Stop! Don’t put that soda in the overhead bin


Coke 2litre bottles

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.)

© Huffygirl

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26 thoughts on “Stop! Don’t put that soda in the overhead bin

  1. This one’s pretty trivial in the range of possibilities, but it was annoying. Right after takeoff, the stranger sitting next to me slipped off her shoes and propped her horrible-smelling feet against the bulkhead in front of our row. And kept them up through the flight.

    All right, it’s possible she had some medical condition that required her to elevate her feet. And maybe she had another medical problem that made her feet reek, or made it inadvisable to bathe. But in that case, any normally observant adult would have to realize this was unusual behavior, and a muttered apology would be appropriate. What she behaved like was a selfish, entitled jerk who just didn’t care how irritating she was.

    • “…inadvisable to bathe…” I love it. I can’t think of any medical condition that causes that. Even if one’s feet smell like roses, no one should be propping theirs up next to someone else. Sometimes we humans behave like wild dogs.

  2. Unbelievable. Sounds you like handled it better than I would have–these days it’s not smart to assert yourself too much on a plane, but I might have said, “Umm.. are you #$%^-ing kidding me, people?” And no voucher for the dry cleaning? Would love to fess up a good airline story, but all I’ve got is when my 2 year old snuck onto a Argentina bound jetliner and hid out in first class! http://walkingpapers.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/dont-cry-for-me/

    • At least your story has more pizazz. The thing with airline travel is, you don’t want to be wrestled to the ground by an air marshall because your behavior seems suspicious, like jumping up and saying “hey, there’s some #$%& liquid pouring down on me!” It’s kind of like being in a minimum security prison, except one that you paid quite a bit to get into. You have to be on good behavior, but how can you just sit and quietly be doused with soda?

  3. Discount? what about your wet clothes? those flight staff should be reprimanded and each write a letter of apology to you. Absolutely disgusting and I’m seething! It could have been something nasty pouring down.

  4. Curious how bottles of soda got on the plane in the first place— or was this before all the security measures?
    I’ve never had anything like this but years ago when we were traveling back from Arizona after visiting my father in -law, my husband went on to a business trip and I was returning with the 3 kids. Our daughter must have been about 3 or 4. We changed planes in Chicago and the 4 of us weren’t seated together. I asked this guy to switch so I could sit with Lydia and he refused. She fell asleep on him, drooling all over, the entire flight!

    • Guess he’ll switch seats next time! This just happened in May. I think if you buy liquids in the airport after you’ve gone through security, you can bring them on the plane or anywhere else. Someone must have put it in their bag. Once the deluge started, they could have solved the problem by getting up and getting the bottle out, but at that point I think no one wanted to claim it. Shameful. I’d feel terrible if something I had dripped all over someone else. But then, I would never be carrying around a bottle of soda, and certainly would not put it in my bag in the overhead bin.

  5. Ah, yes. Air travel. My favorite. My most nightmarish experience was being seated in the window seat with an open-mouthed sleeper next to me who hadn’t seen a piece of dental floss in her entire life. I endured rancid breath from Italy to New York. Horrible!

    • It was. I guess from now on I’ll check the overhead bins for puddles of soda (or worse) before getting into my seat. At least it wasn’t an old diaper up there – could have been worse I guess.

      • I think we gave up on them a while back because they always make us fly through Atlanta or Cincinnati to get to where we want to go. But maybe I’ll try them again. Of course, we never had any trouble with Frontier until this incident. But every flight attendant on that trip seemed cranky and disgruntled. I wonder if they had just gotten paycuts or layoffs or something bad happened to them.

  6. Terrible! Frontier owes you a huge groveling apology, a decent voucher, and a guarantee that they will re-train their flight attendants.

    • From the outcry I’ve been hearing, I’m thinking of writing a letter to them (on paper and everything) since my email complaint didn’t get me that much. A $25 voucher on the next $350 flight, which of course if I get mad and don’t fly Frontier any more, doesn’t give me anything.

  7. That’s crazy! I can’t believe you stayed put as long as you did. I’m sure most people would have jumped up long before that out of a self-preservation instinct. Yeah, Frontier definitely owes you a better apology and discount!

    • It’s hard to think on your feet sometimes, especially when on a plane, and any strange actions could be construed as suspicious. But then when I could see that no one of authority was paying any attention to us… I think going through airport security and being on a plane is a lot like being in a minimum security prison, or maybe a strict Catholic school.

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