Desperate to discourage chatty fellow passengers? At times, not even responding to every attempt at conversation with, “Want to buy my toothbrush?” is enough. But help is on the way, as airlines introduce a new category of service. Mind Your Own Business Class
The premium-tier service offers the expected amenities. Among them are eyeshades, noise-canceling headphones, and monogramed airline socks primarily meant to serve as gags to quiet offending passengers. (In the event of an emergency, apply the gags to adults first, and then to children.)
But early users of Mind Your Own Business Class say there’s one thing they most appreciate. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that specially trained members of the cabin crew are standing by to sew shut the lips of any especially annoying seat-mate.
“For an add-on fee, the cabin crew will even perform the operation on themselves,” said Bob Payne, head of surgical procedures for Air Bob, one of the first domestic carriers to introduce the service.
Payne said Mind Your Own Business Class is proving very popular with Air Bob passengers. So much so that some have begun arranging to fly with the more loquacious among family and friends just so they can surprise them with the lip operation.
The success of Mind Your Own Business Class has been so great, said Payne, that Air Bob is looking into the possibility of creating a similar economy class service.
“The only difference would be that in order to keep costs down, as each economy class passenger who opted for the service boards the aircraft the cabin crew would be standing by in order to surgically remove the tongue of passengers sitting around them,” said Payne.
When not performing surgery for Air Bob, Bob Payne serves as the Editor in Chief of BobCarriesOn.com, the travel humor website that has been offering travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.
Airlines, for reasons most people find incomprehensible, like to boast of record-setting non-stop flights, ranked by hours in the air. The longest flights are currently claimed to be around 17 hours, although as every passenger knows, the real duration of a flight is determined by who sits next to you. The very longest flights include those on which your seatmate is:
Positive you said you would shut the oven off.
Struggling with issues of bladder control.
Louder than an accompanying child.
Returning from a wedding, with photos.
Demonstrably capable of reciting pi to 3,764 places.
Attempting to assemble an unidentifiable electronic device.
We learned today that BobCarriesOn.com is facing a lawsuit by an irate reader who blames us for the severe frostbite he suffered while visiting, allegedly at our recommendation, one of the places featured in a story we recently ran, “The 5 coolest places in America.”
The reader maintains the story should have warned that in none of the places were open-toed sandals appropriate winter footwear. We maintain that he, like far too many Internet users, must have read no further than the headline.
If you missed the story, below are the places we mentioned. Before making plans to visit any of them, please read the descriptions carefully.
Prospect Creek Camp, Alaska
A work settlement during the construction of the Alaska Pipeline, the now abandoned Prospect Creek Camp holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States: -80 degrees F, on January 21, 1971. Tourist attractions include the pipeline’s Pump Station 5, two still-fluttering airstrip windsocks, and what is believed to be one of the largest collections of pre-Internet pornography ever assembled.
Rogers Pass, Montana
Located in a remote wilderness area on the Continental Divide, Rogers Pass holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states: -70 degrees F, on January 20, 1954. Tourist attractions include one of the largest remaining concentrations of grizzly bears in the lower 48, and various garments belonging to previous visitors who attempted to outrun them.
Peter Sinks, Utah
A basin-shaped natural depression allegedly named for a man who would have done well to look elsewhere for a homestead site, Peter Sinks holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Utah: -69.3 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include various locations where it is speculated the would-be homesteader may have succumbed to the elements during his first and only winter at the Sinks.
Riverside Ranger Station, Montana
Pay attention here, because the town of Riverside, Wyoming, is sometimes listed as holding the record for the coldest temperature every recorded in Wyoming: -66 degrees F, on February 9, 1933. But according to the weather website wunderground.com, that temperature was actually recorded at the now non-existent Riverside Ranger Station, which in 1933 was located where the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, now stands. Tourist attractions in the Wyoming town, which has a population of 53, include anybody who can give directions to West Yellowstone, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, eight hours away.
Vail and Steamboat may have their après ski scenes, but the coolest place in Colorado is Maybell, population 72, which is home to the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state: −61 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include the restaurant, the gas station, the general store, and, during the spring, a depth of horse poop today found in few other American communities.
A New York City man who went into a coma more than six weeks ago while standing in a TSA security line at JFK Airport awoke today to discover he was closer to passing through the security line checkpoint.
“At first, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, but then I realized that one of the TSA agents who was putting bags through the scanner had gained at least fifteen pounds since I last noticed him,” said Jeremy Green, a sales representative who medical authorities believe may have suffered a seizure while trying to figure out how much of the cost of his ticket was for actual airfare and how much was for add-on fees.
“Going into a coma while in a TSA security line is an increasingly common condition,” said BobCarriesOn.com Medical Editor Bob Payne. He added that it is also increasingly difficult to catch the condition in its early stages, as more and more families and even businesses are reluctant to report missing passengers for fear that the airlines will respond by charging a fee to check their records to see if the passenger actually boarded.
In related news, another JFK passenger who spent a lengthy stay in a TSA security line was arrested last night for attempting to sell an undercover airport security agent outdated cheese products.
A new study commissioned by the Flight Attendants Union of America reveals that the average age of crying babies on airplanes is 43.
