The absolute most frightening part of air travel is the message over the public address system at the airport that says, “If anyone asks you to carry something for them onboard an aircraft, please report this immediately to airport security.” What’s frightening isn’t that someone would try this. Hell, someone convinced the underwear bomber to strap explosives to his penis. (There has to be a corporate motivational speaking tour available for anyone who can talk another human being into wearing explosives around his loins.) What’s frightening is that this announcement goes out because of the very real possibility that you are about to fly with someone stupid enough that if a total stranger walks up to them and says, “Hey, I have this package that just has to get to New York. Turns out I am not going to be able to make the flight. Be a pal and take it for me?” Someone would actually say, “Sure!”
Though the above is what I dread when flying, it is certainly not the only concern. But amazingly, air travel has seemed to position itself as the one form of transportation that has almost completed negated the risks associated with the actual “travel” portion. Basically, there are plenty of things to worry about, but the flying part does not seem to be one of them.
Common sense would dictate that the most dangerous part would be the actual flying, and that at least a modicum of rules would be in effect during the course of moving near the speed of sound at 35,000 feet. Not so. On my flights, the only rule that seemed to be in place while we were in the air was that we were forbidden to use the first class bathroom. But on the ground, all sorts of rules were in effect: belts fastened, tray tables and seat backs in the “upright and locked position”, (which is the same position you use in the airplane bathroom) no electronic devices, no getting out of your seat until the captain deems it appropriate, keep your hands and feet inside the plane, no breathing, eyes closed, living will tucked into your pocket, etc.
Another rule that is little known but widely followed is that when the plane arrives at the jet-way at the terminal, you are supposed to be infinitely surprised by this event, and only as everyone in front of you has left are you then to start gathering all of your belongings. This of course means standing in the aisle for several minutes while you check the seatback, the overhead compartment, the overhead compartment four rows back and then the pockets of your jacket. At this point, you have to fiddle with the roller bag handle since there is no sense in just carrying it off of the plane, and then stow your magazines in your carry-on after sorting them alphabetically and by publisher. Then and only then can you proceed down the aisle onto the jet-way, where you must stop to rearrange everything one more time, all the while being sure not to let anyone pass you. This is a rule for a very important reason; if you were to get off the plane too quickly, you would have to wait the full ninety minutes at baggage claim to retrieve your luggage. This reduces that wait time to only seventy-five.
Because I am generally a rule-abiding guy, I fairly respect these regulations (though I try to break the one about gathering my things). But I swear, one day I am peeing in the first-class bathroom.