Apparently books and water bottles are dangerous now, too.

Beware of these items!

If you fly often, you know that all flights are different. Some are on time, some are late. Some are full, some are empty. Some have a happy flight crew, some have a pissed off flight crew. You get the idea. Well, on a recent flight I had such a bizarre experience that I have to tell you all about it, and see if it’s more common than I think.

It started out typically enough. I waited in line, boarded the plane, stowed my bag, sat down, got settled with my water bottle and Kindle. The two people sitting next to me were kind of strange, but not enough to really pay attention to. No, the weird people on the plane were the flight crew. Before the safety talk, the flight attendant announced that if you had headphones on you had to remove them for takeoff—even if your device was turned off. She even went up and down the aisles and asked the strange people next to me to remove their headphones. During the talk, the flight attendant gave the typical warnings about fastening your seatbelt, cabin pressure, etc. Then she stated explicitly that during takeoff and landing, nothing was to be placed in the seatback pocket—not a laptop (which I’ve heard before), water bottle, or book (which was new)—nothing. I rolled my eyes a bit, but went ahead and moved my water bottle.

As the flight went on, I forgot about the seatback pocket warning and stuck my water bottle and Kindle in there. As we went into our final approach, the flight attendant walked by and asked me to remove them. The reason? It would make it harder to get out of your row in an emergency.

I know in the grand scheme of things this is not a big deal. But sort of like the flight attendant back in December who made me put away my knitting during takeoff, I just think it’s weird and unnecessary. If knitting needles or books in the seatback pocket are truly a danger, that’s totally fine and I will act accordingly. But does each individual flight attendant get to decide what they think is dangerous, and then enforce that on their passengers? What if a super paranoid flight attendant decides that writing utensils are dangerous (hey, I saw The Bourne Identity—you can do a lot of damage with a pen!) and bans people from writing?

Readers, what do you think? Have you heard a strange safety requirement while flying? Do you think flight attendants should be able to decide what’s dangerous, or should there be some sort of standard?


  1. Think the airlines add on to, or interpret, the regs in their own way. I’ve heard the same safety requirements by Republic flight attendants. When all else is equal I avoid their flights…

  2. On recent trip to Toronto from Atlanta, the flight attendants did the same. Everything completely turned off and no headphones during takeoff & landing, nothing in the seatback pockets. I wonder if we were on the same flight?

  3. Another over the top reaction by a US FA. What is especially nauseating is the inconsistency! If you have ever been on a flight elsewhere in the world outside of the USA, you must surely have barely made it out alive becasue of the lackadaisical attitude displayed by the crews of outher airlines! No one is as rigid as US FAs. Funny though how everyone else seems to do just fine…

  4. On a recent USAIR flight PHX to MSP I was told I could have nothing on my lap for take off. The FA was referring to my lunch bag. I had to put it under the seat. I was in row 19, not a bulkhead. Never heard this before..

  5. I recently heard the headphone thing on a British Airways flight from Norway to the UK, so it is not just the US.

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