“That’s the age when crying babies begin to forget what it was like to fly with young children of their own,” said Flight Attendants Union of America spokesperson Bob Payne. “But they are not yet old enough to accept that nobody’s going to give them special treatment simply because they find certain of their fellow passengers irritating.”
“The babies you know will cry the most,” said Payne, “are those who come aboard talking loudly into a cell phone, or cradling a specially boxed gourmet sandwich, or already deeply engrossed in their Kindle.”
The average age of crying babies on airplanes has increased steadily, according to the study, ever since airlines introduced ancillary fees for baggage, food service, and armrest use, and began renting ballpoint pens for working on inflight magazine crossword and Sudoku puzzles.
The study notes that one positive effect of the increase in the average age of crying babies on airplanes is that it has become more and more acceptable for flight attendants to sedate crying babies, from the beverage cart, and charge them up to $8 for a 1.7 oz. mini bottle for each administering.
“It has certainly added to airline profitability,” Payne said.
Payne also notes, however, that with the increased average age of crying babies on planes has come the increased risk to other passengers and to cabin crew. It is only natural for babies to cry out when they experience the discomfort, pain, fear, rage, and homicidal impulses that have become a part of flying, Payne said. “But the uncontrolled outbursts that can result in an unscheduled landing are much more likely to come from a crying baby who is middle-aged than one who is an infant.”
An additional finding of the study was that the only place the average age of crying babies on airplanes hasn’t increased noticeably is in the cockpit, where for some time it has held steady at 44.8 years.
When not serving as a spokesperson for the Flight Attendants Union of America, Bob Payne is the editor in chief of the travel humor website BobCarriesOn.com, which has been offering accurate travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.
Airsickness bags, as everyone knows, are proof that some people will collect anything. Airsickness bags are proof, too, that enough people aren’t embarrassed to talk about their collections that there is always a list of top-ten websites on the subject. So here’s the list of top-ten websites for collectors of airsickness bags and their friends, however few.
American Steve “Upheave” Silverberg’s site backs its claim of 2,806 exhibits currently in its virtual museum by posting an image and (often excellent) commentary for all. Here’s what it has to say about an Aegean Airlines airsickness bag illustrated with numbered dots: “Finally, an incredible bag that gives you something to do: Connect-the-dots! The only problem is, the connected dots form a drawing of the female reproductive system.” Steve also claims, although we haven’t tried this yet, that if you contact him he will send you a free three-sample Airsickness Bag Collectors Starter Kit.
Does American Bruce Kelly have the world’s largest online collection of airsickness bags? Perhaps. Does he deserve proper respect for developing his interest as a result of barfing into the bags while flying as a passenger aboard bush planes in rural Alaska? Absolutely. Among his newest acquisitions is a Norwegian Air Shuttle, bag labeled: “In a while will feel fine”.
Britt Paul Mundy’s site is extremely useful for learning about the world of baggists, as collectors of airsickness bags almost universally call themselves. Not only does it list the world’s top 76 baggists (which, you’ve got to assume, is just about all of them), but also details the many non-airsick purposes the bags can be put to (unequivocal goodbye notes, for one), and a link, for anyone who wants to go more deeply into the subject than even a dedicated collector might think necessary, to major airsickness bag makers.
This Danish site, by Thomas Homer Goetz, of Copenhagen, is short on text. But it does include images of some airsickness bags not seen on other sites, including one, from the Aero Club Zwickau, in Germany, that seems to show a pair of planes in such deep dives that all aboard are likely being reminded of what they had for their most recent meal.
From a group of German collectors, the images here make it a good site for checking out the limited edition airsick bags Virgin Atlantic produced back in 2004 for people who like the idea of contemporary art that’s in your face, literally. The site also includes a collection of airplane life jackets, which you hope they didn’t slip into their carry-ons the same way you can an airsickness bag.
Created by Swedish bagist Rune Tapper based on the belief that to get a lot of people to visit a website you have to offer pornography, free music downloads, or something really strange, Rune’s Barf Bag Collection confirms that Scandinavian nights can be really long. The site’s latest acquisition is a bag, from Taiwan-based Eva Air, printed with a message that is easy to puzzle over: “Please treasure resource and use sparingly.”
Federico Mandrile’s site is in Italian, so is more or less unreadable to most of us. I was, however, lost for some time in the contemplation of a mind that would include among a collection of this type a gallery of thirty-six, apparently identical, plain white bags.
Boulder, Colorado-based David Shomper claims that while his airsickness bag collection may not be the world’s largest, it is the world’s highest. After looking at the site, one is inclined to agree. It is one of only a few airsickness bag sites, for instance, to offer original poetry on the subject. Among Shomper-created verse is this:
This site can seem a bit confusing, very possibly because it is written in English and Japanese. But worth the visit is the multi-tasking evident in the Qantas airsickness bags, which were also plainly meant to serve as film-processing envelopes, in the days when people still used film. For instance, you could learn, while bent over with your head between your knees, that processing a role of 36 exposures cost $5.95, Australian.
This site looks like it hasn’t been updated since about 1998. I wasn’t really finding myself engaged until I came to: “The Amazing Adventures of Bob the Really Boring Barf Bag,” which is when I decided it was probably worth consideration. And I was feeling it even a little more when I got to the FAQ section and learned that the site creator doesn’t collect used airsick bags because they tend not to fit flat in albums.