Upfront warning: this is a totally random tangent.
To me it’s amazing how safe flying is. While the autopilot does a lot of the work nowadays, there’s still a huge human element involved, and given the volume of flights there are on a daily basis, it’s all a miracle.
For the most part we interact with gate agents and flight attendants when flying. We often don’t think of the “behind the scenes” people — pilots, mechanics, etc. — who make our travels smooth, and most importantly, safe.
While it doesn’t happen all the time, often you’ll see a pilot standing at the door upon deplaning. For several months now I’ve had a habit whereby if I see a pilot standing at the door upon deplaning I’ll say “thanks for the safe ride, I appreciate it.”
My point isn’t at all to say “isn’t that nice of me?” (that’s hardly the case), but rather to mention how odd I’ve found the reactions from pilots. I said it on a flight last week, and the captain’s response was “thanks… nobody has ever said that before.”
During my nine hour flight from Washington to Dallas the other week, the captain came into the cabin and virtually everyone was angry at him, despite the fact that he was doing an amazing job keeping passengers informed, perhaps much to his own detriment (the more updates he provided, the more agitated passengers were getting).
I was rather amused by the delay and certainly didn’t think it was the captain’s fault, so I said “thanks for keeping us informed and safe, I appreciate it.” His response? “it’s nice to know not everyone hates me today… thanks.”
Anyway, the point of this post is simply to say that I’m incredibly grateful for all the pilots that fly us safely around the world day in and day out, and the reactions to a quick thanks have been surprising. Give it a try sometime when the pilot is standing by the door. Let’s get to the point where pilots aren’t caught off guard when we thank them for keeping us safe in the skies.
Just my two cents…