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No Limes, And A Sense Of Perspective In The Air

Ed Ronco
Don't be this guy. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says a sense of perspective is important when flying.

A shortage of limes is causing trouble for some airlines, according to a report by the Associated Press. Many carriers announced they would temporarily stop using limes during drink service aboard their aircraft. That includes Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, which estimates it goes through 900 limes a day. 

Some bloggers reacted to the news as though they'd just eaten a lemon instead.

"Diet Coke without lime is like Bert without Ernie," wrote Ben Schlappig, on the BoardingArea blog.

The shortage is a result of a disease infecting lime trees, a drought and unrest among drug cartels near Mexican lime growers. Those are pretty serious problems, and so we decided the lime-tastrophe is a good opportunity to check on our sense of perspective, and reflect on how we behave aboard aircraft.

"I've picked up people at airports for about 20 years, in Costa Rica and Paris, and Rome," KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley said. "Half the time, what they want to do is talk about what a rough experience it was. I'm just thinking, 'I'm so happy I was not on the Mayflower with you.'"

To get comfortable aboard a flight, Brumley recommends a lumbar support pillow, neck rest, eye shades and earplugs.

"No one bothers me," he said. "They don't want to talk to me. I just look a bit odd."

Brumley recalls a story his mother used to tell about flying to Hawaii.

"About two hours out of Honolulu, (the flight attendants) would change into flower dresses, wearing leis, and then all of a sudden they'd be serving mai tais to everybody. Everybody was dressed," he said. 

Today's in-flight experience is different, of course. We're more comfortable, more casual, and in some cases, worse behaved. Flight attendants put up with a lot these days, and it's well documented.

Brumley says they're tired, too. They're on the same long flight as you, and they might have another that day. Being rude to a flight attendant isn't just bad manners, it's wasting an opportunity to be a more efficient traveler.

"Flight attendants who travel a lot to the destination you're traveling to are a wealth of information," he said. "If you have a bit of time, get to know the flight attendants. They're great people."

The bottom line, says Brumley: How much you enjoy a flight depends more on your attitude than on the fruit in your drink.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Matthew Brumley is the founder of Earthbound Expeditions, which organizes group travel to destinations around the world for various clients, including KPLU. "Going Places" is our new travel segment exploring all aspects of getting from Point A to Point B. Tell us about your flight experiences — especially your advice for other airborne travelers — in the comments below.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.