On a British Airways flight from Johannesburg, a middle-aged, well-off white South African lady has found herself sitting next to a black man. She called the cabin crew attendant over to complain about her seating.
"What seems to be the problem, Madam?" asked the attendant.
"Can't you see?" she said, "You've sat me next to a kafir. I can't possibly sit next to this disgusting human. Find me another seat!"
"Please calm down, Madam." the stewardess replied. "The flight is very full today, but I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll go and check to see if we have any seats available in club or first class".
The woman cocks a snooty look at the outraged black man beside her (not to mention many of the surrounding passengers). A few minutes later the stewardess returns with the good news, which she delivers to the lady, who cannot help but look at the people around her with a smug and self-satisfied grin.
"Madam, unfortunately, as I suspected, economy is full. I've spoken to the cabin services director, and club is also full. However, we do have one seat in first class".
Before the lady has a chance to answer, the stewardess continues: "It is most extraordinary to make this kind of upgrade, however, and I have had to get special permission from the captain. But, given the circumstances, the captain felt that it was outrageous that someone should be forced to sit next such an obnoxious person."
With that, she turned to the black man and said: "So if you'd like to get your things, sir, I have your seat ready for you..."
At which point, the surrounding passengers stood and gave a standing ovation while the man walked to the front of the plane
I am a white knuckled flyer, so imagine my angst when upon realizing I was about to fly in one of those little planes that seats only 10, the
seats are folded down, and the only people who can stand erect are 4 years olds or younger. The pilot is about 3 inches from the passengers
and there is no door or curtain separating him from us. I was not a happy
camper. Anyway, when we were lining up to board I noticed a rather disheveled, unkempt middle aged man ahead of us waiting to
board. He looked like he was suffering from a really bad hangover and could have benefited from a good night's sleep, not to mention a drink.
I jokingly remarked to my companion that this guy was the pilot and we were doomed. I was kidding.
Sure enough, after we board who climbs in and takes the pilot's seat? He mumbled, or should I say slurred,
something that sounded like "grunt, blah blah, grunt blah." I never prayed so much in my life.
From: Marcia Weiszmann
Many years ago, long before the resurgence of Midway Airport in Chicago,
my boyfriend and I took his mother to the rarely used airport. I believe only one commercial airline flew out of there then, so the place
was virtually empty of both passengers and employees. Nevertheless, they had curbside service for baggage check-in which his mother
utilized. The next stop was at the ticket counter where she was waited on by the same gentleman who had just checked her luggage outside. We
then made our way to the gate, where, lo and behold, it was the same guy at the check-in counter preparing to load passengers. How he got there
before we did I will never know, but he was always one step ahead of us. I just started laughing and wondered aloud if he was also going to
fly the plane. (He didn't). The funniest thing about this, other than the image of him running surreptitiously from each assignment to the
next in order to keep up with us, was that he acted as though he had never seen us before even though this all took place within 15 minutes.
An award should go to the United Airlines gate agent in
Denver for being smart and funny, and making her point when confronted with a passenger
who probably deserved to fly as cargo.
During the final days at Denver's old Stapleton airport, a
crowded United fight was canceled. A single agent was re-booking a long line of
inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly, and angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He
slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, " I HAVE to be on this flight and it
has to be FIRST CLASS!"
The agent replied, " I'm sorry sir, I'll be happy to try to help you, but I've got to
help these folks first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out."
The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could
hear. "Do you have any idea who I am?"
Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. " May I have your attention please?" she began, her voice bellowing
through the terminal. " We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE
IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to gate 17."
With the folks behind him laughing in line hysterically, the man glared
at the United agent, gritted his teeth and swore "F--- you." Without flinching,
she smiled and said, " I'm sorry sir, but you will have to stand in line for that
EARLY in my flying career, I had my first night flight. Looking down in the darkness, I
asked my instructor what we would do if the engine failed. "Get the plane gliding in
a controlled descent attempt to restart the engine and make a Mayday call," he
explained. "The only difference between day and night flying is that the terrain
below will not be clearly visible, so the aircraft should be headed toward whatever looks
most like a clear area, and it should be approaching into the wind. Conserve the battery,
turn on the landing light when you get close to the ground, and if you like what you see,
land." "All right, but what if I don't like what I see?" My instructor gave
me a compassionate look in the dim cockpit, and said softly, "Turn off the landing
WHILE on duty as a ground hostess at Jan Smuts Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa, I
was directing passengers to the bus which would take them from the terminal building to
the aircraft. I noticed a rather upset elderly woman, apparently on her first air trip.
