Lighting up over a reading lamp on long-haul flight

  • Article by: KERRI WESTENBERG
  • Star Tribune
  • August 4, 2012 - 4:48 PM

Once again, last week brought a bad story about an otherwise good enough flight. A man on an Alaska Air overnight flight from Honolulu to Bellingham, Wash., wanted a woman sitting nearby to turn off her individual overhead light. After flight attendants said that she had the right to read, the man shouted, threw around "the F bomb," and threatened to repeatedly hit the back of the woman's seat, according to the Bellingham Herald blog that first reported the incident.

When the plane landed, the man was met by a local authorities; the FBI may file charges for disrupting a flight. He was released when it became clear that he was (my words here) just a stubborn, petulant crybaby who was probably tired and unprepared for the relative discomfort of flying. He was not a threat to public safety, just public civility.

It's easy to scold (witness my previous two sentences). But anyone who flies regularly has likely been on the verge of blowing. Still, most of us have found little devices to help us through a flight.

Here are a few any would-be crank might employ: Board knowing that it won't be terribly fun; accept it. When frustration flares, breathe deeply and consider what it would be like to hear the words you'd like to spew. Bring along treats such as chocolates and a movie-playing device loaded with that much-anticipated film. Ear plugs and eye masks, too; they may have worked wonders on that Alaska Air flight. Finally, bring along a little reading material. Might I suggest "Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior," in hardback. It's a tome, and if someone starts acting up, you could use it to bonk the offender on the head.

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at

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