I was understandably jet-lagged and weary when I boarded the evening Delta flight the other night from New York’s JFK to San Francisco International because I’d just arrived on a 12-hour flight from Cairo. So perhaps what I experienced on the flight home was colored by the fugue state I was falling into. But I don’t think so.
The flight was 1/3 full, and of that 1/3, at least half seemed to be friends who were scattered about the plane. They were jabbering in a language I couldn’t identify. My best guess was Russian, second best was some other Slavic language, third best was Hebrew but I’ve heard enough Hebrew to be pretty sure it wasn’t that.
These people kept getting up and wandering around the plane no matter what was going on, starting as soon as we pushed back from the gate. One guy wore a fur-lined cap and overcoat as if he were in Red Square, and he paced up and down the aisle throughout the flight. Another woman did the same, berating (or seeming to) some other guy seated up front. They paid no attention to the seatbelt sign, the flight attendants’ warnings, the captain’s announcements.
Prepare for takeoff? Time to get up and wander around. Turbulence shaking the plane like a damp rag? Let’s get up and see what Natasha’s doing in the back.
They seemed to understand no English, and no body language whatsoever. No matter what the attendants did or said, these folks acted as if the airline staff didn’t exist. At one point an attendant was almost begging a guy to sit down because of turbulence and I found myself, in my whacked-out jet-lagged state, wishing he’d get flung to the floor so the universe would get his attention. It was almost as if they were characters from Night of the Living Dead, true zombies. It was so odd and so literal that I began to feel unnerved, wondering what they might do.
But when we landed they were all in their seats, and they clapped in unison when we touched down safely. But none of that mattered to me. Once the plane’s doors opened I got out of there as fast as I could go.