguised as shoe laces, a lump of plastique concealed under your toes, a trip to the restroom to put them together and ignite the det cord with a lighter... and "boom!", bye-bye airplane & passengers.  If you get on a plane in Israel the rule is "shoes off for the duration of the flight," and the airline gives you slippers to wear on the plane.  Israelis understand the need, in a country where terrorists blow up buses full of passengers.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 12:37:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh please. (0+ / 0-)
        that so-called theatre captures a few hundred... loaded guns a year, and a thousand or so more that aren't loaded
        G2geek, if A SINGLE ONE OF THOSE MORONS had anything vaguely resembling evil intent, you would have heard about it every day for a month, and there would be a big noisy federal trial. That hasn't happened. Not once.

        Unless they are violating some local law, said morons usually get the gun handed back to them and invited to go back through security again after disposing of it in whatever way they see fit.

        Not only that, but of course, those same guns (and hand grenades, and 4" multiple burst pyrotechnic shells) are spotted nicely by the carry-on x-ray scanners and walk-through metal detectors we were using pre-9/11 without the help of profit-enhancing full-body scanners.

        Not only that, but BEFORE I LEAVE THE HOUSE I've printed my boarding pass with pre-check status, and get to walk through security with my shoes firmly on (just like I do in Europe).

        Yes, theater. By the way, none of this is the TSO's fault; I always extend them  the same courtesy and good humor I would want, and have never had a bad experience. 20-30 airline trips/year.

      •  By the way, I *love* to fly. (0+ / 0-)

        In anything with wings. I've never been in a hot-air balloon, but I would probably love that, too.

  •  Ah, for those early days when flying was an (5+ / 0-)

    adventure, exciting and exotic. Before we were forced to take off our shoes, submit to X rays, get regarded with suspicion, and endure being barked at by TSA slugs (when I saw their new blue uniforms, I recalled "The Serpent and the Rainbow" and said to myself, "It's the Tonton Macoute!")

    And as if all that weren't enough, no matter where one is going, even if it's from Seattle to Honolulu, the ever-present STORMS IN NEW YORK will ensure that there will be no timely departure. My sister just got back from a trip to NYC and said that the plane taxied for 40 minutes, then returned to the gate because oopsie, we don't have enough fuel! The passengers were not permitted to disembark, of course, and the weather was cited as a factor--despite the clear skies at La Guardia. And let's not forget the ever-popular "In just a few minutes," which means half an hour at least, plus "Thank you for your cooperation"--a threat, not courtesy.

    I honestly believe the airlines do this sort of thing because they can, and while the gate personnel and stewardesses doubtless wish it could be otherwise (if only because they're the ones who encounter passenger ire), someone is getting his jollies from it.

    •  at the airport in Tegucigalpa, we ran over (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, Aunt Pat, Calamity Jean

      something while taxiing and popped a tire, so they had to pull the airplane over, jack it up and change the tire, with all of us aboard. Took like half an hour.

      Tegucigalpa has an enormous volcano right at the end of the runway, which can make takeoffs/landing . .  interesting.

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 01:45:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I used to love flying. (7+ / 0-)

    What a difference a TSA makes.

    Libertarianism, n: A political philosophy some people embrace after the roads have been paved. (Stolen from Kurt Weldon)

    by lineatus on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 02:22:22 PM PDT

    •  IMHO, TSA makes it better. (0+ / 0-)

      1200 firearms a year, a few hundred of which were loaded, concealed on passengers and in their carry-ons, picked up by TSA.

      That number speaks for itself.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 12:40:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Back in the 80s. when I was in undergrad - (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, JeffW, G2geek, bull8807

    I ended up in Heathrow around midnight, with a flight early in the morning.  I remember looking at the hotels and thinking I was damned if I was going to pay for a room for a few hours, so I crawled under a bush by the side of the access road and slept until the morning traffic woke me up.

    Probably not something I would do today...

  •  I fly A LOT. Often multiple times a week, somet... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, bull8807, JeffW, G2geek

    I fly A LOT. Often multiple times a week, sometimes weeklong business trips that require me to pack suits.

    I have an amazing carryon and a great packing system. I never check bags. Never ever.

    But this week I'm headed out on a ten-day jaunt from DC to SFO to Anchorage and back. I still think I can pull off my packing magic, but it'll be a near thing. Wish me luck.

    •  Good luck! May you make all of your connections! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, xaxnar

      And may the weather be good for you the whole time.  

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

      by Calamity Jean on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 06:15:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  how do you get a suit into a carry-on?? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And how many pairs of underwear & socks do you carry in a carry-on?  

      Really: I'm all kinds of curious as to how people manage to get sufficient clothing etc. packed in a carry-on.

      No matter how hard I try, with one exception, I've found I always need the size that's one step up from carry-on, so I just check it and that's that.

      I have a three-day biz trip coming up some time in the next few months.  I may be able to do that with a carry-on, plus or minus if I have to carry any of my tools with me (some of which won't be allowed in carry-on bags).  

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 12:44:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some years ago I took the auto-train... (7+ / 0-)

    with my wife. It was delightful! We drove up to Orlando from south Florida, handed over the car and were given our "Cabin" number.

    The cabin consisted of two fairly comfortable chairs that faced one another across a small isle with a window on the out side and curtained off windows and a door on the inside. Very private and pleasant in the extreme.

    There was how ever very little storage space, but we had been warned of this in advance so we had each brought with us just a few items in an overnight bag. So it was not an issue.

    At night we had the steward fold down only one of the two bunk beds but for two intimates it was roomy enough.

    We had a fine enough dinner in the dining car, and I used one of the public showers in the morning just before we arrived some distance south of Washington D.C. to which we retrieved the car (that took some time) and drove the rest of the way.

    It was more like a cruise on a ship than travel. However it was way more expensive than flying, but worth it.

  •  Since deregulation and the TSA, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Simplify

    I would rather have an appointment with a bad dentist.

    If I can't fly myself, I will drive unless I have absolutely no other alternative.  Jet Blue just forced a toddler to urinate in her seat rather than allow her to use the rest room while the plane sat idle on the tarmac.  Seems in the FAA's ongoing war on sanity, the rule is no one is allowed to stand because "the plane may move suddenly" and the passenger risk injury.

    In 2009, a guy was arrested for trying to get to the restroom to vomit after eating some bad food. The flight attendant tried to block him from going into the rest room. Pushing her arm out of the way as she grabbed him earned him two nights in jail. He should have hurled on her instead.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength. - Eric Hoffer

    by Otteray Scribe on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 07:19:48 PM PDT

    •  grouchy mood tonight? (0+ / 0-)

      Puke on a flight attendant?  What got your goat tonight?  

      The whole issue of "body functions" is a problem with air travel, 200 or so bladders and colons that may have to be emptied at inconvenient moments.  

      What I do is, as soon as I board, I ask nicely if I can duck into the WC for a moment, and take care of that before the rest of the passengers are in their seats.  I carefully monitor my fluid balance to stay hydrated, and make sure to use the WC again before descent begins.  And the day before a flight, I eat carefully so I won't have to poop until I'm at my final destination.

      What to do when the Vomit Alarm sounds: grab the airsick bag and kneel in the aisle.  In between heaves, ask other passengers for more airsick bags if needed.  Then ask the flight attendant for a small cup of water, another airsick bag to spit the water into after rinsing your mouth (don't swallow it, if the puke reflexes are still working, it'll just come back up again), and some napkins.  Fortunately I've never had to deal with this, but having a plan is better than not having one.

      What would be worse, is sitting next to someone who doesn't believe in medical science and as a result has measles or even a nasty cold to share.  

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 12:58:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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