Flight Plan: Nosy Stewardess Outs Canadian Airplane Passenger

After reading about the gay couple who had their sex toy removed from their luggage and taped to the outside of a checked bag, Canadian writer Donald D’Haene was inspired to pen a column about his embarrassment at the hands of airline staffers when he and his hubby were just trying to get to Toronto:

One time Maurice and I used our Air Miles and took an 8:50 a.m., 43-minute Air Canada flight to Toronto. I was on the phone up until the last minute so we boarded separately—in fact, I was second last—but it didn’t matter as we had preassigned reserved seats together. When I finally walked down the aisle of the plane, Maurice was still trying to fit something in the overhead compartment. As I stopped at our seats, I heard the stewardess’s voice: “Sir, can you sit at the back of the plane.”

Notice the punctuation. Yes, said like a statement, not a question. I quickly glanced at my ticket.

“No, I have the right seat number. I’d rather sit here.”

“I’d rather you sit at the back,” she continued in an imperative tone.

“Why?” I asked in exasperation.

“It’s best.”

I was not a happy air miles flyer but I didn’t want to make a scene. “Okay, then!” I retorted in frustration. Picking up my carry on bag, I took two steps towards the back when I was interrupted by her voice again: “Is there some reason you want to sit up here?”

Oh, other than the fact that was my assigned seat? Even though the entire plane could hear this conversation, I kept my cool. ”It’s okay.”

“No, tell me why you want to sit up here!”

“You don’t want to know. Trust me.”

“No tell me!”

Remember the old E.F. Hutton commercials, “When E.F. Hutton talks, everyone listens”? There was dead silence on the entire plane until my always-silent Maurice finally spoke.

“He’s my partner!!!!”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you were together. Of course, you can sit with your partner.”

“That was weird,” Maurice said under his breath.

“I know. I don’t feel like coming out this early on a Tuesday morning!”

We hope Maurice and Donald at least got a free upgrade for their troubles.

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  • watching1

    There are some pretty amazing stories out there about passenger experiences, but this one doesn’t ring entirely true for me. Maybe it was just in the retelling, IDK. I’m also not sure why anyone would agree to a flight attendant (yeah, people, not stewardess) telling them to sit elsewhere for no reason, especially when they’re with their partner. It all sounds weird to me.

    But seriously, this is 2012. It’s flight attendant.

  • tdx3fan

    If you can not come out in an airplane full of COMPLETE STRANGERS then you probably should not be writing about it in a book. Seriously, if this is true then why would he simply not just tell her that he was sitting with his partner in the first place!?!

  • niles

    Baa baa, gay sheep.

  • Dakotahgeo

    It would be quite clear which airline scrapes the bottom of the barrel for their flight attendants/flight staff. Pity them and don’t give that airline the business. (Wish I knew which airline company that was.).

  • M

    What a ridiculous story–why didn’t he just tell the bitch he wanted to sit with his partner?

    Good Grief.

  • hf2hvit

    @niles: And you make sheep nervous

  • Eric Auerbach

    Weird weird story. Why didn’t he just tell the woman he wanted to sit with his partner, especially since she clearly didn’t have a good reason for wanting him to sit somewhere other than in his assigned seat?

  • the other Greg

    What’s wrong with “we’re together”?

    Seems like Canadian politeness run amok (for the passenger) and I’m guessing the flight attendant is probably a loud-mouthed native of the States.

  • MikeE

    It was an Air Canada flight.

    Which explains the poor service.

  • Elmwoodmac

    Actually up until over a month ago MikeE I would agreed with you until I took a United Airlines flight from San Fran to Vancouver. It was truly unbelievable.

  • gaym50ish

    It seems to me they outed themselves. All they had to say was, “We’re traveling together.” Then people could imagine they were business associates, brothers or whatever they wanted to assume.

    This is a non-story — certainly not a story of gay harassment. There are plenty of those kinds of stories without adding imagined slights like this one.

  • nineinchnail

    @the other Greg: Canadians polite? A fallicy.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @hf2hvit: That’s better than you making the sheep victims, Father Dolan!

  • Dakotahgeo

    @nineinchnail: I could match you 10 Americans to one impolite Canadian… take hf2hvit, for a good example of obnoxious. Canadians are the epitome of grace and personality and have the minority of Americans beat, hands down!
    A WASP for your information!

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Dakotahgeo: plus…fallacy*, thank you!

  • Niall

    The writer seemed far too polite imo. If you’re gonna tell me I have to change seats, surely you owe me a much better reason than “it’s for the best”?

  • ElectraDaddy

    I was on a Delta flight with my husband and our twins, who were infants at the time. A female flight attendant asked if the “moms” were taking a later flight. I laughed and said, “Oh, no. These are our kids.” Her response, “Yes. So, are the moms on a later flight?” Again I responded, “No. No. These are OUR children.” She was still totally clueless.

    One of her fellow flight attendants finally walked over and told her, “Sweetie. These two guys are a couple. There are no moms. These babies have two dads and you’re talking to them.” She looked totally confused and absolutely mystified. I wasn’t offended by the experience at all. I thought it was kinda funny.

  • goofyjoemoore

    Just goes to show that there are idiots in every country. Phew! I don’t feel so alone now living in America. :-)

  • C. Michael

    Why he would ever agree to be moved from his seat in the first place with an explanation like “It’s best” is a wonder to me. I’d have demanded a suitable explanation before I’d have ever moved at all. Dumbass flight attendants can’t just move folks around at whim.

  • Evji108

    Just sit in the back? – with pre-assigned seats? She would have had to show you a specific empty seat in order to move you somewhere else. In any case, if you let a flight attendant walk all over you like that, you deserve this kind of treatment. I would have ignored her and taken my assigned seat and if she wanted to move me there would have had to be some reasonable explanation, like the seat belt is broken or something. This is a stupid story and frankly, I don’t believe a word of it.

  • Flaneur

    I’d like to say this story is suspicious or overblown — except that I’ve experienced too much rude behavior from stews (oops, flight attendants) over the years (especially since 9/11) to completely dismiss the story.

    Flight attendants are like check-in clerks or TSA screeners or constantly on-break workers at the DMV — people who abuse their little bit of power at the expense of the rest of us.

    I fly internationally a lot, usually to Asia, and the service on many Asian airlines is superb, even in coach. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, to name just two, are a dream. Then, when I return to the United States and have to take a domestic continuing flight, I almost weep because I know I’ll have to deal with the hags and bullies of United Airlines, Delta, etc.

    There are good flight attendants, but too many are bitter, dismissive and unhelpful, and they deserve whatever passengers dish out. Take back the skies!

  • Donald

    I just discovered my column was posted here and the comments. I assure you it did indeed happen. (the full story is at The Good Man project link at top of post above) I read your comments to my partner and he said, “They don’t understand the way that I am.” Yeah, him, not me. I’m as out as a peacock strutting his feathers, but I have been with my partner 15 years (this is the first time we haven’t sat together) and I completely respect his reserved, Northern Ontario nature. My nature is also to be peace maker so I would never make a scene over the stewardess’s reaction – I pick my battles. It appears so does my partner and this one bugged HIM! That’s why I chose to walk to the back (again everything she said was as if she was speaking into a megaphone) and I was surprised Maurice decided to say something. Embarrassment has nothing to do with it. Sometimes we just don’t like unnecessary attention. I get enough as it is.

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