Observations from some recent air travel…

Whenever the pilot or co-pilot makes an announcement to the passenger cabin, they always start with, “Folks, from the flight deck…” That makes it seem like they’re physically on some other level than the rest of us, as if they had to take an elevator to get there, as if we were all on a military vessel. Nope, they’re just a few feet in front, on the same level, through a door that’s been much harder to get through for the last 17 years (as it should be). When did they stop calling that room the cockpit?

Not that we need that word invoked. Just start off with, “Folks, this is your captain…” and then go on to tell us that there’s turbulence ahead, or we’ll be landing early but can’t taxi to the gate yet because another plane is still using it, or to apologize for the lame jokes the flight attendant keeps repeating. We get it. Whenever we hear any announcement during a flight, we assume it’s from someone in authority who has the power to use the microphone.

Southwest Airlines has an open-seating policy, so you can sit wherever you like. On one of my recent flights, the woman who boarded last walked down the aisle while talking loudly into her phone to whoever she was traveling with, “What do you mean, you didn’t save me a seat??” Considering the volume and tone of her voice, I think I can guess why.

On the same flight, I spotted a man in the next row wearing a face mask — not like “Phantom Of The Opera” or “The Masked Singer,” but one of those surgical masks you see people wearing in smoggy cities like Beijing. Since we were not under those conditions, I wondered if he was being paranoid or considerate. If he was next to the woman I referred to above, I bet he’d wish he had earplugs, too.

In the terminal before the flight, I stopped into the airport newsstand to buy a 12-ounce bottle of orange juice. After using my iPhone to pay, the clerk asked if I wanted a receipt. “No, thanks,” I answered politely, then wondered silently why anyone would need that little piece of paper. Are you worried there might be something wrong with the juice and you’d have to return it? Do you need it for your expense report, despite your phone tracking your purchases? Or are you going to use it as proof that you just overpaid a ridiculous amount for your beverage?

Southwest has always had a pretty good selection of carb-heavy snacks for its passengers, from peanuts and pretzels to Fritos and Oreos, but a few years ago they began offering packages of Plane Cookies. That’s a cute use of a homophone in branding, but it’s also remarkably descriptive. Those cookies couldn’t be more plain. They set a new standard for flavorlessness. There’s more taste in each breath the guy in the surgical mask takes than in Plane Cookies.

Since I’m 6’4” tall, getting to sit in an exit row, with its few inches of extra legroom, makes flying a little more tolerable. That’s why it’s so annoying to come down the aisle and see shorter people sitting in those seats. I wish they’d post an amusement-park-like sign: “You must be this tall to sit here.”

That’s all for now from the blog deck. Please return your smartphones and laptops to the upright and locked position.