Now that I have caught your attention, let me tell you about a recent flight from Frankfurt to Chicago on United Airlines.
I was seated in the first row of business class upstairs on a 747-400 (nearest the lavs and flight deck) and the cabin was full. As we neared the end of boarding time, I heard a clatter coming upstairs and a large man with a beard like Santa Claus, except darker, arrived at the top of the stairs with a FA, sweating and out of breath, but demanding a seat upstairs.
“I demand to sit upstairs!” he yelled, standing with arms crossed as the FA tried to calm him down. A gate agent came upstairs and he berated the gate agent in German that he had not been assigned a seat upstairs and that he always sits upstairs.
The gate agent was also doing his best to calm him and down and found two non-revs who had been seated upstairs and gently directed them to move downstairs, where there were a few scattered open seats.
You would think the man would be happy — he not only received an upstairs seat, he would have two seats to himself — but he was angry, now huffing and puffing on his mobile phone about “wie schrecklich” (how awful) United is.
Now seated across from me, my seatmate and I could immediately smell him — ugh. Seems from his cell phone conversation he had started the day in Bangkok and barely made his connection to Chicago. Clearly no time for a shower in the lounge…
The overhead bins upstairs on United’s 747-400s are quite small and seconds later he rang his flight attendant call button to complain that he could not fit his bag into the overhead bin (I thought he always sat upstairs?). A FA graciously offered to store it for him in the little storage area adjacent to the stairs, but he objected, saying he needed his things close.
The FA assured him that she would bring back his back as soon as the seat belt light was turned off and he shooed her away with his hands before going back to his cell phone conversation.
Now it was pushback time and an announcement was made to place all cell phones into flight safe mode. He continued his conversation. The same FA came up to him and gently instructed him to finish his cell phone conversation and he nodded and then again used his right hand to shoo her away like a dog.
The safety video started and he remained on the cell phone, finally finishing his call only to start checking e-mail on it. He never turned it off.
My seatmate, a Frenchman or perhaps Belgian, leaned over and with his head shaking in disdain said, “These Krauts are worse than the Americans.”
So we took off and the gentleman did not really like anything on the menu and loudly complained to the FA about that. Still, when the meal came he devoured it like he had not eaten all day and then dropped the tray on the ground, reclined his seat, and promptly fell asleep for the next several hours, snoring loudly of course.
I am not making this up.
I thought that would be the end of this story, but then…about two hours of out of Chicago…he awoke from his nap and decided to change clothes. In the aisle.
First his shirt came off, then his undershirt. He had suspenders on underneath. Those came off too and then his pants. Thankfully his underwear stayed on and he put on a new pair of pants and a clean shirt.
This was the only picture I took…not wanting to violate his privacy too much, but still unable to resist capturing his supreme lack of manners.
All this time my seatmate and I were looking at each other with incredulity. The FAs were downstairs so none of them noticed. He helped himself to the snack cart and returned to his seat, proceeding to play a game on the IFE.
Soon enough the pre-arrival snack came and after complaining about that, he still wolfed that down too.
Oh, lest I forget, the alcohol. He liked it. He drank a lot of it. At least six glasses of wine with dinner along with beer and two GTs. Perhaps he was drunk, but I doubt it.
What would you do in a situation like this? It was so comical I could not bring myself to confront him and it actually was not my business to confront him anyway. But what a deplorable bad act and a reminder that all cultures have those who could use a course on etiquette.
We landed in Chicago and he forced his way past everyone to be the first down the stairs.