A family traveling on one of those flights with the automatic TV screens objected, rightly, to their under 10 year old children being exposed to a violent PG 13 movie. (The fact that I think the violence in most PG 13 movies warrants an R rating is neither here nor there. But for the record, the amount of violence we accept as okay is really appalling.) Their entire flight is diverted for a security reason, and they’re removed as being troublemakers or a risk or some sort of malarkey that doesn’t make sense. I’ve been on a flight were someone was removed, prior to take off, for being a real troublemaker, but this situation doesn’t qualify. The parents made a judicious complaint, backed up by their fellow passengers, about what’s appropriate for their children. Even the director of the film, Alex Cross, agrees, which makes sense since he didn’t make the film with a child audience in mind. James Fallows chronicles it all here; he even links to the blog of one of my grad school cohort, Chris Manno, who also happens to be an American airlines pilot.
I do an insane amount of flying. This year, I’ve already traveled to the Pacific Northwest. I’ll be in Northern California in June and in England in July, which actually makes this a relatively light travel year when it comes to flying. (We’re not going to talk about the mileage I’ve racked up on the car.) There have been years we’re I’ve taken four or five trips, more than half of which were work related. I will admit, most of my travel experiences have been banal and fairly pleasant. (The worst was getting to Vancouver in 2009, but that was due to mechanical issues with the plane from FSM to Dallas and a customer service rep who didn’t think as creatively as I did about how to fix the problem. She probably also didn’t realize that I had a different airport to the north of me that I could also fly out of since this conversation was over the phone. If I had talked to a gate agent here, he or she would have known to look at flights from XNA.) But on a plane, you’re in a carefully vacuumed sealed pressure cooker of sorts. I try my best to sleep usually, mostly because I’m a fidgety person by nature and sitting still that long is exhausting. It’s terrifying to think that if I had a legitimate complaint in flight that I could be labeled a troublemaker.