Where Blatant Rudeness Is Fully Accepted

In an airplane, of course. Every time I’m flying somewhere (yesterday no exception) and the attendants gently say “May I have your attention please so we can review the safety procedures” not one person listens. On Southwest, three flight attendants position themselves in the plane so everyone can see them demonstrate how to put on the oxygen mask, seat-belt, etc. Look, I’ve flown so many times that I could say the safety stuff in my sleep. But isn’t it a little strange that on every flight I’ve ever been on, during the 2 minute safety overview not one person listens?

I would have thought in a post 9/11 flight world people wouldn’t mind spending a minute thinking about where the exits are, what happens if cabin pressure drops, and the like. Instead, people seem to go out of their way to bury themselves in a newspaper and talk with their neighbors. On Southwest, it is particularly surprising because real humans are the ones asking for attention and real humans are standing right next to someone while that person pays absolutely no attention. On United, on the other hand, it’s a TV which tells you this so it’s easier to tune out.

I have two questions: 1) Why don’t flight attendants strongly say on the microphone “Everyone, yes that means you, pay attention, listen up, this is important. I’m going to wait till it’s quiet.” 2) Can anyone else think of where blatant rudeness is so practiced in America?

3 comments on “Where Blatant Rudeness Is Fully Accepted
  • I don’t think it’s rude to ignore the pre-flight spiel. It’s a legally mandated script that, like you said, we can all say in our sleep. What is rude about not paying attention to something that is repeated over and over only because of regulations?

    I think rudeness occurs on the highways a lot more. People actually act aggressively and dangerous when they get behind the wheel.

  • Re the airline rudeness-I respectfully disagree with your perspective that it is rudeness. Rather I believe it is boredom. Yes, people should listen and like you, many of us can recite the safety chant on our own. As a former teacher that says to me that the airlines need to constantly reinvent the value of a safety message and how it is presented if they want folks to listen. Not only listen, but appreciate the importance of it.

    It is not unlike the Homeland Security color coded warnings…after a while they have little meaning. Americans are inundated with visual stimuli and using a TV monitor was a reasonable alternative and when it first started, people did watch. It is strange to assume that the same thing, said in exactly the same way (inflection, timing, emphasis, pausing, etc.) will continually generate interest and attention over time. It’s a basic marketing concept-reinvent yourself or someone else will.

  • well Ben,

    This is certainly an interesting phenomenon that you have observed about airplanes, however this phenomenon doesn’t surprise me for few reasons:

    1) Most everyone who is on a plane with you these days has flown at least over ten times before in their life. They probably did listen the first times, but now they have better things to do (i.e. reading the Wall Street Journal or responding to the rest of their e-mails on their blackberry mobile devices).

    2) I usually do see some people listening to the message (i.e. some old religious woman from Redding, or some curious little kid with nothing else to do)

    But let’s face it Ben, America is getting busier! We don’t all have the time to listen to little petty messages over and over anymore. We live in a fast-pace world, I mean people fly down to LA on business for the day, people drive to Fresno and back in only a few hours in the blazing heat, people take side business trips to NYC by train while on their on vacation, people feel obligated to drive friends around the city, and people spend time developing blogs to get known around the business world. A mean, people are busy!

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