When her turn came to board the bus, she tried to leave the queue. "You are going to
Durban, madam?" I asked her. "Yes," she replied, "but for what that
ticket cost me, certainly not by bus. "
I USED to work in an airport baggage claim area. One afternoon I unloaded some arriving
luggage on the carrousel conveyor belt. A few seconds later the belt jammed when the first
suitcase wedged itself at one of the turns. After I yanked the bag free, the conveyor
started again, and the only way out was for me to ride the belt up to the carrousel. I sat
with the suitcase on my lap to make sure it wouldn't cause any more problems. As I slid by
on the carrousel, a passerby yelled, "Next time, go first-class!"
I AM an air-traffic controller at a small private airport. I was working on a very
wintry day when the temperature was -30°, the wind-chill factor was -55°, and it was
snowing. The pilot of a small plane called me for landing instructions. His aircraft
number was unfamiliar, so, not knowing his destination at the airport, I asked,
"Where would you like to park, sir?" His warm Southern drawl came through the
frigid air loud and clear: "Miami!"
I WAS working on a transcontinental flight when a young child who was traveling with
his mother became irritable and started to cry. A businessman who was trying to catch up
on his paper work pleaded with me to do something about the child's behavior. The mother
and the flight attendants tried to quiet the child with toys and cookies, without success.
A man approached the mother and offered to help. In desperation she agreed. He immediately
started to make funny faces and noises, and the child gradually ceased to cry and
responded happily to the man's expressions. The mother sighed with relief, thanked the
man, and asked if he had children of his own. "I'm not married," he replied.
After a moment he said, "I'm a baby photographer."
THE Air Canada Employee Flying Club was extremely proud the
day the four-seater Cessna 172, newly painted in the airline's colors, was rolled out of
the hangar for the first time. It was tiny in comparison to other planes at the Toronto
Maintenance Base, and flying it made for some interesting radio exchanges.
"Toronto Ground, this is Allegheny 357. I'd like taxi
Ground Control: "Roger, Allegheny.... Hold short, you
have an Air Canada L-1011, an Air Canada DC-8 and an Air Canada Cessna 172 passing in
Allegheny: "Well, I'll be . . . papa bear, mama bear and
the iddy biddy baby bear."
MY HUSBAND and I had a stop-over in Toronto before continuing
to our destination on a commuter flight. It was a rainy night and we were not looking
forward to the bus ride and walk required to board the small de Havilland airplane. After
a long wait the flight attendant finally announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are
sorry for the delay. Air Canada Commuter Flight 1143 is now unloading and we are waiting
for our passengers to be run over by the bus."
AT THE airport my husband and I decided to buy some medical
insurance. The clerk at the counter asked us where we were going. "Puerto
Plata," I answered. "Is that in Mexico?" she asked.
"No," I said, "it's in the Dominican Republic." "Oh,"
she replied, "you'll have to forgive me. I never was very good at geometry."
MY DAUGHTER and two-month-old granddaughter were flying home
to Calgary after visiting relatives and friends in Toronto. As she struggled with all the
luggage and baby paraphernalia after they landed, a big, burly member of the Calgary
Stampeders football club, holding a blanket she had dropped, grinned and said, "You
look like you can use some help!" She gratefully agreed, and he carried most of
her luggage off the plane. As she was thanking him for his help later, he smiled and said
shyly, "I was really hoping you'd let me carry the baby."
I WAS about to take my first airplane trip and expressed my
anxieties about flying to the ticket agent, who reassured me by quoting safety statistics.
Feeling a little better, I took his suggestion and chose a window seat. Then the agent
handed me my ticket. "Now take this to Gate 22," he said with a solemn face.
"That's where we hand out the helmets, scarves, goggles and parachutes."
ON A flight from Montreal to Halifax, a man I know was seated
next to an elderly woman whose head was bowed and whose hands were tightly clasped
together. When the dinner menu was presented she said she would not have anything to eat,
but would prefer to sit quietly till they landed. She added that this was her first flight
and she was terrified. My friend, a veteran air traveler, did his best to assure her of
the safety of flying. The flight was uneventful, but on touchdown the starboard
wheels missed the runway, causing the plane to veer off course and head straight for the
control tower. With engines roaring, the plane lifted off again, and by just a few meters
missed the control tower, whose occupants were clearly seen lying on the floor with hands
over their heads. It was a terrifying few moments, but the second approach and landing
were faultless. When the engines were shut down and the passengers started to
deplane, the woman unclasped her hands and smilingly looked up at my friend. "You
were right," she said, "there was absolutely nothing to worry about on this
ON AN airplane flight, I was skimming through a colorful
safety- information card written in French, Spanish and English. I pointed out to my
dozing husband that the French need just one word - amerrissage - to say "landing on
water." "In English you cannot express the thought 'landing on water' with
just one word," I said. "Splash!" he murmured sleepily.
