Welp, I did it, Internet. At the ripe old age of 26 I took my first trip by myself, ever. I am officially a big kid. The stories I accumulated over the course of the weekend run a bit long, so I’m breaking them up into bite-sized pieces. Part 1 follows. To read Part 2, click here.
Last Friday, Jan. 10, I left work and instead of driving home I parked my car at Love Field and flew out of Dallas, Texas, to Nashville, Tennessee, for my first trip of 2014. The adventure started as soon as I boarded the plane.
Southwest Airlines has an open seating policy. You get a ticket with a letter/number combo based on when you check in for your flight and your priority status, then you line up in that order at the airport and have the privilege of sitting wherever you damn well please. I like to take an aisle seat, if I can get one. That way, I don’t have to bother anyone if I need to use the restroom. (I have recently discovered that I have a nearly debilitating dislike of inconveniencing others, and, yes, always picking the aisle seat is completely enabling that unhealthy tendency, but, believe me, I’m still totally working on it.)
I sat next to two tech-savvy ladies in their late sixties or early seventies. They were both on their smart phones and I was impressed. Not long after that, I was appalled.
The flight attendant came on and announced that we were about to taxi off the runway and asked that everyone do mumble-mumble-mumble-typical-instruction-jargon with their electronic devices. I was only half-listening, the way I usually do during standard pre-flight safety instructions because I’ve heard them a hundred times. I was dead certain that the flight attendant had told us all to turn our devices completely off and stow them away, as they always have when I’ve flown in the past, which I did because I am nothing if not a rule-follower. Then, one lady leaned in and asked the other lady, “We don’t have to turn them off, right? Just put them on airplane mode.”
“That’s right,” assured her friend.
I balked. Oh man. I was about to watch these ladies get in so much trouble!
A flight attendant passed through the plane one last time looking for rule-violators, and I waited expectantly. But she walked right by them. I couldn’t believe it. So I sat there, flabbergasted, while they played on their phones the duration of the takeoff.
And the flagrant flouncing of airline regulations did not end there.
As those of us who have flown may know, the pilot has to reach a certain altitude before us passengers are allowed to “mill about the cabin.” This is for our own safety, and the safety of those around us, as I have been told in the past by a flight attendant (from a different airline) who threatened to have me arrested upon landing because I deigned to get up before the fasten seat belt sign was turned off, and then maybe also disobeyed the first order to sit back down….but only because I really, really needed to pee. Different story for a different blog post. The point is, disobeying an order on a flight is a criminal, federal offense. Shit’s serious.
So, when the lady sitting on my left asked me to move so she could get by and use the restroom while the sign was still very clearly illuminated, I was appalled. The pilot had literally just announced to everyone that we couldn’t get up yet. But, when a real adult tells me, an adult-in-training, to do something, I do it. I got up to let her out while thinking, surely, this is the moment when she’ll get her comeuppance. (Or something similar, because who ever really thinks of the word “comeuppance”? )
I was wrong. The lady breezed by the kindly Southwest flight attendant without her so much as uttering a half-hearted, “Halt! You shall not pass!” and later sat back down with a similar lack of fanfare.
So, I decided to look into this. After further research, apparently on Southwest you actually can keep your phone on and in your hands during takeoff if it’s on airplane mode, which explains the first incident and its lack of repercussions—but the not-getting-up rule is still totally a thing! After much reflection, I have decided it just goes to show that with age comes the privilege of sometimes giving the rules the middle finger without being threatened with federal charges. I look forward to it.
It was about 10 p.m. before I got to the hotel and I was too tired to go out but not too tired to get really excited about the fact that I was about to stay in my very own room. Not one that I’d booked with six girls for a bachelorette party where I’d be lucky to find a corner of a pullout sofa bed to crash on, no, this one was my very own. The first thing I did after I shut the door was lay down on the king-sized bed starfish-style and try to touch all four corners. I couldn’t, and it was bliss.
Stay tuned for more about my debut trip this year, including my poor decision to rent a bicycle in hilly Nashville, TN, the best drink I’ve ever tasted and only had to wait 45 minutes for, and the worst pick-up line I’ve ever had the misfortune of receiving.