>Things I Don’t Want to Hear on a Plane: A Fearful Flyer’s Manifesto

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Things I Don’t Want to Hear on a Plane: A Scared Passenger’s Manifesto

I’ve written before about my unnecessary, unnerving and unavoidable [albeit sudden] fear of flying. I don’t know where it came from and I don’t know how to make it go away. It isn’t simply a control issue thing, as many people project, because I am also terrified when Nicole flies. She has to text me the second the plane lands otherwise I am asking around to people on the street “Did you hear anything about a plane crash?” I’m not kidding. Well, maybe that does, now that I think of it, include elements of control issues. Anyway.

I think all airline employees (pilots, flight attendants, security people and counter service people) should act like the passenger they are dealing with is scared out of his or her mind, like me, so I put forth these rules to follow:

1. No Conditional Tense: Please avoid using this tense at all times when on a plane. I don’t need to hear the insinuation that that an action (staying alive) is dependant on the occurrence of a condition (landing safely/not falling out of the sky). So I don’t want to hear a pilot say “We Should be landing” or “We Should have you on the ground…” Just say we WILL be landing or we WILL be on the ground.

2. No Turbulence Predictions: So I am on the plane, strapped in, trying to stay calm and relaxed before take off, reminding myself continuously that this is a safe and efficient form of transportation and telling myself that I am ridiculous, when the pilot comes on and says that he expects a smooth flight after North Carolina, which our pilot did indeed say on our flight down to Florida. Or on a return flight from England once the pilot warned that things might get a little bumpy over the Atlantic. Which, by the way, is most of the flight. Do they have to give these updates? As a passenger on a plane I expect that there will it pockets of turbulence, so please don’t tell me that the first 500 miles of my trip might be a veritable roller coaster. That’s sort of like driving in a car and someone announcing every pothole. “Here comes a pothole! Oops. There’s another one. Oh, and another. I bet there will be more!”

3. No Interrupted Announcements: Never ever ever start an announce “Good morning, this is the pilot….” and then switch off and leave us hanging. So many times I am on a plane and the pilot will start to make an announcement, only to suddenly stop. Most unnerving is when they stop at critical junctures, like our destination. “Good morning folks! We’ll be on our way to [switch off….long pause] Los Angeles just as soon as we are cleared for takeoff.”

4. No Technical Difficulties Announcements: Why the hell do they tell us that they are sorry for a delay, but they are fixing a mechanical error, and it should be completed in a few minutes and we should be on our way. Tell me you are waiting for the luggage to be loaded (fine) or waiting for snack cups to be delivered (fine). Don’t tell me we are sitting in this plane, take off delayed, because there is a mechanical issue or electrical issue. Just don’t.

5. Do Not Disturb the Pilot: If I asked a flight attendant a question, I don’t expect him or her to call the pilot. On our last trip to Florida, I wandered to the back of the plane and hung out n the galley with Madeline. I asked the flight attendant when we would be landing and he said “Hold on. I’ll check” and proceeded to intercom to pilot. DO NOT disturb them! Don’t you know they are busy keeping us alive? I don’t want my legacy to be a black box recording of a pilot saying answering my timing questions.

6. Don’ Use Jargon: The pilot said that our takeoff was delayed today because of “sequencing in New York.” Now does he really expect that anyone on the flight other then himself and his crew knew what that meant? Is that the new word for “circling the airport?”

That’s all I can come up with now.

We are back, safe and sound, and I am watching the RNC and sitting here typing this. The girls were pretty damn good on the plane. Both were great on the way down. Coming back, both were a little harder to contain, but that is because they just spent a week at the paradise that is Nana’s house, with the lake and two pools and driveway rocks and a sprinkler and grass and docks and fish and car rides to Target every day. They were running and playing and frolicking from the minute they woke up until the minute they went to bed. We had a great time. The girls had a great time.

Some Sticky Notes: Madeline hugged Avery for the first time. The both loved being in water. Madeline is fearless, and runs down the beach into the lake, without stopping. Avery spent a little more time paying with the sand. But both were little guppies.
Avery loves playing Peek-a-boo, and covers her eyes accordingly. Madeline covers the back of her head. Both are officially off diluted juice and are now drinkers of only milk and water. Both seem to enjoy cats. Madeline says MOM (more like ma-hum) a lot; Avery says words that sound like Mommy, Happy and Baby, but not really in context., as much as I want to think she is. Both are much more interested in books (thank God) and bring them over to us when they want them read. When I ask Madeline is she wants to go for a ride in the car, she will walk through the kitchen and into the garage and to the car. Both hand me their pacifiers before they get out of their crib because they know pacifiers are just for night-night. 15 months and 2 days. Where does the time go?

