I assume that most people my age or older have been on an airplane before at some point in their lives. But after flying to NYC this weekend, I'm now not so sure.
We flew Spirit, a low-cost carrier who allows you to save five bucks on a ticket by giving you a seat about a foot and a half away from the plane's engine. Good times.
We had tickets for the very back of the plane (row 31 of 32), and consequently were supposed to be some of the first people to board the plane. However, that didn't keep fully 70% of the passengers from racing up to the ticket counter when the airline made an announcment for "passengers with special needs, travelling with small children", etc to come forward. The airline guy let some of them on the plane, then made others wait. They announced that people in rows 25-32 should board next. Again, damn near everyone rushed up to get on the plane. The woman in front of me in line was sitting in row 12. The guy behind me was in row 8. They seemed very agitated that the airline guy wouldn't let them on the plane.
Once we were aboard, ran through the obligatory "this is a seatbelt" speech, and were actually in the air I started feeling better. That's the time that an imbecile about five rows ahead of me decided to stand up and start rummaging through the overhead bins. Mind you, we're still only about a thousand feet off the ground, and not only is the "fasten seatbelt" sign on, the flight attendants are still buckled in. One flight attendant got on the loudspeaker and told the guy to sit down. He turned, gave her a confused look and kept on looking through his bag. She told him to sit down again and he pointed to himself like "are you talking to me?" Meanwhile, I'm starting to take off my seatbelt to go beat the shit out of the guy, convinced that he can't possibly be this stupid, and therefore must be a terrorist. She told him again, and he sat down, leaving the overhead bin open. The flight attendant had to run down the aisle to close it.
How exactly does someone not know that you're not supposed to stand up when the seatbelt sign is on, especially
when the plane is just taking off or landing... and ESPECIALLY
when the flight is going to or from New York or Washington. This would have to be your first flight (the guy was easily in his 40s), you would have to have completely ignored all the news stories about 9/11, and you would have to not speak English (it was a white guy who sure looked American to me).
Between that, the boarding clusterfuck, and the flight attendants trying to call each other on the in-plane phones and inadvertantly having their conversation go over the loudspeaker, I was pretty much convinced that I was the only person who had ever ridden on an airplane before.