Things I Learned Yesterday After Being Stuck in an Airport for 10 Hours Because of a Flight Delay

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I’m writing this from a hotel room in Washington, D.C. I’m here for a Q&A and book signing with Franchesca Ramsey Wednesday evening, and I’ll also be on Al-Jazeera’s The Stream Wednesday afternoon. Because my day is so busy, I wanted to get here early just so I’d be settled and ready, and my flight from Pittsburgh was set to arrive in D.C. 4:15 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.


But apparently God had other plans and thought it wise (or perhaps just humorous) to hit the D.C. area with a series of severe thunderstorms that made it unsafe for planes to fly. At the Pittsburgh airport, this meant that we got on and back off the plane four separate times before we were finally allowed to take off, and we didn’t get to D.C. until 1 a.m.

Tuesday was ... a lot of things. But mostly it was educational. Here’s (some of) what I learned.

1. Airplane jargon might be the worst jargon.

How the hell is saying, “The passenger in 17 Charlie isn’t back in his seat yet” easier than just saying, “The passenger in 17c isn’t back in his seat yet”? What type of shorthand adds extra syllables???

Also, if I heard “deplane” one more time, I was going to hurl a tray of Biscoff cookies through de plane’s window.

2. White men have some serious entitlement issues, man.

Obviously, this was not a convenient situation for anyone. Flying already induces anxiety for people, and being stuck in an airport in Pittsburgh for nine hours longer than you intended is no one’s idea of fun, unless you just really, really, really love TGI Friday’s.


Also, the delays were out of American Airlines’ control, and most people on our flight just, well, dealt with it. Three people, however, sought to make their annoyance known to each and every airport worker, flight attendant, passenger, gate agent and pilot they encountered. One even screamed (three times!), “They’re all fucking liars!” And each of these visibly aggravated people was a white man.

Granted, the rest of the men who happened to be white and happened to be on our flight were fine. #NotAllWhiteMenAreAssholesAtTheAirport. But I don’t think it was a coincidence that the only ones to blame American Airlines for the motherfucking weather also happened to be the people in America least likely to hear, “No, you can’t do this thing you want to do right now.” It’s almost like “temporary inconveniences that have nothing to do with any sort of human error” weren’t part of the whiteness or maleness packages they paid for.


3. I don’t know how much money the people who work at airports and on airplanes make, but I do know they’re underpaid.

Flight attendants especially should probably be making triple whatever it is they make. Not only do you have to deal with passengers and luggage and turbulence and take orders from the pilots, but you have to be pleasant. Even if tempted to say, “Motherfucker, does that Shaq-sized bag look like it’s gonna fit in an overhead?” you can’t. 


4. As far as airport bathrooms go, the Pittsburgh airport might have the best.

The worst? Charlotte. If you land in Charlotte, N.C., you’re better off shitting on the plane than in the terminal. Also, THE URINALS THERE HAVE NO PARTITIONS!


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5. Dunkin’ Donuts has really good breakfast sandwiches.

The Brown Sugar Chipotle Bacon Breakfast Sandwich is especially tasty.

I ate seven of them yesterday.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



Charlie beats out C because too many of our stupid letters rhyme. B, C, D, E and G are all valid seats on a plane.