If there’s somewhere you want to visit, flying is safer than driving.  That’s what they tell you.  Yet when we get on a plane, they give a whole safety speech.  Which we don’t pay attention to, because flying is safer than driving.

We figure, “This stuff isn’t going to happen.” 

Well, things happen.  Things happen that aren’t even in the safety speech.  You have no idea how much they shorten it.  I teach high school, and it used to be that every time something happened in class, I added it to the next year’s set of rules.  And not only did it make the speech longer, but at some point I felt like I was just giving the ninth graders ideas. 

“Don’t jump out the window.” 

“People can jump out the window?” 

But here are some of the disasters that could happen that they don’t mention: 

You could get sucked out the window.

Take the passenger in Manchester who opened the plane’s emergency exit thinking it was the bathroom.

I’m not sure how she did this.  The exits are clearly marked.  See, which is why you’re supposed to listen to the flight lecture.  You’re like, “If I thought the plane might crash, I wouldn’t have gotten on.  When am I ever going to use the emergency door?” 

As soon as you have to go to the bathroom, possibly.

The good news is that the plane was still taxiing along the runway.  The bad news is that she couldn’t just say, “Whoops!  Sorry!” and close the door.  As soon as she opened it, the slide deployed.  The flight was delayed 7 hours. 

HOW TO PREVENT THIS SITUATION: Bathroom doors say “No smoking,” whereas exit doors don’t.  There are no long-term health risks associated with smoking while plummeting to your doom. 

PLAN B: When visiting the facilities, always wear a parachute.

Everyone else could disappear.

Take the woman who fell asleep on an Air Canada flight and woke up after midnight to find herself alone in an empty plane nowhere near the terminal.  In case you’re wondering how thoroughly they clean the planes after each flight.

Anyway, her phone was dead, and she didn’t want to open the emergency door, because no one likes that person.  So she opened the regular door and sat in the doorway trying to signal someone with a flashlight she’d found in the cockpit.

Why do pilots keep flashlights in the cockpit?  Is it in case there’s a blackout?  In midair? 

HOW TO PREVENT THIS SITUATION: Always fall asleep on the shoulder of the person next to you. 

PLAN B: Once you’re in the cockpit, mess with the settings of the pane, like you did as a kid.  Turn on the windshield wipers, put the radio on loud, blast the A/C, and scare the pilot the next time he turns on the plane.

You could be seated dangerously close to the bathroom.

Take the passenger in Indonesia who boarded a plane to find that her seat assignment was in the plane’s bathroom.  The ticket said “35A”, but the plane only had 34 rows.  Row 35 was the lavatory.

And she wasn’t the only passenger assigned a seat in there.  There was also a couple with a small child. 

As you can imagine, they were not thrilled.  They didn’t want to spend the entire flight fielding knocks from passengers who were looking for the emergency exit.  Also, they knew that if they fell asleep, there was no way anyone would find them.  Especially not the cleaning staff.  Plus, the complimentary neck pillows were too thin.

PREVENTION: Always buy your plane tickets from an authorized dealer.

PLAN B: Open the door for extra legroom.

You could end up in a fight.

Take the recent flight that was diverted to kick off two passengers who got into a fight about reclining a seat.  The person in front wanted to go back the whole inch so she could fall asleep and miss her stop, and the person in back didn’t want to lose the inch, probably because his knees were already touching the tray. 

So he’d brought along something called a “knee defender”, which is a clip that you attach to the seat in front of you so the person can’t recline.  The woman in front of him asked him to remove the clip, and he refused, so she threw her cup of water at him.  All 3 ounces. 

I feel the need to mention that both of these passengers were 48 years old.  And probably married.

PREVENTION: Planes should have a reclining and a non-reclining section.  You might want to sit near your family, but people who are asleep don’t know who they’re sitting next to anyway.

PLAN B: Sit in the bathroom.  

There could be contraband on the plane.