Most people have busy summers. We have a busy fall, a very busy fall. Things are going to get a little hectic round these here parts very soon. But before all that, Nicole will be off to London for work for a week. How how how how am I supposed to do it all alone?

I just bought that new book American Wife and can’t wait to read it. I read Sittenfeld’s first book (Prep) and loved it. American Wife should be interesting, politically, that is. Interesting timing.

Tune in tomorrow for even more disjointed ramblings.

Pictured above, pictures.

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10 thoughts on “>Things I Don’t Want to Hear on a Plane: A Fearful Flyer’s Manifesto

  1. >I see your list and raise you one more: I don’t want to hear from the pilot AT ALL. I don’t want to be greeted by the pilot when entering the plane, I don’t want to know the pilot’s name, nothing. Because that all just reminds me that the person ostensibly keeping this plane in the air and, accordingly, keeping me alive, is just that: a person. Like me. Who makes mistakes. Uh-uh. No way.

  2. >welcome home! Those photos are adorable.I was once on a plane where the pilot told us we would be going way up in altitude to "miss a couple of planes in our way"- SAY WHAT?!!? PLEASE let me know what you think of American Wife. I just read the review in EW & it looks good. I read Prep as well and felt like the end was kind of crap, but I enjoyed her tone.

  3. >I have a horrible fear of flying, and always have. Fortunately, since I don’t travel with children, I can “drink heavily” before boarding which helps alot!! I really hate to hear any announcement once we are airborne, that “bing bong” sound alerting that we are going to hear something always gets my heart racing. And that deceleration of the engines when we are finally at the right altitude ALWAYS scares me. I’m always just sure that the engines have quit altogether. Okay, so drinking heavily doesn’t totally help…The “sequencing” just means that they are waiting for their turn to land. I agree that they should speak in laymans terms, but they get so used to using the proper “jargon” to the tower. I would bet they use those terms when speaking to their families!My hubs is an Air Traffic Controller, and when people ask him if he flys planes (which most of them do)he always says, “no, it’s very dangerous”. GREAT!The girls are beautiful!!

  4. >I have a horrible fear of flying, and always have. Fortunately, since I don’t travel with children, I can “drink heavily” before boarding which helps alot!! I really hate to hear any announcement once we are airborne, that “bing bong” sound alerting that we are going to hear something always gets my heart racing. And that deceleration of the engines when we are finally at the right altitude ALWAYS scares me. I’m always just sure that the engines have quit altogether. Okay, so drinking heavily doesn’t totally help…The “sequencing” just means that they are waiting for their turn to land. I agree that they should speak in laymans terms, but they get so used to using the proper “jargon” to the tower. I would bet they use those terms when speaking to their families!My hubs is an Air Traffic Controller, and when people ask him if he flys planes (which most of them do)he always says, “no, it’s very dangerous”. GREAT!The girls are beautiful!!

  5. >I have a horrible fear of flying, and always have. Fortunately, since I don’t travel with children, I can “drink heavily” before boarding which helps alot!! I really hate to hear any announcement once we are airborne, that “bing bong” sound alerting that we are going to hear something always gets my heart racing. And that deceleration of the engines when we are finally at the right altitude ALWAYS scares me. I’m always just sure that the engines have quit altogether. Okay, so drinking heavily doesn’t totally help…The “sequencing” just means that they are waiting for their turn to land. I agree that they should speak in laymans terms, but they get so used to using the proper “jargon” to the tower. I would bet they use those terms when speaking to their families!My hubs is an Air Traffic Controller, and when people ask him if he flys planes (which most of them do)he always says, “no, it’s very dangerous”. GREAT!The girls are beautiful!!

  6. >glad you guys had a great time! we also go to florida regularly for both my in laws and parents houses and there is non stop activity with the pools and other fun stuff. i had to comment though to let you know how much i enjoyed your fearful flyer’s manifesto. i read much of it out loud so that my wife could laugh too. she travels a good bit on business and does the same obligatory texting upon take off and landing because of my neurosis. i was glad that she could see others share in the insanity. i have ridiculous anxiety since having our daughter about flying too so your experience definitely resonated.hysterical!!

  7. >My husband is a rather fearful flyer, despite the regular transatlantic jaunts he used to do for business and to visit me in the States. I think now that we have a kid, he worries about what could happen (however minimal the chances) and how that would affect our daughter. I’m the same way, but oddly enough not concerning planes.I love number 1. I’ve never noticed it until now, but it’s true, they ALWAYS say that. As for number 2 – that is one I notice. Since almost all the flying I do is overseas, I really don’t need to hear as soon as I get on the plane that there will be turbulence ahead when I’m going to be in the sky for almost 8 hours. Ugh.Also, adorable pictures. As always!

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