I WAS on a night flight from a small western city. The take
off path was over a rural valley, darkened except for the lights that twinkled from
occasional farm houses. Shortly after takeoff, the plane's lights began flashing on
and off. Then the pilot announced over the loudspeaker system: "In case you're
wondering why I'm blinking the landing lights, look over to your left and you'll see a
flashing light on the hillside. My youngsters are saying, 'Good-night, Dad' in Morse
code. I'm just acknowledging the message." After a brief pause, the
plane's lights began flashing again. "It's past their bedtime," the pilot
announced. "I just signaled them to go to bed." Sure enough, the lights on
the hillside went out.
PASSENGERS waiting for a flight began to get anxious when the
airplane hadn't arrived half an hour after it was scheduled to depart. The harried agent
finally told us that our plane had been diverted and that arrangements had been made for
us to travel with a rival airline. By the time we sprinted to the other side of the
terminal, frustration levels were high. Finally we were airborne, and drinks were served.
A passenger complained that the other airline served complimentary peanuts. A flight
attendant lightened the mood considerably when she quipped, "With them you get
peanuts. With us you get transportation!"
WE WERE changing planes at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport and
found ourselves coping with long distances between gates. Gratefully we headed towards a
moving sidewalk. As we were about to step onto it, a grizzled gent in a cowboy hat and
boots approached. Wearily shifting the two bulky bags he was toting, he asked, "Can
you tell me if this sidewalk goes to Houston?"
ON A cross-country flight I tried a technique a friend had
recommended for controlling fear. I asked the flight attendant for a magazine, some paper
and a pencil, and proceeded to copy the words on each page of the magazine. It was
tedious, but effectively distracting. Several articles later, the attendant
approached me. "I admire your thrift," she said. "But please, just keep the
magazine — compliments of the airline."
MY WIFE and I were on a late evening flight from Winnipeg to
Vancouver. As we began our descent, most of the passengers were either sleeping or
reclining drowsily in their seats. No one was prepared for the jarring impact as the plane
hit the runway. A ripple of alarm swept through the passenger cabin but concerned faces
soon broke into smiles as the voice of the stewardess came over the intercom: "Good
evening, ladies and gentlemen. Now that we have your attention, we'd like to welcome you
to Vancouver International Airport."
I WAS flying home to spend Christmas with my parents,
my suitcase stuffed with gifts. As it bumped down the baggage ramp, it half opened and my
tooth-brush fell out. I hastily retrieved my suitcase but couldn't catch up with the
toothbrush. As it continued around the baggage carrousel I overheard a passenger say,
"My, that person travels light."
DENNIS and I almost missed our honey-moon flight and were
unable to get seats together. When we were airborne, I wrote my new spouse a note:
"To the man sitting in 16C. I find you very attractive. Would you care to join me for
an unforgettable evening? The lady in 4C." A flight attendant delivered it.
A few minutes later she returned with a cocktail. The man in 16C was flattered, she
told me, but said he must decline my offer since he was on his honeymoon. I was still
laughing when we landed. "Thank you for the drink," I said to my groom.
"But I didn't send you one," he replied. He had been sitting in 14C.
TRAVELING during a holiday period can be especially
exasperating. Our flight had been delayed repeatedly, and passengers in the boarding area
were tired and cranky. The airline staff tried to maintain good humour, but when the plane
was finally ready, one attendant's feelings were obvious. "We are now prepared to
board Flight 128," he announced. "We will pre-board children traveling alone,
parents with small children and the families of husbands who are acting like
UPON boarding a plane, passengers were crowding the aisle,
removing coats and storing them overhead. One of the attendants was trying to move forward
through the crowd. As she struggled around passengers, she muttered, "I feel like a
salmon trying to swim upstream." After a moment, a man's voice asked quietly,
"You know why a salmon swims upstream?"
WHEN I was a pilot for a commuter airline, gusty winds
buffeted our little plane during a landing, giving the passengers a scare. Much to
everyone's relief, we touched down safely in our parking spot, where ramp agents were
anxiously waiting. Unfortunately, in their haste they neglected to lock the mobile
stairway firmly in place. It was an octogenarian who got off the plane first. Walking cane
in hand, he stepped on the stairway. Almost simultaneously, the wind gusted to gale force,
propelling the man and stairs across the ramp towards the terminal. We watched helplessly
as they sailed over the concrete and crashed into a chain-link fence-whereupon the elderly
gentleman stepped off unscathed, tipped his hat to the bystanders and said, "Best
damn service I've ever had!"
