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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Scan me: Huffygirl’s guide to exciting airline travel


Security checkpoint at Seattle Tacoma (SeaTac)...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m standing barefoot, holding my shoes. This can only mean one thing. A long walk on the beach? No, I’m in an airport, silly. Did I mention that I’m also holding my belt, laptop, coat, purse, carry-on bag, ticket, and photo ID, while pushing my briefcase along with my feet and trying to grab three scanner trays? Time for another fun trip through airport security, otherwise known as the portal to Hell.

 With the beginning of the holiday travel season approaching, I thought I’d offer a few tips to make your next trip through this portal more enjoyable, at least as enjoyable as mine was. After all, I just did it, without being randomly selected, at least this time anyway, for personal screening, so I must be an expert.

1. Be sure to arrive at the airport two hours prior to your flight. This allows you extra time to jump out of the way of the other people who are pushing past you on the escalator and people mover, the majority of whom did not arrive two hours before their flight.

2. For a full experience, choose your security screening line wisely. I recommend getting in line behind the guy wearing lace-up hiking boots and cargo pants with a water bottle stuck in his back pocket. It would be even better if he had a laptop in a locked briefcase. Standing in line behind him ensures a maximum amount of time in the screening line, to get the ultimate experience.

3. Choose your seat assignment based on your travel preferences. Do you enjoy having strangers climb over your lap? Then go for the middle seat. Do you find that it just doesn’t seem like vacation unless your elbows are constantly bumped by perky strangers pushing carts? Then you’ll want the aisle seat. Or do you enjoy the intimacy of struggling over the laps of people you’ve never met? Then the window seat is for you. Whatever seat you choose, getting in and out will be a lot like a fun game of Twister.

4. Choose your seat mates wisely. Well, you can’t really choose an interesting seat mate, unless you’re bringing your mother-in-law along, but what if you could? Don’t go for the boring slender business person who sits quietly playing with their phone the entire trip. That wouldn’t be any fun. Look for someone with a little flair, a little different. For instance, on my recent trip, I had the good fortune of being seated next to the female Milton. For those who don’t know, Milton is the somewhat dim, obsessive character in the movie Office Space. I knew right away that I would have a fascinating seat mate experience, when I sat down, and Miltonette proffered a grubby-looking zip-lock bag of potato chips and asked me what nationality I was. The rest of the flight was truly entertaining. Every few minutes Miltonette would randomly blurt out whatever gem had popped into her head. “My sister has strawberry blond hair.” “I paint pictures but don’t sign them.” And my personal favorite: “My whole family uses bar soap.”

5. Hope to find a delightful surprise when you pick up your bag. Suppose your TSA lock is missing. This leads to a fantastic brain teaser that will engage your mind for days, maybe even weeks. Did the TSA search my bag, or did a rogue baggage handler cut off the lock?  Has anything been disturbed? Is anything missing? Did they look at my underwear? You’ll never know. Your own unsolved mystery.

Unfortunately, your exciting airplane trip is over, but why let the fun stop now. For a bonus experience:

6. Chose an off-brand rental car. Sure you could pick National or Avis, but where’s the adventure in that? Pick some place you’ve never heard of, say, Fox Rental. Just finding the place is an event.  After you’ve traveled blocks from the other, ordinary rental car places and landed in some back-alley warehouse, you get to stand in the “special” complaint line for what seems like hours, just because the fun rental agent finds some secret invisible “damage” on your car. But hey, you saved $30, and now  you get to practice your people skills too, so why not? This is a perfect end to your exciting trip.

Travel is fun. Anyone can see that by watching a few episodes of “Pan Am.” Why miss out? Book your trip today.

© Huffygirl