Culture

Even at 37,000 Feet, it is Happy Hour Somewhere: Drink up Before Your Next Meeting

No matter what time of day you are traveling it is a cocktail hour somewhere. Flying is the great equalizer-or should be when it comes to cocktail drinking etiquette. Meaning, people shouldn’t pass judgment on the beverage of choice of their fellow passengers when the flight attendant passes by with the beverage cart.  It should be a “safe space” to order a seabreeze or a bourbon on the rocks.  Of course, all within reason. It should be a safe space to enjoy two to three cocktails at any time of the day while flying.

I am currently on a 6am flight down to Washington, DC from New York in a small plane filled with well-suited powerbrokers and a crying baby. Who flies a baby to DC at 6am? Either way, the conditions are ripe for someone to order a cocktail.  It is 7pm in Tokyo and surely many are hitting the bars right about now. If it is happening in Japan, it is cool everywhere.  Surprisingly, the mother traveling with her baby didn’t order a drink this morning. Talk about someone who probably is in desperate need of one. I seriously considered ordering a drink this morning for as soon as we land I have an all-day meeting with a set of somewhat tedious people who pretend to be one’s well-meaning colleague and who then go ahead and spread all sorts of rumors meant to take one out at the knees.  I mentioned I was going to DC, right?  Within 45 minutes of the meeting being underway, there are bound to be 5 Non sequiturs, 4 self-serving comments, 3 veiled put downs, 2 please for more money and 1 dirty look. And, those are all from just one meeting participant. There are about ten others in the room So, would you blame me for having a cocktail on my 6am EST (but 7pm Tokyo time) flight?

Two weeks ago, while flying to Puerto Rico in first class, upon sitting down I was greeted by the flight attendant with a mimosa in hand. Now, that was cool. There was really no judgment there whatsoever. My seat neighbor didn’t drink a mimosa however and that scared me.  I didn’t really want to be next to a teetotaler on a three hour fight. That has happened to me before, whereby I had to sit through a three hour flight listening to this woman’s diatribe on early morning drinks and how her father was an alcoholic. Isn’t that why one flies first class anyway? Alas, my seatmate decided to have four Heinekens instead. Ok. He’s a drinker. All is cool.  He was in the army heading to Puerto Rico to get some R & R. I was not going to judge his Heineken consumption; can’t be easy being in the army these days. He was totally chill on the flight and knew when to leave me be.  Yah, for Heineken. Everyone just seemed so relaxed with a mimosa in hand. None of that flight rage we have been seeing a lot as of late.  Speaking of which, I saw a father yelling at a flight attendant on another flight because he had purchased one of those preferred seats for $37 and his 16 year old son was not in said seat. He was in another “preferred seat”. Oh vey. Did that lead to a non-stop ten-minute rant. Someone get that man a cocktail stat!  Cocktails have their place in the travel world. That is for sure.

Now, please do note, if you are sitting in the exit row don’t get plastered. One or two drinks max should suffice. Do remember: sitting in the exit row has real responsibilities –it is just not about getting the extra legroom. So, if you are drunk in the exit row, you are scaring me. Please don’t scare me.

Also, if you are grieving, be mindful of the effects of alcohol.  The effects of alcohol are intensified at higher altitudes, and even factoring in the pressurization of the cabin, one can feel more intoxicated more quickly in an airplane than on the ground. This is because reduced pressure at altitude reduces the ability of the blood to absorb oxygen.  So, if alcohol effects are normally intensified imagine when you are grieving.  Coming back from Greece to New York, I got to land in Ireland due to a grieving widower who was a tad bit intoxicated. He grieved loudly and belligerently and as a result two New York burly cops descended on him in a New York minute. The captain kept paging for a medical doctor, but truly the guy needed a grief counselor. So, we descended rapidly, cops boarded and escorted him off the plane and back up we went. The rapid descent was a bit nauseating process for us all.  So, if you are grieving, have a drink, relax, cry, and we will weep with you. Just be mindful of how many cocktails you imbibe.

Drinking while flying can get you through uncomfortable seating, overly loud hipsters and turbulence-which seems to be more and more frequent these days. A cocktail also prepares you to deal with the crazy, ego-maniacs you have to meet with after you land.  Think of your airplane cocktail as a liquid appetizer to be followed up by happy hour once the meeting crazies are done pontificating.

Bottoms up!

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