Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Angelenos: Please Don't Be Such Slobs!

Californians, and people from LA in particular, have a bit of a bum rap in the Pacific Northwest. A lot of native Oregonians are bitter about them selling off their overpriced Californian property and coming up here to pay cash for big estates, inflating our housing prices and pushing many natives out of the market at the same time that previously sleepy towns like Bend explode in population and lose a lot of their charm in the process. While proudly announcing that you're a LA transplant probably won't provoke any verbal insult, many a Northwesterner is thinking: "Big house. BMW Z4 owner. Trophy wife. Spoiled kids. Loopy. Self-absorbed. Bad driver. Go home!"

I have nothing against Angelenos myself. I lived there for a few years and generally enjoyed it. Everybody I met there was pretty laid back and friendly, even if they needed the occasional reminder that there is life outside LA. In the aviation blogosphere, we have several Angelenos including Ron and GC, both of whom have written about some of the factors that have prompted the northward migration. But I do have one bone to pick with the fine citizens of Los Angeles. Ya'll are a bunch of freaking slobs.

After each flight, I usually help the flight attendants pick up and cross seatbelts. On most flights, there will be a few pieces of uncollected trash and newspapers to pick up, and maybe a little Bisseling to do. On any flight that originates or arrives in LA, though, you can pretty much count on heavy duty cleanup. We're talking plastic cups and food wrappers in seatback pockets, snotty kleenixes on the seats, newspapers everywhere, three unfolded blankets per occupant, scattered food trampled into the floor. We're talking utter destruction. To get the cabin really clean again would require every minute of our 40 minute turn.

We're not talking LA-Guadalajara flights here. These routes are LA-Sun Valley, LA-Arcata, LA-Bend; the seats are filled with well groomed people wearing stylish clothes and expensive sunglasses. I suspect many of these people are well off - many have second homes in Sun Valley or Bend - and probably have the education to match their salaries. Yet, these people have apparently never in their lives been taught to freaking pick up after themselves! That, or they've become too used to having a maid to pick up after them.

It's really quite simple, folks. Every flight we operate into LA is over an hour long. Our flight attendents finish their snack and beverage service early, and then make numerous passes with the trash bag. Rather than wedge that snotty napkin into the seatback pocket for me to pick up (or the next passenger to find!), it's very easy to reach over to the aisle and deposit it in the flight attendent's trash bag. Ditto for the Big Mac wrapper. And we'll be more than happy to recycle that newspaper for you. Also, please use caution when shoveling that snack mix into your mouth to ensure that half of it doesn't end up on the floor to be ground into the carpet.

Come on, people. Would you trash somebody's house this way after they invited you over? I realize you paid good money to fly on us - and I'm grateful, I really am - but that doesn't mean that the rules of etiquette suddenly no longer apply. I've held my tongue for a long time but the destruction you visited upon the cabin of aircraft 401 last night put me over the edge. I'm not asking for much. It's really no more than a Kindergarten teacher expects of her five year old students. Just extend us the common courtesy of picking up after yourselves.

Thank you!


Anonymous Ron said...

You won't get any arguement from me! I am definitely on record as being wistfully reminicent about the days when air travel was a special event, replete with excitement, good manners, and a level of attire you rarely anymore, even in first class.

It doesn't help that airport capacity is so strained that this garbage dump mentality probably begins the minute you step onto LAX property.

I wonder if there's an east coast equivalent for your experience. New York, perhaps?

I will add that I recently flew into Portland commercially, and thought the airport there was one of the nicest I've been to. Reminds me of the way SNA was before Orange County grew to the point that it had to serve four million residents.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Jaime said...

darn, and I liked to play hide the garbage on my flights :) Thought I would finally post a comment on your blog. Hope all is well Sam. Plus, before I decide to shove my snot rag or a vomit bag in the tiniest of crevices; I will think of this blog.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Funny, as just this past weekend I posted an entry on my recent flight experience with rudeness.

It's really sad that people can't even pick up after themselves. It's not that tough.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Hamish said...

Wow. Not to be too snide about it, but that sounds like the way Americans in general are perceived in my native land(s)... I think it's broader than the LA or California Thing.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Flygirl said...

I could not have said it better myself! I just worked a DIA to PSP flight the other day and although I miss so much the great weather found in Cali destinations I quickly remembered why I HATE these trips...MESSY, RUDE PEOPLE!!! Thanks for the honest post...I can only hope that some of my own future passengers are reading it!

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live out there, and I noticed that getting on the plane at LAX was always MUCH more stressful than getting on the airplane to go back. Apparently everybody in LA feels they have the need to pre-board.

I suspect the attitude is more "Well I'm paying for service, might as well get my money's worth".


2:05 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Hamish: There is definately a marked difference between our SoCal flights and our flights to Montana, the Pacific Northwest, Canada, or even northern CA. The Angelenos are more slovenly by far, and the FAs report they're generally more demanding as well.

So far as this being an American thing: Perhaps Qantas flight attendants notice that flights to the US are messier and more chaotic than flights to Rome, Mumbai, or Beijing...but I sorta doubt it.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Hamish said...

I don't want to push this too far (especially since I'm a Californian in all but passport and accent, and this is really more about stereotyping than anything specific...), but yes, that's exactly what the Qantas FAs I know (and I know quite a few :-)) say -- but it's the attitude thing that gets them the most...

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Traytable said...

Yerp, unfortunately for you guys, the Aussie to LAX or JFK flights are feared by a lot of QF FAs... not so much the messiness but the snotty attitudes..

As for cleaning up... I love tech crew like you!! I am lucky, 99% of the guys at my airline will come back and help pick up trash if they've finished their turnaround duties... once had a v senior 4-stripe hoovering the cabin! priceless!! =)

2:20 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Interesting. OK, I'm done defending the snooty Americans on Qantas flights. My original point - that Angelenos are the worst of the bunch and could really stand a good hard look at themselves - stands. But the reality is that statement could apply to a great many of us in some way or another.


8:07 AM  
Blogger Hamish said...

Well hell, I'm a Northern Californian now, so any time you make snooty comments about the Southern variety, it's fine by me :-).

8:58 AM  

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