I’ve been responding to some HARO (Help A Reporter Out) travel queries lately, one of which asked for “your funniest aircraft experience.” Since I never heard back from the reporter who requested these stories, I’m assuming he passed on using this one in his piece. Since I still think it’s pretty amusing, I thought I’d share it here.
So, here’s your first (and possibly last) installment of “Inflight Inanity,” silly and surprising stories in aviation:
Back before 9⁄11 happened, my boyfriend and I had traveled to France on some [airline name redacted] tickets, which a friend who worked for the company had passed to us. This was a bit sketchy to begin with, as we had to essentially pretend that we worked for the airline in order to use the tickets, but our trip there had been uneventful and we figured all would be well on our way back.
Unfortunately, however, when we arrived at the airport to return home, the gate agent informed us that the flight was overbooked, and only one of us would be able to board. She asked which of us was going to volunteer to stay behind.
We looked at her like she was crazy.
Which one of us was going to volunteer to be left behind in Paris?! Obviously, neither of us! You can’t separate young lovers in love!
Also, my spoken French isn’t all that hot… and we were out of cash… and I certainly wasn’t about to board that damn Orlybus back to the city and sleep alone in a hostile hostel!
She told us to wait one moment, and she’d find a solution.
After a few tense minutes, she returned and told us to follow her.
But as soon as we set foot on the plane, we were separated. My boyfriend was taken back to coach, while the agent took me towards first class. Was I being bumped up?
“Follow me,” she said, and kept going further up towards the front of the plane.
She finally opened the door to the cockpit, and announced, “We have room for one more up here.”
I was astonished, having never even seen the inside of a commercial jet’s cockpit up close and personal.
“You can sit in the jump seat,” one of the men inside told me, folding down a seat from the wall.
It turned out that I was sharing a cabin with the pilot, co-pilot, and another pilot on vacation. They were all quite friendly, and showed me how to buckle myself into the jump seat (the harness was more like strapping on a parachute than your typical seat belt), and we took off without anyone asking where, exactly, I worked in the airline biz that I had never sat in a jump seat before.
When I finally got a chance to head back and see where they’d placed my boyfriend, I discovered him stuck in the middle of one of the five-across middle rows, looking miserable. I was much happier up front, where the male flight attendant working first class took a shine to me, and brought me ice cream from the first class galley!
It was definitely a memorable end to my trip, particularly being able to see exactly how everything worked during takeoff and landing. A bit scary, too, suddenly having a panoramic view of absolutely everything rushing past those enormous windows. You won’t find that on any Parisian postcards!
Nowadays, of course, they seal the cockpit in case of crazed shoe-bombing hijackers, so there’s no chance I’ll ever get to sit up there again unless I actually become a professional pilot or crew member.
But if anyone ever asks if you’d rather be left behind in Paris or grab the jump seat, definitely grab the jump seat!
Got a story to share?
Ever had something surprising or silly happen to you on an airplane? Let me know in the comments!