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Brainfarts on a dramatic but totally professional and non-chaotic flight.

29Sep14, 23xxhrs.

Live monologuing to myself on the Notes App on my iPhone 5 with 20% of battery life. On a 5.5hr flight.

Some dude got really drunk and abrasive on the flight. The stewardesses confiscated multiple cans of beer and cups of wine from him. It took four of them standing in front of him, with strict firm persuasive tones for him to go back to his seat. He was roaming around the plane in his half drunkard state and refusing to stay still. It seemed the stewardesses asked one of the middle-aged blokes seated behind him to help calm him down (crucial, because he was strong built and could help hold the drunk down. The other men surrounding the drunk were young boys, teenage punks, and silver haired men).

I was watching from the second last row.

The stewardesses asked the three people seated in the last row behind me if they could swap seats and move to the front. They were planning to restraint the drunk “for his own safety” but wanted to contain him at the back of the plane, near the crew area so they could watch him.

One of the blokes whom they had earlier enlisted for help came to the back and asked if the stewardesses knew what they were doing, and if moving him was the best idea. One of them replied that they were all trained to deal with situations like this, but that they “still needed men” to help as they “are women” and unable to contain him on their own. While chatting, another middle-aged bloke across the aisle from where bloke 1 was sitting came to the back.

Bloke 1 and 2 brainstormed and suggested sitting on each side of the drunk dude to restrain him. They suggested a third one could stay near their aisle to help “in case he tried to get up again, so we can sit him back down”. Mid-conversation, bloke 1 eyeballed the similarly built male passenger on my left. It was just the two of us in a row of three. Some kind of magic masculine averbal communication then transpired before my eyes.

Bloke 3 abruptly got up from his nap (idk how maybe he is Spider-Man and has secret superhero danger-radar things) just in time to catch bloke 1’s eyeballing. I know bloke 1 was about to say something because he was beginning to part his lips to articulate a word (I was kinda creepily watching his face, intrigued by this magical communication by eye contact? Scent? Infrared? Bluetooth? Idk but I want that bro radar too. The only person who can read a book-length response from something as subtle as my single eyelid quiver is my sister. We, too, are some kind of magic).

Any way, somehow, bloke 3 had arisen and broken out of his semi-conscious blur within two split seconds. Before bloke 1 could say any thing, blurted “need a hand?” Bloke 1: “Yeah, mate.” Bloke 3 asked if they had “the stuff”. Bloke 1 somehow understood that to mean restraining cuffs and other related paraphernalia Yup, the stewardesses were prepping the stuff. Off they went.

(Really? Your first thoughts when someone “needs a hand” is restraining cuffs? Are you secretly experienced in this area, or often enlisted for this sort of assistance, or secretly not sleeping and being totally aware of every thing despite snoring – yes I hear you, dude – or are the two of you kickass in-flight marshal buddies of sorts?)

A whole lot of standing and shuffling and shuttling – all hushed and poised and not a wee bit chaotic at all – took place in row one, right behind the cockpit. They were going to restraint him there instead – sounds wise since his seat was in front half of the plane. Roughly 5.5 minutes later, four similarly built men (3 Anglo-Saxon, 1 East Asian) returned from their heroic ‘sojourn to row one’. The stewardesses also dispersed from the front of the plane in turns.

Many curious passengers bopped their heads up and down to watch (it was fun to watch the haphazard pseudo-Kallang wave from row 29), but no one took the trouble to ask around or leave their seats to snoop. (It was midnight and I guess we were mostly sleepy, drunk, or depressed about life in general).

The end.

I’m still really really intrigued by the magical averbal eyeballing form of communication. The obvious guess would be that bloke 1 and 3 were not-so-secretly flight marshals meant to oversee the safety of the journey etc. If so, man were they smoooooth. But I still cannot account for bloke 3’s magical coincidentally timed rouse from his slumber.

I’m preeeeety sure he was sleeping. I mean, the kid behind us was yanking on the foldable table and blabbering and jumping and doing basic kid things and bloke 3 was just sleeping like a rock through it all. If my guess is right, is he then technically sleeping on the jobbb. Or is this part of his work persona. I have so many questions. I want to research this and write about it. But I should finish my thesis and graduate first because logic.

Right now, the stewardesses are in the crew area behind us debriefing each other and exchanging notes. One of them says “one alpha was asking why we had to restrain him”. I didn’t know that was how they refer to seat numbers. That’s pretty cool. Now chatting about “refilling their restrain kits”. One of them exasperated exclaims to the others: “We only have one left!” (How many do they usually use on a flight you guys? I mean, it’s a red-eye flight and on an Australia route but still??? So. Many. Questions.)

Okay, the pilot just made an in-flight announcement.

“A passenger was unruly due to intoxication, and physically inappropriate behavior towards my cabin crew. In the interest of safety we had to physically restraint him. I have a zero tolerance policy for such acts, and trust that…” (Pilot was too slick and quick, I could no longer transcribe ad verbatim. Sigh, so rusty after a year off fieldwork. Failing anthropologist)

The tldr version of it was that drunkard was drunk and inappropriate and had to be restrained. All the apologies to all of you and hope the disturbance was minimal etc. Special thanks to the gentlemen who were assisting (uh bloke 3 is fast asleep again. I kinda want to thank him personally or ask him about his suspiciously bad-ass undercover occupation or about his magical averbal bro eyeballing, but he has his hoodie over half his face and being all cool and asleep)

Do in-flight marshals get to claim frequent flyer miles. How do they learn to pretend not to know each other. How do they fit in with the rest of us regular uncool-occupation passengers? How is the crew notified of their identify? How does the crew play it cool and not expose them? Are there female in-flight marshals? What do in-flight marshals do on land between flights? How are they strategically seated? Do they all look so cool being asleep with half their face covered? This plane lands in three hours and twenty minutes. I kinda really really need WiFi ASAP to Google all of this.

People with more general knowledge and common sense than I probably already know about these things. But I want to know and I want to know nowww.

2 replies »

  1. As usual, I spent my life falling into internet blackholes and only found half-useless KimK fiascos, totally legit ehow seven-step know-hows, and a series of failed parody accounts. Would any one allow us to do ethnography on flight marshals? WANT.

  2. It sounds like in the movies! Did you end up googling ‘flight marshalls’ and did you find anything out?

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