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John Saul Headshot

The Ultimate Threat: Flying Commercial! What Am I Missing Here?

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Some things tend to drive me crazy.

In fact, a lot of things tend to drive me crazy.

Sometimes it's a little thing, like hearing a woman threaten her child with what she seemed to think was the ultimate punishment: "If you don't stop that screaming right this minute, you're going to have to fly home commercial!"

Obviously, I must be crazy because my first instinct was to laugh out loud. But then the question that's always popping into my mind raised its ugly head once again:

What am I missing here?

Because I must be missing something; I mean, who makes a threat like that? Not, obviously, your average middle-class American mother. She probably wouldn't even understand the threat, let alone ever find herself in the position of applying it to her child. Of course, to be fair, there's always the chance the woman I overheard was actually a nanny or an assistant nanny, or even a vacation sub-nanny, but if that were true I suspect the child would have known that staff at any of the nanny levels don't make family transportation decisions; perhaps the family travel planner, but surely not the nanny! Thus, I'm assuming it was the mother.

So what could that mother have been thinking? What kind of values was she instilling in her son? Certainly she wasn't making sure that he understood that his actions would or even could have immediate consequences. Nor did she seem to have any interest in teaching him that his screaming was bothering not only her, but also everybody around them. The idea of removing him from the area to explain to him that if he didn't quiet down he would be taken back to their suite without dinner certainly didn't occur to her, since that would have involved actually doing something constructive herself.

And what of her son? Did he even know what "flying commercial" was? Beyond that, did he, at the age of about six, truly believe that the act of "flying commercial" some time in the vague future would be so overwhelmingly demeaning as to merit an immediate and radical behavioral adjustment?

But back to the mother. In order to make the threat of "commercial flight" useful, she had to be prepared to follow through on it, and once again there was that thought: What am I missing here?

Had she lost so much contact with the world outside her bubble of luxury that she no longer understood the realities of commercial flight these days? Given the time of year the threat was made, her chances of getting a seat -- any seat -- on a regularly scheduled flight were far less than none. Beyond that, who was going to escort the little tyke on his Journey of Utter Humiliation? I was willing to bet right there that it wasn't going to be Mommy. On the other hand, I'm not sure she was any more worried about providing an escort than she was about obtaining the ticket in the first place; the assumption was apparent: she could get anything she wanted at the exact moment she wanted it.

Still, the logistics would be staggering:

Does the kid join the family in the limo to the airport, being dropped off at ticketing to drag his little Louis Vuitton Zephyr through security to begin hunting for his gate, while the rest of the family cruises on to General Aviation where the Gulfstream 5 awaits, crew already putting lunch on board and mixing the first round of Cosmos?

Or should he get the full on "flying commercial" experience? You know -- we all know, for God's sake! Would she make him get to the airport by shuttle, figure out how to get his boarding pass, then scuffle around to find some food to eat on the plane? And what happens when he arrives? Who is going to meet the flight? Surely it won't be her; she hasn't seen the inside of an airport in years, and isn't about to start now. And I was also willing to bet that her child knew nothing about public transportation. No, better to load Uber into Trey's iPhone and let him call a limo as soon as he's reclaimed his Zephyr.

It was about that point that I gave up trying to figure out what I was missing here because the kid apparently had heard the words before and knew no one was missing anything at all. His mother's threat was just as empty and ridiculous as it sounded, and his reaction was just what his mother deserved. He kept on screaming and the rest of us kept on missing the quiet dinner we'd been hoping for.

Apparently, once again, I hadn't missed anything here...