My husband and I are seated on a plane, ready to head home after a family vacation. The plane is full. Everyone’s strapped in their seats, ready to go. Take-off begins. Wheels are up, we’re off the ground; as the plane banks left, we both feel cold liquid dripping on our heads. Certainly an ominous sign. Is the plane leaking? This can’t be good. We look up to see big cold drops of brown liquid, which appears to be soda, dripping out of the overhead compartment, splashing on my right side and his left. The plane levels and straightens out, and the drip stops. This wasn’t just a few drops, more of a soda rain shower. Then, the plane banks left again, and the downpour restarts. By now everyone around us is involved. With each new cloudburst of soda, we hear a chorus of “ohs, eews, and oohs.” Everyone is mobilized. Folks in front and behind us are passing us wadded up Kleenex, folded newspapers, anything to sop up the drips. By now there’s a puddle on the seat between us, my right arm and leg are soaked. With each turn to the left, the downpour restarts. The fasten seat belt sign remains lit. And no help in sight from the flight attendants. We’re only three rows up from the back where some of them are seated, and they’d have to be blind and deaf, to not have noticed the commotion.
And so it goes. With each left turn the soda shower restarts. Are we supposed to just sit here being doused with soda for who knows how long, until the seat belt sign goes off? I have no idea how much is up there – could be a big bottle, a cup, who knows? It’s not okay to bring a 4-ounce bottle of shampoo on the plane, but apparently a Big Gulp is okay. Finally, I unfasten my seat belt so I can reach up and hold the wad of newspapers that someone has handed us right up against the bottom of the compartment to staunch the downpour. This helps some but I can’t do this for long. Then the chimes sound, which I take as a sign that it’s okay to get up. (Turns out it wasn’t.) My soggy husband and I leap from our seats and open the compartment. I need a better look, so now I’m standing on my seat so I can see what’s going on up there. Turns out there is a huge puddle of cold soda sloshing around in the compartment – probably from a bottle that was up there on a previous flight, or from someone’s bag who is afraid to fess up. So here I am, despite the fasten seat belt sign still lit, standing on my seat and mopping up the soda with sections of newspaper that surrounding passengers are passing to us. Still no reaction or help from the flight attendants.
Finally, the flight attendants arise from their coma, or whatever was keeping them from helping, and begin their trip down the aisle. As the closest attendant comes upon us, does she help, or at least ask what’s going on? No. she just expresses her annoyance that we are out of our seats and blocking the aisle. She agrees to bring us some paper towels, if we’d just get out of her way, for God’s sake. We wad up the paper towels into the edges of the compartment to stop the remaining drips that have seeped in under the frame. Every single flight attendant who passes by for the rest of the flight expresses annoyance and asks why we have these towels shoved up in there. Not “are you okay?”, “do you need anything else?” or “I’m sorry you were doused with cold soda.”
Thank goodness the commotion was only about dripping soda, and not a serious malfunction with the plane, an illness or seizure, or worse yet, a terrorist scuffle. I’ve been seated with wacky people, crying babies and toddlers, kids kicking the back of my seat, and now this. What is your worst inflight experience, and how did you handle it?
(Addendum: I later shared my complaint about the above incident with the airline’s customer service. The agent acknowledged that the flight attendants should have been more attentive and helpful during this incident, and gave me a voucher for a miniscule discount on a future flight.)
- Scan me: Huffygirl’s guide to exciting airline travel (huffygirl.wordpress.com)
- This Is For All Frequent Flyers (oyiabrown.wordpress.com)