I’m anti-social, get a psychic reading, and get sniped for “security” reasons

Other than posting meal pictures and mentioning my aircraft “downgrade” on my Sunday night redeye, I didn’t really write anything about my mileage run this past weekend (although a hotel review is on the way, stay tuned). I did, however, have a few fun interactions and observations.

First of all service has been phenomenal on United lately. I don’t know why things would be improving, but I haven’t seen United this good in years. Planes have been clean, I don’t remember the last time I had a delayed flight, and the pilots, flight attendants, and gate agents have been uniformly friendly. I’m really finding it hard to mention anything negative. Keep it up!

It was also one of those weekends where I ended up talking to every flight crew, which is always a great way to pass time. On one flight I had a flight attendant as a seatmate in first class, and she was a hoot. Actually, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever discussed religion and politics with anyone on an airplane (I didn’t initiate it and it’s not usually something I do). It was quite entertaining as she was an ultra-conservative, something you don’t expect from a flight attendant — “I just tell people that if they want the truth they should listen to Rush Limbaugh.” She also gave me a psychic reading. Anyway, it was fun talk to her, and the last time in forever that I can remember talking to a seatmate from takeoff to touchdown.

Speaking of seatmates, this might be a good time to mention that I must be anti-social. It has been forever since I’ve talked to a seatmate prior to sitting next to this flight attendant. There’s only so many times you can have the same, superficial conversation without going senile. Maybe it was fun for my first 500,000 miles, but I’m over it. Don’t get me wrong, when I sit down I smile and say “hi” to my seatmate, but that’s the extent of it. If they want to talk I’m happy to listen (although if I’m not interested I won’t be asking questions back), but I’m still amazed by how bad the timing of some people is. For example, my seatmate on my last flight decided she wanted to start a conversation with me as we were 15 seconds from pulling into the gate and I was checking my email on my phone. Seriously?

Am I the only one? I’ll never be the one to start a conversation because I know that there are days I just don’t want to talk. And frankly I don’t always want to explain that I’m flying eight segments for 36 hours straight just to earn miles. But come up with something other than “heading home?” or “traveling for work?” to start a conversation, please.

On another note, I had one of the best Premium Service crews I’ve had in a very long time this past weekend. I have a bunch of luggage tags on my laptop bag, including a United strap that many flight attendants have (it’s not the crew tag, but just a strap that says “UNITED”). As I sat down in seat 6C on my Premium Service flight I was approached by one of the flight attendants, who I remembered flying with before, and he said “don’t think I’m not vigilant, I see that tag. You know we’re supposed to pay extra close attention to security now. Do you work for us?” I just smiled and didn’t respond. He came back shortly thereafter and said “OK, fine, so where’s the flight attendant based that you’re sleeping with?” I just responded with “for security reasons, I can’t tell you.” Well, eventually I had to explain why I had the tag — he said that was the only way I was getting my meal choice. 😀

Anyway, it was a fun weekend of flying and it always makes me happy to see United running so smoothly.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Just finished a trip to Canada this past weekend – and also noticed that the planes were consistantly cleaner and all the flight crews were cordial (and this was in steerage plus). Hope it’s not just a blip!

  2. LOL, I know what you mean about seatmate conversations! This weekend, I had taken a red-eye from LAX-ATL, and then in the morning, continued on my last segment to get home. During my last flight, the guy beside me kept talking to me about his new job, and how he’s going to travel a lot for it, etc. When he asked me where I was coming from, I said, “I just came in on the red-eye from LA, and I’m excited to finally be seated on this plane because I can get a little more sleep before heading straight to work after landing”.

    He didn’t catch the hint. I’d start to fall asleep, and then he’d initiate another conversation. It eventually reached a point where I pretended to be sleeping, so he’d stop talking to me.. so I’d be able to sleep for real. And it worked. 😀

  3. So you’re not going to spill the beans about your psychic reading? Did she see travel in your future? 😉

  4. I just had the anti-social conversation with a friend over the weekend. I am just like you – I rarely talk to my seat mates and almost never start conversations myself. When I travel for work my job requires me to engaging, friendly and “on my game” with people I barely know. By the time I hit the plane, I just want to recharge and not socialize. Let me read my book and enjoy my warm nuts – then I’m a happy camper.

  5. I’m anti-social a lot too. I usually just plop myself down and start staring out the window with my ear buds in. I can’t hear much through the Shure ear buds so I have to take them out to listen to a conversation. You’d think people would get the hint after I turn away from the window, take out my ear bud, say “what?”, then put the ear bud back in and turn back to the window. I’m not antisocial, I just like staring out windows.

    I think the movie Fight Club summed it up pretty well: they are single serving friends to go with single serving shampoo and salt shakers.

  6. Is it possible that a lot of the improvement with the inflight experience is facilitated by reduced traffic and increased block times allowing for generally easier and lighter operations? Then again I generally think UA is fine until something goes wrong, so I am not as naturally talented a reviewer as many are.

    When it comes to conversations, I am not a very social person (don’t go clubbing say, and am married) but for a young person (under 30) I have always been the kind of older folks find easy to talk to. I find it has been very rewarding to engage my seatmates in a bit of conversation. My strategy is usually just to at some point during boarding ask something like “headed home?” or “headed out for business?” depending on my best guess. Usually we have one of those in common, or that way we find out a bit about each others occupations and why we are traveling. I do it in a super casual way and that way there is no real burden to keep the conversation going. I am always surprised how often on a long trannscon (SFO-BOS usually, which is a great route for interesting people I think in E+) it germinates into an interesting conversation. I have met some real interesting people, interesting businesses, fellow engineers, high-up political people, etc. and learned stuff about the world I wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Then again, sometimes you get the seatmate that starts hugging you saying she is afraid it looks like the plane has stopped moving when she looks out the window. Then you have to have a whole different type of conversation … about how a plane works.

  7. Agree with SFOtoBOS-I generally find on average its worth trying to talk with my seatmate. On the upside, you get a very interestingfun conversation. On the downside, it just doesnt go anywhere. Im not socially inept to the point where I cant tell when someone else isnt interested in talking. If they dont want to talk, I stop.
    Now I wish all MY seatmates were as good at sensing when I dont want to talk to them 😉

  8. “I just tell people that if they want the truth they should listen to Rush Limbaugh.”
    This is when I would have closed my eyes (as I was rolling them). Haha.

  9. I know you don’t spend any time in coach, but I frequently do, and on several recent longer flights the purser has come back to thank me for my loyalty to United as a 1K and offered me (and my travel companion!) a drink from the first class cabin. I am thinking this is new but maybe they have always done it??? In any case, I love love love this gesture.

    As for chatty seatmates, I never stop talking and I know it is bad to narrate my every thought but I am a Pisces so perhaps that is my excuse. I appreciate that it can be annoying but I just can’t help myself – I love small talk. I try to bring a book, wear earbuds, or drink a lot (although sometimes this has the unwanted effect of making me talk more and more loudly).

    So I was thinking more about this seatmate who starts a conversation at the end of the flight. Maybe she is a nervous flyer who was all chilled out on some anti-anxiety meds and in the zone so not talking but just started to come around as you landed and decided to say hello. 🙂

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