So the landing gear is down, the flaps are up, and we're on our final approach to our destination airport. Does this mean the insanity is finally over?? Oh, heavens no! We've only just begun...
- Those %&*# cellphones: Most of us have mommies and daddies (biology lesson offered separately). My mommy, in particular, taught me the difference between my "inside voice" and my "outside voice". Apparently, many of my fellow passengers were raised by coyotes or, alternatively, missed the inside/outside voice lesson from childhood. I say this because no sooner have the wheels touched the ground their cellphones are turned on, calls are made, and as soon as these calls connect, these same passengers who had been so quiet, considerate, almost demure - begin SHOUT-CONVERSING with whomever has picked up on the other end. Now imagine some 200 passengers all BELLOWING into their phones to family members, colleagues, ground transportation, boyfriends/girlfriends, imaginary friends (I imagine there are a few lonely people on each flight that actually pretend to call someone so they don't feel left out - sad really) in very close quarters. Joy!!
- Premature evacuation: Air traffic control at every airport "requires all passengers and flight attendants to remain seated with the safety belts fastened until the aircraft is stopped at the gate and the captain had turned off the safety belt sign." There's inevitably, therefore, those one or two passengers who feel these "suggestions" somehow don't apply and immediately begin hopping up, moving through the aisles and attempting to get a "one-up" on their fellow passengers by retrieving their carry-ons from the overhead bins before anyone else. This little misdemeanor carries consequences. Apparently, the flight attendants who have perfect visibility of the aisles from their seats, are required to report this activity to the captain who is REQUIRED BY LAW TO STOP THE FRICKIN AIRCRAFT if passengers are up during the taxi process. Ergo, the plane stops, the flight attendants and the captain hop on the PA system reminding passengers ad nauseum of all regulations and requirements involving the taxiing process, the passengers surrounding the moron begin hurling unpleasantries (verbal, not tangible), and finally, the guilty party(ies) return to their seats. Of course, as luck would have it, that little delay on the tarmac has frustrated someone in the tower and, as punishment for our indiscretion, our little plane is allowed to sit there for 10-20 minutes to allow every other plane taxiing to go by first before we can resume our egress to the gate. More joy!!!
- When time stood still: So we've made it to the gate, the seatbelt sign is off, and the "Ding" indicating it's now safe to get up and begin the deplaning process has sounded. This is when the phenomenon occurs. If you've been on a commercial aircraft, you know what I'm describing. The passengers (mostly all of them) attempt to stand up simultaneously to begin retrieving their luggage and personal items and get off the aircraft as quickly and un-orderly as possible. These are after all very busy, very important people with places to be and people to see. But as soon as everybody is up -- nobody moves. It's like time slows to a near stand-still and the mob remains frozen for a small eternity. It marvels me at how long it takes a group of people to extract their luggage and get off an airplane! I kid you not, there have been a few times when I felt it took as long if not longer to get off the plane after arriving at a destination than it did to ACTUALLY FLY FROM POINT A TO POINT B!!! Blame it on the boarding door, blame it on people having to swim upstream to retrieve their carry-ons (see entry 1) - it doesn't matter the cause. The consequence is something I'll at some point dub the "Moronic Effect" and have copyrighted. It makes me long for my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Snow, who ran fire-drills for us 8 and 9 year-olds. Now THAT woman knew how to establish and maintain order getting folks out of a building. Maybe Delta could pull her out of retirement to instill some discipline in passengers while deplaning? Her whistle and drill-sergeant-like commands were legendary...
|How I like to remember "Mrs. Snow"...|
- Aisle seat pacifists/pansies: Now, based on the above description of the deplaning process, you hope for someone seated in your respective aisle that recognizes how the exit game is played. You're looking for an aggressive veteran - someone who immediately hops into the aisle clearing a small path for middle seat and window seat passengers to be able to stand up, stretch a little, and begin planning their own exit strategy. But occasionally, as luck would have it, you find yourself in a middle seat or window seat position blockaded by the ultimate pansy: someone seated in the aisle - your aisle - refusing to stand when appropriate, providing no blocking, showing no initiative, and forcing you to remain seated, unable to move, thus approaching a claustrophobic state from the prolonged feeling of confinement. And this is the same aisle person who, during the flight, demanded more ice in their beverage, an additional packet of pretzels - they showed such promise, such potential! But get 'em on the ground and they go soft and putty-like. Disgusting...
|Qualities you look for in an aisle-seat guy...|
- Newton's Law: Okay, fellow passengers...pay attention!! If a woman standing 5'1" and weighing in at around 85 pounds has positioned a carry-on bag that stands nearly as tall as its owner and weighing 120 pounds is attempted to be removed from the overhead bin which sits at about 7' of height, somebody is going to get creamed by said bag! This isn't a possibility or a likelihood, this is a scientific certainty - unless another passenger assists or the woman is totally juiced on 'roids. I never fail to see at least one fellow passenger get completely crushed by another passenger's carry-on when said bag is extricated from the overhead space. It's inevitable! Either some moron is on his cellphone while removing luggage, completely indifferent to what he's doing or the swath of bodies he's leaving with the downward arc of his garment bag, or perhaps an underage minor is insistent that he/she is "all grown up" and can handle getting his/her own bag whilst standing on the armrest. Irrespective of the circumstances, somebody's gonna get nailed by a computer bag, purse, or piece of luggage. You can actually tell which passengers have sustained previous deplaning injuries because they stand defensively, their legs slightly bent, their arms poised in a defensive stance akin to something from a Bruce Lee movie. They even make that slightly high-pitched "cat in heat getting bonked in an alley" noise Bruce made famous in his films..."ooooaaaawwwwwwwwWWWWWWW"..... Beautiful!!
|Watch yourself with that bag, Mister...|
- Why, in fact, time stands still: There are likely a multitude of reasons the deplaning process can take forever but here are a few of my personal favorites. Most carry-ons have these lovely wheel-systems that make toting them a breeze - as long as you're not attempting to "breeze" them down an aircraft aisle only 2/3 as wide as the bag itself. But that little fact of physics doesn't prevent many of the passengers from trying. They'll retrieve their bag and, instead of simply carrying it off the plane like a normal person, they'll stop in the aisle, put it on the floor, pull up the extension handle, and attempt to wheel it off the aircraft. This of course causes the bag to get stuck at every aisle, the wheel base being too large, and the passenger attempting to finagle, coerce, and plead with the bag to somehow get smaller (sorry, butt-munch, this isn't Alice in Wonderland and there's no magical cake for you OR your bag), and the result is an additional 5 minutes of "stoppage time". Or there's the clueless passenger who makes it all the way up the jetway (the mobile hallway connecting the plane to the terminal) and proceeds through the entrance to the terminal - only to stop - right there - blocking the passengers behind him/her - to get their bearings, determine exactly where they are in relation to another gate or baggage claim, or their reason for being in the universe. This means we all stop and wait behind said passenger to uncover their purpose for life - and then we can all proceed. Multiply this times a dozen passengers per flight - easily 15-20 minutes of stoppage time. Finally, there's the overeager airline representative who stands at the entrance to the terminal insisting on providing connecting gate information, whether or not you actually have a connection. He/she acts like the greeter at WalMart, insisting on having a conversation with every passenger deplaning from the aircraft. And she's so happy and affectionate and drippy, calling everyone "Sugar" or "Honey" or "Sweets" that it's impossible to get mad at her and thus - an additional 10-15 minutes of stoppage time.
|Would this speed things up???|