The last time my wife and I flew she took extra care, ahead of time, to say soothing things to me.
Things like ,”just be calm,” and “look at it as funny,” and “it really all goes fast, honest!”
What she was really saying, of course, was “Don’t freak out again or they’ll shoot you.”
Which I’m convinced could happen. This is the only reason I don’t, while going through Airport Security or riding in the oversized sardine cans we call airliners these days, freak out worse than I do.
I say this because of the story in the news today (click!) about a Jet Blue airline attendant who freaked out, grabbed a beer, hit the emergency slide button and took off. Interestingly, his neighbor, another flight attendant, said she not only approved “but if he’d called me I’d have come given him a ride home.”
Of course he got arrested, but that’s not the point. The rush by passengers to have ever-cheaper flights, combined with the rush by airlines to get as much money out of everyone, combined with anal-retentive airline security people who are mostly there for show and secretly know it, has created a pressure cooker. Everyone thinks, “Oh, how bad could it be and the flight is only 4hours anyway?” but we’re finding out, now, that it can be very bad indeed.
Yes yes, I know, the evil terrorists hijacked airplanes armed with box cutters so we have to be very careful. And there was the guy with the shoe, and then the underwear, which means we need to examine everyone everywhere and then jam them into those overpacked monstrosities.
The big weakness is that, while they won’t let us take a knife on board of any size, and they’re very careful about liquids, and we all do the shoe thing, nobody is reacting the way they ought to to the danger of exploding underwear, which tells me that they really aren’t very serious. Some of those people on board the last flight I took could have hidden several tons of explosive in their underwear without adding to their girth more than an inch or two, the typical American traveler being, shall we say, just a bit stout.
And what if the bomb is inside someone? Huh? Yes, it has already happened, no kidding. (click). Yuk.
So why don’t they care about more exploding underwear? Or exploding guts?
As I said, TSA’s security deal is mostly for show, but asking people to check their underwear, or their guts, at the gate is more show than they want.
Anyway, the whole thing is pissing off a lot of people. And once they get on the plane, the airline attendants are little more than automata, going through safety drills nobody watches, tossing tiny bags of peanuts at the animals, and so on. In return the passengers are all grumpy, and with good reason, since that guy got 5 peanuts and I only got 4, what’s with that?
So I’m not surprised that this guy lost it. Added onto the pile of troubles he was having in the rest of his life, it was inevitable, and who doesn’t have troubles?
I see no way out. Americans demand cheap flight. Airlines have to make money. And Americans demand that every flight they take be certified safe, no danger at all.
I predict more. Meanwhile, to this guy, I don’t blame him. His was an urge we all have. Some pick better ways to act on that urge than others, but in general, I think a lot of people are rooting for him.
Including, I bet, a whole lot of flight attendants.
ps: Don’t try to tell me that the 9-11 guys hijacked planes with box cutters so the prohibition against all blades is reasonable. No it’s not. The 9-11 terrorists hijacked planes with the certain knowledge that Americans and American flight crew members were told never, ever to resist a hijacker, even one armed with just a box cutter.
Which is why they made me mail my Swiss Army knife, all 2 inches of it, back to my house rather than take it on the flight. I felt, under the circumstances, I handled it very calmly, especially since my wife was standing right there.