Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stuff Arabs Like #12: Using the "Hey, flight attendant, I want something" button on airplanes.

We just returned from a vacation in Berlin (which is a totally lame excuse for our ridiculous absence from the blog. Sorry about that). This makes the third time in one year that the Mister and I have been on a plane on which the majority of the other passengers are Arabs. On each of these trips, we've had at least one leg on a plane with mostly non-Arabic people, so I feel we have a good basis for comparison. And on each of these trips, one leg was filled with exponentially more noise.

I don't mean idle airplane chatter. That award goes to the Germans who have prevented me from sleeping on more than one trans-continental flight.

I'm not even talking about the socially-unacceptable thumping of someone listening to their iPod so loud his headphones can't handle it. That award goes to the Americans.

I'm talking about the constant "bing" of fellow passengers pressing the flag-down-the-flight-attendant button repeatedly throughout the duration of the flight.

I think my favorite move was the one that the fellas 3 rows in front of me yesterday on one of my 2 Egypt Air flights pulled over and over: 1). Punch the button, it makes the noise. 2). The flight attendant is in the middle of serving dinner and is trapped behind the food/drink cart, so she can't get to you right away. 3). Punch the button again approximately 2 minutes after step 1. 4). Repeat every 2-3 minutes.

I've seriously never seen this behavior before moving to the Middle East. I've also held the personal policy of only pushing the flag-down-the-flight-attendant button in extreme situations: you have violent air sickness, your neighbor has violent air sickness, a medical emergency is in progress, etc. Apparently that tenant of personal behavior hasn't been taught to the Arab travelers of the world.

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