OK, here's something I'm hearing about with increasing frequency... intoxicated passengers being put off airplanes. The latest to endure this strange indignity, Baywatch star and quasi-celeb David Hasselhoff. Hasselhoff (via his publicist) insists he was ill, not drunk. But as long as he wasn't planning to FLY the goddamn plane, I'm not really sure why everyone's so upset.
Afterall, airplanes are, like any form of mass transportation, chronically late. That's why airports provide the armies of delayed and hopelessly bored passengers with an array of bars and lounges, where those awaiting their delayed flights can spend the hours brooding over a cognac. So, after being served at the airport bar, these same passengers are being told by the airlines that they are too intoxicated to fly. How sober do you have to be to sit in a chair with a wilted pillow behind your head while watching the Bad News Bears on a headset? After all the weapons screening one endures in airports these days, what threat is a drunk Hasselhoff? Is he going to stab someone with a swizzle stick? Or perhaps pelt the crew with soda crackers? Most likely he'd just grab the Flight Attendant's ass then drift off to sleep.
And if the airlines are truly so concerned about intoxicated passengers, why do they wheel that rickety little bar cart up and down the aisle hawking bourbon and vodka? Seems like a double standard. If you're drunk when you board the plane, you'll be put off, but if you're still relatively sober (after your 4-hour wait in the terminal), you'll be rewarded with a couple of belts at 30,000 feet.
Frankly, so long as it's not the crew who's loaded, I couldn't care less if half the passengers are in the bag. Of course, crews occasionally do fly drunk. I once even saw uniformed crew walk straight from a bar to the cockpit, and nobody raised an eyebrow. That's where I'd draw the line. I'd like the folks at the stick to be sober (and prefereably well rested). But I'd let the passengers have as much booze as they could handle without puking.
Ever ride one of the casino buses to Atlantic City? On the return trip, after a long sweaty night of gambling, nearly everyone boards drunk. And most have lost all their money. But do they attempt to highjack the bus? Do they start fistfights in the aisles? No. Usually within 20 minutes out of the station, they are snoring into their sleeves. Those are some of the quietest times I've ever experienced--alone with only the thrum of the bus engine and the whoosh of tires on pavement as my companions.
Maybe the airlines could learn a thing or two.