Photo courtesy of Abdul Afia / @UAL4Life
Caption courtesy of FarrChi
Photo courtesy of Abdul Afia / @UAL4Life
Caption courtesy of FarrChi
Photo courtesy of Kathy S
Caption Courtesy of @IanHMoore
This post originally appeared on Businessweek.com …
Low-cost Malaysian airline AirAsia (AIRA:MK) has finally done what many disgruntled passengers have long hoped for: It has banned children from sections of some airplanes. Starting in February, the first seven economy rows on its long-haul AirAsia X flights will be designated as the “quiet zone” and reserved for adults (well, people over the age of 12) to give passengers a chance to rest during the flights. Malaysian Airlines is also in the process of creating a child-free zone on certain flights. But are children really the worst offenders on airplanes? For an answer, Bloomberg Businessweek turned to Heather Poole, who has chronicled her 17-year career as a flight attendant for a major airline in her book Cruising Attitude.
So are children really that annoying on flights?
Well, first, let me say: I have a six-year-old, so I’m on Team Mom with this one. You can tell when passengers haven’t had kids because they’re less patient. They can get upset just by the thought of having to sit next to a child. That said, kids can be really disruptive on flights. But usually when that happens, it’s not the kid’s fault; it’s the parents’. Not long ago, I had a family come on board and their little girl threw temper tantrum in the middle of the aisle. The parents looked at me and just laughed. I’m like: ‘Can you move your child? I’m trying to board the plane.’
I see parents come on a plane with nothing to entertain their child, so then the kid gets bored and starts kicking the seat in front of them. Sometimes parents will sit in first class but leave their kids in coach. The kids will be standing in the aisle during takeoff or trying to get out of their seats.
Really? Parents really pay that little attention to their kids?
A long time ago I was on a flight—I wasn’t working, I was just flying like a regular passenger—and I felt something between my legs. I looked under my seat and there was a baby. I turned around behind me and the mom was sleeping. I tapped her on shoulder and said, ‘I think this is yours,’ and she took the baby and closed her eyes again. She had no idea that I was a flight attendant; to her I was just a random stranger who’d gotten ahold of her baby.
Photo courtesy of Elyse Pasquale / Foodie International
Last night’s episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm can only be described as hilarious. I’m a huge fan of the show, so imagine my delight when Larry David popped up on an airplane eating Pink Berry and complaining about his long shoe laces. Midway through the flight, after finding the first class lavatory occupied, Larry does what most first class passengers would never do. He whips back the blue curtain and enters coach. On his way to the back of the plane, a fellow passenger scolds him for crossing cabins after she’s been told she can’t use the first class bathroom. Larry tries to explain that he’s not a typical first class passenger. He’s “coach-y” That’s when the passenger accuses him of being “first class-y” It’s a funny scene you have to see. (CLICK HERE to watch) On his way back to first class, Larry trips on his shoe laces in the aisle and accidentally takes down a belligerent passenger in the process of abusing a flight attendant. Everyone in coach gives Larry a standing ovation. He’s dubbed a hero. Larry, of course, takes full credit for his bravery. His seatmate who wanted nothing to do with him, or his long shoe laces, earlier on in the flight now finds him attractive and slides him her phone number. She then goes on to compare him to Sullenberg. Season 8, Episode 76, The Hero.
(Leonardo Navarro interviewed me about airline upgrades in his column Hodge-Podge for the Wharton Journal)
No tradition is as quintessentially part of the MBA as is travel with erstwhile productive members of society. And no sport is as representative of this tradition as the competition to procure business class upgrades, preferably at the expense of one’s friends. Any semblance of mutual care is tossed to the curb, as former friends and lovers fight with the weapons that are the vestigial miles, points, and status levels afforded by former employers.
Victory is bittersweet. After the coup’s consummation, while champion devotes self fully to decide what is to be done with the coveted real estate, remaining travel companions in steerage are left to plot their vanquisher’s downfall within the ephemeral social order of traveling friends.
How can a Whartonite best excel in this sport? Flight attendant and blogger Heather Poole authors “Galley Gossip,” a column covering items of interest mandatory to all MBAs, such as “5 reasons flight attendants don’t serve first class pre-departure beverages”. Poole advises us on how to achieve upgrade triumph.
First and foremost, one must adopt the right attitude. “I don’t have to look at the list to tell who’s who. Flight attendants can spot a true frequent-flier a mile away just by the way they board. Most are confident, orderly and efficient.”
Next, one has to optimally invest one’s energy. “Asking a flight attendant for an upgrade is useless. It’s the gate agent who has the power.”
Photo courtesy of Richard Moross
If my book had a playlist, Dave Mathew’s song “where are you going” would definitely be on it….
It’s not often I get to start a Galley Gossip post with that name! But that’s the name several readers mentioned after I asked if they could guess which celebrity passenger offered to assist an unconscious woman with his “special powers” on the airplane. Honest to God, I wouldn’t joke about something as serious as this!
It’s interesting to note that Gary Busey, Depak Chopra, Uri Geller, and the Director General of the FBI were also mentioned as celebrities possibly possessing a very unique power. Tom Cruise, however, won the poll by a landslide with twenty-three votes. I wonder if Mr. Cruise is even aware that so many people believe him to be to powerful?!
“Tom Cruise has one power, jumping on Oprah’s couch!” said a reader named Jeff after I posed the question.
Another reader named Neil said, “It’s true. Tom Cruise had special powers over my wife at one time. She’s outgrown him though.”
Now that I’m thinking about it perhaps Tom Cruise does have – or had – special powers! Then again maybe I just have a lot in common with Neil’s wife! Whatever the case, I do know that the celebrity passenger in question was not Tom Cruise, or any one of the other people mentioned above. Unfortunately I am unable to name the passenger (I’d like to keep my job), but I will tell you exactly what happened. Just remember this is Galley Gossip, first class 767 galley gossip to be precise. That said I’m fairly certain the source is a reliable one.
THE STORY …
(Photo courtesy of Cristilive)
You’ve boarded a flight and you’re feeling pretty relaxed sitting in that big comfy first class seat. Sucka, you think to yourself as a couple of passengers check you out on their way to coach. Glancing at your watch, you wonder where the heck the flight attendant is because you’re dying of thirst and shouldn’t she be offering drinks right about now!
Predepartures. That’s what flight attendants call the drinks that are served before takeoff to passengers seated in business and first class. If there’s time flight attendants will walk through the aisle and take individual orders, but time is the key word here. With so many full flights staffed with minimum crew, there’s usually not enough time to check the emergency equipment, set up the galley, hang all the coats, get passengers situated AND serve predeparture beverages. This is why flight attendants might choose to do a one shot service and offer passengers Champagne (if we have it), orange juice, and water- or nothing at all. Because it’s more important to get flights out on time than it is to serve drinks before takeoff.
What most passengers don’t realize is that it’s against FAA regulations for an agent to shut an aircraft door until all the overhead bins have been closed. If the agent can’t close the aircraft door on time, the flight will be delayed. If the flight is delayed (even by a few minutes) someone will have to take the blame. This means someone will get written up. If an airline employee is written up too many times for causing a delayed departure they might very well lose their job. On time departures are a big deal in the airline industry. So that gin and tonic the passenger in 3A is crying about is not a concern if passenger 23D refuses to sit down and passenger 14E can’t get her suitcase inside an overhead bin and the flight attendant working in the back is calling up front to let someone know there are seven bags on their way up that need to be checked.
Here are a few other reasons flight attendants might not serve you a drink before takeoff….
Photo courtesy of Kevin H