Sunday, August 7, 2011

Flying the Unfriendly Skies

So, it's been three years since I took an international flight to the US and boy, what a difference three years makes. Not only have passengers gotten ruder, but the flight crews have, too. Case in point: Our recent trip home. We flew on an American owned and operated air carrier whose name I won't divulge. Let's just call them Detinu Airlines. Anyways, after waiting for an hour to use the restroom (because you are not allowed to form a line to use the can)and never finding an opening I finally ventured out of my seat with my four year old while the 'fasten seatbelt' sign was illuminated. As we approached the vacant lavatory, a female flight attendant got right in my face, effectively blocking our entrance to the bathroom and said, "Ma'am the fasten seatbelt sign is on. You need to return to your seat!" I very calmly informed her that my four year old had been waiting an HOUR for the on board lavatories, ANY on board lavatory, to be vacant and we had no luck. Every time we tried to make a break for an empty bathroom, someone else go there before us, thus my daughter's bladder was near the breaking point. "Well," said the nasty flight attendant, "you are risking serious injury by being out of your seats." This comment not only scared my child, but sent me over the edge. "Look," I said, "either she goes in the potty or she goes in her seat, your choice." At this point, the Nasty flight attendant, moved out of our way and sat back in her jump seat (all the while muttering nasty comments under her breath to the other rude flight attendants seated next to her). Seriously, is THIS what air travel has come to? I am willing to comply with all the new and ridiculous rules of air travel, but where oh where has common sense gone? Frisking my four year old? Trying to keep passengers prisoner in their seats for a TEN hour flight? And what about those Air Marshalls that were supposed to be on every flight over three hours long? Aren't they there to keep everyone safe? Surely with them onboard there is no reason to restrict passenger movement? It is too bad that safety comes at the expense of common sense.


  1. I'm sorry to say so, but the completely over the top and ridiculous "security" checks and rules imposed by the US is a major reason my wife and I will no longer attend professional conferences in the US or fly there. On the last three occasions we have done so we have been subjected to intrusive and rude "security checks" at the check-in (I am British my wife German and we live in Germany, surprise, surprise! She has a Diplomatic Passport and I have a normal UK issue, we both worked for our respective governments, but I've now retired), followed by rude flight attendants and even ruder Immigration Officials at the other end. Followed by the completely nonsensical procedure of claim your bag, pass it and yourself through a pointless security check, then hand your baggage in again to be collected - when and if they actually deliver it - at the exit to the terminal. Two hours, some heated exchanges (On top of a 8 hour flight plus delayed departure!) we finally got our bags. Mine had been cut open - simply calling me and asking me to open it might have been politer - despite having been security checked and prominently sealed and marked as such in Frankfurt. Reason? Some of the materials and an adapter (I wasn't allowed to carry it on board in my handluggage as it had "sharp protrusions that could be used ..." you get the picture.) needed for my presentation at the conference we were speaking at showed up on the x-ray (Surprise!) and evidently some moron decided it was a bomb ... I had to buy a bag to restow my clothes and equipment before we could get a taxi to our destination.

    A year later my wife flew to San Francisco for another conference and had even more hassle.

    No, I don't think we'll bother visiting the US again. A pity, because we have some fabulous friends there and really would like to see more of it.

  2. Ugh, I completely share your disgust with Detinu!! There were about 40 of us traveling in uniform one time to various training exercises, and the check-in attendants directed us out of line and said we would dealt with separately. We then proceeded to be ignored for an HOUR, despite multiple attempts to point out that our boarding time was fast approaching. When we finally got their attention, they scolded us for not being there early enough for check-in prior to the flight...umm, I'm sorry, we've been waiting in the corner since 0500 and YOU refused to check our bags! I make a point to not even consider booking on Detinu now...I won't even look at the schedule.

  3. @Monk: no need to be sorry, you are absolutely right. The US is now the premiere home of completely ridiculous and over the top security checks that are as ambiguous as they are pointless. Perhaps if more people boycotted travel here the powers that be would be forced to come up with a more efficient and effective system. @comogirl: Detinu should be ashamed of the despicable manner in which they treated members of our armed forces. We LOVE what you do for us!