So I flew Southwest for the first time this weekend. To borrow some Latin from Gary Leff: (post hoc ergo propter hoc) I won’t say that this story could have only happened on Southwest, but I couldn’t help but wonder…
To set the scene, BWI, Thursday September 5, awaiting flight 417 to Charleston. About an hour before the flight a “gentleman” dressed in cutoffs, flip-flops, a wife-beater, and an open Hawaiian shirt comes staggering down the terminal. A cloud of stench surrounds him on the aura of cigarette smoke, 3 day old “musk”, and Natural Light. Celebrity he most resembles, Nick Nolte’s Mug Shot.
While he staggers, he is shouting. Through the incoherence, I decipher the word “cigarette”. Finally I recognize a pattern. He is weaving from employee to employee asking where he can go to smoke a cigarette. The employees, including (THIS IS IMPORTANT) some at my gate, direct him back outside of security.
Well, Mr. NNMS was having none of that as he needed his nicotine RIGHT NOW. In his infinite rum fueled wisdom he decided the best course of action was to attempt to open the doors to multiple jetways to get his smoke on! Fortunately none of them were unlocked or he would have met the ground with a big SPLAT.
At this point he caught the attention of security and was asked to leave the concourse. Well, that was fun, (but is over) …or so I thought.
UNTIL I GOT ON THE PLANE AND THERE HE WAS!!!
I actually didn’t notice him, being distracted by the open boarding process, until he lurched past my (2nd to last) row towards the bathroom and immediately (you guessed it) LIT UP A CIGARETTE!
Then things really got fun…the smoke alarm went off, multiple cop cars showed up all around the plane, and Mr. NNMS was finally dealt with for good.
The flight attendant was so distressed by the incident that cabin service was totally derailed. Only the aisle got drinks on our flight, and peanuts were kind of thrown at me, but frankly I didn’t blame her. The entire flight my lungs burned with the smell of the formaldehyde-ish disinfectant that was worse than the cigarette scent.
But the question remains: how in earth was this ticking time bomb allowed to board in the first place? It’s against FAA Regs, but more importantly common sense. What if he had blazed up in flight? What if we had to divert? Who would have had to restrain this guy?
What would you have done if you had seen this man aboard your flight?