The title says it all: would you approach a celebrity (or other famous person) onboard an airplane? My friend John and I debated that onboard our Lufthansa First Class flight earlier this week and reached different conclusions.
John reasoned that celebrities like Jane Fonda and Amanda Seyfried are public figures and therefore engaging with the public should be expected, even on airplanes. He really wanted a picture with each of them and saw nothing rude in approaching them, as long as they were not eating, sleeping, or otherwise occupied.
I saw the matter quite differently. I believe our default position should be to leave people alone onboard airplanes. Unlike on the ground, there is no way to escape so it is incumbent upon us to treat others the way we wish to be treated. For me, that means giving them space and letting them relax on a flight. There’s a difference between a casual chat with a seatmate willing to talk and coming up to someone seated in a different row or semi-private suite and starting a conversation or requesting a photo. That just seems rude.
It’s not that I think first class should be a special sanctuary: I would apply the same logic if the famous person was flying business or economy class. Still, one of the considerations of paying for a first class ticket is the seclusion and privacy the cabin brings.
The two ladies on my flight dutifully signed autographs when they reached Venice with smiles on their faces. Still, I bet they appreciated that they could just be people and not in the spotlight, even if just for 10 hours.
Several years ago I flew with Dog the Bounty Hunter and his wife to Honolulu. They were seated in the row behind me and I did turn around and greet them when we landed in Honolulu. It seems to me the issue is not saying “hello” or “goodbye” but rather engaging in unwanted conversation or asking for autographs or photographs. Avoiding (and recognizing) unwanted conversations should be true for everyone, not just famous people.
What do you think? Do famous people have the right to be left alone onboard an airplane? Or am I just jaded from too many unwanted conversations from seatmates over the years?