\"He's Got His Feet Up, He Must Be a Terrorist!\"

I had the worst flying day of my whole life today.

On the first flight of the day, a stewardess told me that I couldn’t use my iPhone during the flight and that it had to be powered off. I told her, respectfully, that it was on Airplane Mode and wasn’t transceiving and that that was OK by FAA guidelines. She insisted that I turn it off. I told her to look up the rule. She did, in the back of the in-flight magazine and then handed it to me to read. I then highlighted the section with my pen for her that indicated that cellphones in “no wireless” mode were totally fine. Instead of acquiescing in the face of hard evidence that she was wrong, she continued to insist that I had to turn it off. Huh?? I’m going to go with the assumption that she couldn’t read, because that’s literally the only thing that makes sense to me.

The second flight was light years worse. I spent the flight reading a book and sleeping. As we were landing, the passenger next to me ripped my BlackBerry from my hands, thinking that I was a terrorist and was about to blow up the plane with my BlackBerry. He said, and I quote, “You could have Semtex in here, man, I don’t know!”. This guy eventually backed down after repeated admonishments from me to give me my phone back and then knew he had made a mistake when I turned it on and it just showed the “AT&T” logo.

I was pretty pissed off, so I called the cops on him when I got into the terminal. They came, gave him and I a hard time, but in the middle of it all, I calmed down and decided I wasn’t going to press charges. The cops then gave me an even harder time, but this guy knew he’d made a mistake and I really didn’t want to have him hauled away in front of his wife and kid.

What really got me is that his reasoning for thinking that I was “acting weird the whole flight” was that I had my feet up on the divider in front of me the whole flight. The stewardesses told me to put my feet down, which I grudgingly did when they came around, knowing full well that I was allowed to do so. When they would leave, I’d just put them back up again, like I always do. One of them threatened me with a “Level 1”, which apparently equates to the cops meeting me at the gate (I’d love to have heard that conversation: “Uh, he had his feet up.” “So?”). However, this is the action the guy thought was so weird, and apparently, so did the rest of the passengers around me. He was able to garner a number of people’s phone numbers as they were leaving the plane, asking for support in his plight to prove that I was “acting weird”. Not so much that I had my feet up, per se, but that I had countermanded a direct order from the flight attendants (which was wrong to begin with).

I fly quite a bit and I know the rules. I know what you can and can’t have in a carry-on bag. I know what behavior is allowed and not on a plane. You have to know these things when you fly a lot just to protect yourself from delusional TSA and airport staff these days. Disagreeing with an arrogant stewardess is not supposed to be any kind of crime; when did it become one?

When did stewardesses come to think of themselves as prison wardens? And when did average Americans decide that people putting their feet up equates to a terrorist act. I’ve noticed that these stewardesses have taken a lot of liberties ever since 9/11 because they can get away with it and people are too afraid to call them on it. These stewardesses aren’t security or law enforcement professionals; they serve drinks, for chrissakes. This is the kind of ridiculous situation that you can have when you let flight attendants make up the rules as they go along and regular people are too scared of the Gestapo to stand up for themselves.

We’re not any safer, people. You just want to think so.