Take the following stories, all of which happened in the last year or two:

– A chef flying to L.A. was stopped for having 40 dead piranhas in his luggage.  Which is unfair, because 1. It’s better than 40 live piranhas, and 2. If you can take over a plane with piranhas, you probably deserve the plane. 

– In March, a man in the Philippines was found with 1500 turtles in his luggage.  Who needs 1500 turtles?  What is going on in your life that you need that many turtles?

– A traveler in Miami brought a snake onto a plane, but he put it into a nylon stocking which he hid in an external hard drive.  The passenger claimed the snake was nonlethal, but yelling this on a plane over other people who are yelling is not that effective.

– One passenger attempted to fly internationally with a ten-pound frozen turkey.  (“I didn’t know if there’d be meal service.  I brought enough for everyone.”)

You can’t just bring whatever you want on a plane.  What happens if the guy with the turkey is on the same flight as the guy with the snake?

PREVENTION: Never under any circumstances open the overhead bin.

PLAN B: If you see anything moving, throw the turkey at it.

You could pull a muscle.

Take the recent news article titled, “American Airlines Removes Passenger Who Won’t Stop Doing Pull-Ups.”

I love the phrasing: “He won’t stop doing pull-ups.” 

“Well, did you ASK him?” 


“Should we just wait for him to get tired?” 

“He’s not getting tired!” 

“Should I fake some turbulence?”

I do understand the need to keep moving so your back doesn’t seize up, and they do say to bring something to do on the plane.  What should he do?  Bring weights?  There’s a weight limit for baggage.  Plus, in the X-ray, all his kettlebells look like bombs.

PREVENTION: Put your seat back as far as it will go and do some sit-ups.

TIPS: Smuggle something up there that will scare him, such as piranhas in a clear zip-loc bag.

The plane could be missing a key component.

Take the recent flight from Scotland that was diverted to Manchester because, in the words of a spokesperson, “There was no water for teas and coffees.”

You could tell this is a British airline, because that’s where everyone’s mind went.  There was also no water to throw at anybody.  And Row 35 didn’t flush.

But no, there was no water for coffee, and everyone was getting very irate, for some reason.  Also, if there’s no coffee on the plane, everyone will fall asleep and no one will wake them up when they get to the airport.  They’ll just park the plane with everyone on it.  Unless the pilots fall asleep, in which case the entire plane will overshoot the airport. 

PREVENTION: If you need to stay awake, do some pull-ups or something.  Unless you’re the pilot.

PLAN B:  Show people your snake.

You could dehydrate.

Take the Scottish father in July who opted to put on 15 layers of clothing rather than pay the airline’s excess baggage fee. 

Jews and Scottish people: We’re not that different.

Now on the surface, this seems silly, because if the fees bother you, you can mail most of your clothes to yourself.  You’re not going to need 15 pairs of pants on the first day. 

But it turns out that this man was actually coming back from France, when he was told that he had too much luggage.  So this guy, who decided he’s already spent too much on this vacation, started putting on layers right there at the baggage counter.  Some of these layers probably weren’t even his.  These are the sacrifices some fathers make.

My question is, where were all these clothes when he flew TO France?  This would never happen with Jews, because when we fly home, there’s a big gap in our suitcases for souvenirs that, on the way there, was taken up by food.  But I could see us getting stopped because we had too much food, and standing there at the baggage counter trying to stuff it all in.  These are the sacrifices some fathers make.

PREVENTION: Extra clothes takes up more space than just bringing some change for the laundromat. 

PLAN B: If you’re going to wear layers, fly in the winter.

There’s bacteria everywhere.

In July, a man on American Airlines was spotted using the touch screen in front of him with his bare feet. 

American Airlines.  Write that down.

I do get it, though.  Sometimes when I’m lying in bed and feeling lazy, I use my nose. 

PREVENTION: If you think this may have happened on your plane, don’t use your nose.

PLAN B: See if you can get a seat with a soap dispenser.  There’s one available.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.