A PEPPERY woman at the airline ticket counter was complaining
about the delay in the departure of her flight. "Young man," she snapped at the
reservations clerk, "the way you people run this airline, a witch on a janitor's
broom could get there faster." "Madam," the clerk said, with just a hint of
a smile, "the runways are clear."
WHEN I played with a symphony orchestra, our union reached an
agreement with a major airline about which instruments we could carry on board and which
had to be shipped as luggage. A cellist was dismayed to find that his delicate, expensive
wood instrument was consigned to the rougher handling and cold temperatures of the baggage
hold. He neatly solved the problem. Cello in hand, he approached the flight attendant at
the gate and asked, "May I bring my clarinet on board?" Scanning her list, she
replied, "Clarinets are okay, have a good trip," and, smiling, waved him on.
MY SISTER adopted a scraggly black puppy just before she was
to catch a flight from Kansas to Florida. She made special arrangements with the
airline to take her new pet on the plane. At the airport my sister prepared to
board, carrying the puppy in a case tucked under her arm. To the amusement of fellow
travelers, she was wearing a T-shirt that read:
"Dear Auntie Em,
Hate the farm
Taking the dog
TIRING of the inconvenience of the drive from airport to
country cottage, a man equipped his small plane with pontoons so he could land on the lake
directly in front of his cottage. On his next trip, he made his approach down the
airport runway as usual. Alarmed, his wife cried out, "Are you crazy? You can't land
this plane here without wheels!" The startled husband abruptly yanked the nose up,
narrowly averting certain disaster. Continuing, he landed the plane on the lake without
mishap. As he sat there, visibly shaken he said to his wife, "I don't know what
got into me. That's the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life!" And with
that, he opened the door and stepped out, falling into the water.
MY NIECE, a business executive, booked an early flight to
Dallas to attend a 9 a.m. meeting. After takeoff, the plane was diverted to Lubbock
to pick up passengers stranded by weather the night before. Outraged, my niece
protested that she would be late for a very important meeting.
"MY dear," the elderly woman next to her asked with concern, "are
you really going to a big meeting?"
"Yes, I am," my niece replied, still seething.
"Well, then, I'd better tell you," said her seat mate. "You have
your sweater on wrong-side out."
A FRIEND of mine had been on the road for several days when
he encountered difficulties with his airline reservation. The prospect of not getting home
sent him into a tirade, which the counter attendant endured stoically. After correcting
the error, she pinned a bright airline badge on his lapel and told him to show it to the
flight attendant just as soon as he got on the airplane. Anticipating VIP treatment, he
immediately sought out a flight attendant and pointed to his badge. She looked puzzled,
and asked who had given it to him. "Does it matter?" "Not really, sir,
except normally that tag is used to identify children requiring special attention."
SEVERAL hours into my flight to Vancouver, my 14-month-old
started to fuss. However, he soon found his thumb and settled down quietly in my arms.
A woman sitting across the aisle watched all this with interest, then leaned over
and said, "I have just recently spent over $2000 on my teenage daughter's teeth
because as a child she sucked her thumb a lot." And then, with a contented
smile, she added: "It was worth every cent."
EN ROUTE to Atlanta, the plane my husband was piloting made a
stop in a small town, dropped off passengers and began taxiing back out to the runway.
Just then a flight attendant notified my husband that a man had fallen asleep and missed
his stop. To save time, the crew decided to let him exit down the rear stairs, where
ground transportation would be waiting to take him back to the terminal. The other
passengers watched nervously as their pilot left the cockpit to talk to a man clutching a
suspiciously large briefcase. As my husband opened the rear door and let the man out he
could feel all eyes focused on him. He slammed the door shut, brushed his hands together
briskly and said, "There! Any more complaints about the food, see me!"
The passengers roared with delight.
THE departure check-in area of our local airport is kept
pleasantly quiet, and even the Salvation Army volunteer found that her familiar bells
weren't allowed. As a result, she attracted very little attention during her first day's
duty. The following day, her business was brisk as she waved two signs in the air. One
read "DING," the other "DONG."
A MAN stopped one of the female flight attendants
shortly after takeoff and said, "I've heard the airlines will give people just about
anything to keep them happy nowadays. Will you give me anything to keep me happy?"
"Of course, sir," the flight attendant cheerfully replied. "As long
as it goes in a glass."
As A female airline pilot, I was amused one day by a
passenger's reaction to me. The man had boarded the aircraft and was adjusting his seat
belt when he happened to glance through the open cockpit door. His face paled and he
exclaimed to a flight attendant, "Good grief! Is that a woman up there?" After a
pause, he said quietly, "Well, I guess it's okay-as long as they don't let her touch