Coping with idiots on ground, at 30,000 feet

I have a new hero. His name is Dave (I think; it could also be Dale), and he works at the American Airlines ticket counter in Concourse C at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

More about Dave (or Dale) in a moment. First, I’d like to share a word about modern air travel, and that word is …


Really. If there’s any way you can avoid flying in an airplane I suggest you take it. Use any other means available to you — trains, buses, automobiles, your own two feet. I realize this will burn up a lot of your vacation time, walking to Disney World, but in the end you’ll probably be a whole lot less aggravated.

Of course, it’s easy to blame the airlines for the misery that is air travel, and we’re right to do it. They’ve done everything they can to make airplanes more crowded and more uncomfortable while giving the passengers less for their money.

But we passengers share the blame simply because so many of us act like morons when we travel.

My personal favorites this past trip were:

The young man trying to carry on a suitcase the size of a refrigerator box and insisting to the gate agent that other airlines allow it all the time.

The couple who kept trying to crash the priority boarding line only to be told their boarding pass did not qualify them to get on the plane early. Notice I said “kept trying,” as in they did it more than once.

The “bidness” man who started hitting the flight attendant call button the moment his butt touched the seat and kept it up the entire flight. And for what, you ask? Diet Coke. He wanted a constant supply of Diet Coke from takeoff to landing.

Watching these knuckleheads made me think that gate agents and flight attendants share a great many skills with nursery school teachers. They have to be good at dealing with 3-year-olds.

Which gets me back to my hero Dave (or Dale).

I was standing at the counter, checking two bags. Dave (or Dale) was asking me questions as he typed into his computer. We were in the middle of a transaction, in other words.

All of a sudden a woman comes swooping in from my right, squeezes herself between me and the counter — I mean cuts right in front of me while I am standing there handing over my driver’s license — and says, with a note of panic in her voice, “My plane leaves at 12:30! What can I do?”

I suppose this is as good a time as any to point out that it was practically 12:30.

Dave (or Dale) continued typing.

“I said my plane leaves at 12:30! What can I do?” the woman repeated, this time with a little edge on it.

Dave (or Dale) paused and looked at her.

“You can go to the back of the line like everyone else,” he said.


She was flabbergasted, of course. She let out a gasp of astonishment and then picked up her bag and went to the back of the line.

And Dave (or Dale — boy, I wish I could remember) looked up from his typing, handed me my boarding pass and claim checks, and wished me a pleasant flight. Which it mostly was. And these days, that’s saying a lot.