From time to time I get questions from readers who want to know what the rules are regarding viewing pornography in flight now that Wi-Fi is available on board most airplanes. Thankfully, it hasn’t been much of an issue (knock on wood). But planes are crowded, personal space barely exits, and when passengers do things they shouldn’t, well, they usually get caught.
Last week on a flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale, a coworker had to ask a 10-year-old boy to turn off the erotica and to fasten his seatbelt. On either side of him sat his younger brother and sister. Across the aisle were his parents who had no idea what was going on until we informed them why he may have been holding the computer screen so close to his face. On a different flight another passenger was caught reading a PlayboyMagazine. Next to him sat his young son. What gave this man away was the opened centerfold he was eyeing up and down. When a flight attendant politely asked him to put it away, he yelled at her for embarrassing him.
How common is it to see someone watching something rather risqué on a laptop, iPad, tablet or even the in-flight entertainment system in the air? I can only think of a few instances I’ve seen something that might raise a few eyebrows. When this happens, I’ll gently inform the passenger that there are children on board and remind them that other passengers seated nearby might find what they’re viewing distasteful. Nine times out of ten they’ll either fast forward through the scene or turn it off – end of story.
[Photo courtesy: Bekathwia]
1. FAAWait - During a creeping weather delay a flight attendant who also works part time as an air traffic controller told me about FAAWait. It’s his favorite app. One click and we knew which airports across the country were also experiencing delays, how long the delays were averaging, and what had caused the delays.
2. MyRadar: Recently a fearful flier on board one of my flights spent three hours watching the weather light up his iPad screen: blue, green, red – wow, so much red! He knew exactly when to expect turbulence, how bad it might get, and how long it would last. Knowing this kept him calm. At one point he even turned around in his seat to let the crew know it would be smooth flying from here on out. Two seconds later the captain called to tell us the exact same thing, it was safe to get up and finish the service. Since then I’ve been recommending the app to anyone who mentions they’re afraid to fly.
3. WhatsApp: An Emirate’s flight attendant from Bosnia based in Saudi Arabia told me about this app on a flight from Miami to New York. WhatsApp makes it possible to send text messages to friends and family out of the country free of charge. There is virtually no cost to stay in touch with loved ones. You can even share audio and video messages.
4. Twitter: Still the best way to get breaking news! You don’t need to “get it.” Just learn how to use the hashtags to find information as it’s happening. For instance, not too long ago I was at an airport that was being evacuated and no one knew why. That was my cue to search the airport code – #DFW. That’s how I found out there was a bomb threat on an incoming flight. I learned this from passengers who were actually on board the flight and tweeting about it as they taxied to the gate.
5. HappyHourFinder: Flight attendants don’t make a lot of money. In fact new hires start out making less than $18,000 a year. And yet we’re subjected to overpriced hotel and airport food on a regular basis. This is why we take advantage of happy hour specials, particularly ones that include half priced appetizers, which might explain how I ended up at Vince Neil’s Bar, Tres Rios, in Las Vegas two hours after learning about the app in the crew van on our way from the airport to the layover hotel.
When a passenger said to me with a straight face that he had cat-like reflexes, I tried not to laugh. Only it’s impossible not to laugh when a person says something like this, and actually means it. FYI: I’ve been around a lot of passengers and I have yet to meet one with these kind of reflexes. At least not in this day and age of distracted air travel.
How did I meet my funny feline friend? We had just touched down at La Guardia airport in New York. While taxiing to the gate, I spotted him, a business man, sitting in the aisle seat of the last row of coach with a mammoth-sized computer resting on his lap, fingers typing away.
From the back of the airplane over the roar of the engine, I called out, “Sir, excuse me, Sir! “
Either he couldn’t hear me or assumed I was speaking to someone else. I unbuckled my belt and gently tapped him on the shoulder. “You’re not supposed to be using that right now.”
Fingers continued to peck at the keys. Eyes remained glued to the screen. “I thought we were allowed to use electronic devices after landing.”
“It’s okay to use your cell phone after landing, but not a computer. That should be off and stowed.”
On a mission, the fingers kept moving. “I’m….almost…done.”
Almost was not soon enough.
photo courtesy of Svacher
Photo courtesy of Mark H Anbinder. Caption courtesy of @Traytablestrvls
(Make sure to check out the other hilarious caption suggestions in the comment section below)
Recently someone asked me what the real reason was for no cell phones in flight. My reply, “Does it matter? You still have to turn it off and put it away.”
There are three things flight attendants should not discuss with passengers. They are religion, politics, and the reason why cell phone use is not permitted in flight. This is because everyone has their own opinion and people feel strongly about what they believe to be true. It’s not easy for some to agree to disagree and be done with it. The last thing we need in flight is a passenger who wants to argue. Trust me, we get enough of those without engaging in controversial conversations.
When it comes to why cell phones aren’t allowed on airplanes, a lot of passengers have come up with conspiracy theories. These grand theories all revolve around money. Call me crazy, but if the airlines could make a buck off of cell phone use in flight like they do with wi-fi, don’t you think they would have figured out how by now? And regardless of what I say, these same suspicious passengers are still going to do what they want to do – until I ask them to turn it off!
In 2006 Scientific American published a report that stated an average of four calls were made per flight. With so many people unable to “turn it off” literally, can you imagine what that number would be today! On a flight from Dallas to Oklahoma City I had remind sixteen passengers – sixteen! – not once, not twice, but three times to turn off and stow their electronic devices after we had backed away from the gate. And those were only the passengers I had caught red handed. These days passengers are pretty sneaky with their electronic devices. It’s impossible to check under every thigh and inside passengers pockets to make sure passengers are complying with only a few minutes left before take-off.
“When I forget to turn off my phone by accident, I notice the plane still finds the airport,” said one reader.
Thank God for that!