Recently my wife and I flew to LA from Tampa. We had not been on a plane since 2002 and I did not know what we were in for. I found out that you need an email ticket ahead of time to speed up check in. So I went thru a learning lesson on line trying to do this. We arrived at the airport about 2 hours ahead of our flight time. Going to the Delta counter to check my bags they told me I was in the wrong line and had to go to another counter to use the bar code on our tickets. There was a scanner there but would not accept our tickets. Finally a Delta employee came over ask me what the problem is. I told her the machine is not working and she replied it does not work because you are not scanning in the ticket correctly. I ask her to show me and she begrudgingly came over to show me, the dummy, how to do it.
Checking in our bags they ask for 2 photo ID’s and our boarding pass. As it turned out our bags were overweight so there was a $49.00 extra charge. Thanks to my wife over packing as usual, we had to run our credit card thru and pay more money. Finally after inspecting our bags, threw some x-ray machine we went to the gate. In Tampa there are trams that take you to the gate. You need to show your ticket and boarding pass with ID to get on the tram. Getting off the tram you need to go thru security again. Yes, empty your pockets, take off our coat, belt, and shoes. Put all items in a bin that runs thru the x-ray machine while you go thru the metal detector. Recently they have the people x-ray machines which we did run into this trip. The new frisking policy was not in effect this trip either. However, they did open my brief case and my wife’s purse. They took my little scissors and my wife’s nail file because they were very dangerous weapons. This is why I now hate to fly.
Finally we board the plane and of course our row or section is called last. We find our seats in coach class and there are 3 rows on each side of the plane. My wife has the aisle seat C and I have seat B in the middle. We are the last ones to sit down and I was happy no one was in the window seat A as it gives us some more room. To my dismay from the back of the plane comes a man of Middle Eastern appearance who shoves his boarding pass in my face showing he has seat A. No words were exchanged. So my wife and I get up for him to get in but he then proceeds to sit in my wife’s isle seat. I told him no he has the window seat. But he speaks out in some foreign language which I could not follow. I told him no you have seat A and pointed out which was seat A, seat B, and seat C. The flight attendant came over, she told us to sit down, and I explained he has seat A but took seat C. The flight attendant pointed to seat A and then on his boarding pass, and then he moved. You do not mess with flight attendants as they are all powerful on the plane.
In noticed in his hand he carried a plastic bag that he kept squeezing making a loud crumpling sound that plastic does. He had on sandals with no socks but had normal looking clothes. He had little beady eyes looking thru black rimmed glasses and a big Sadam Hussein type mustache. I just wondered where did this guy come from in the back of the plane? Was he in the wash room right before take off? What was he doing with that plastic bag in his hand? I heard that the wash room is where insiders who work for the airlines services persons could hide guns and explosives for the real terrorist to pick up. So I was uneasy about this strange guy who could not speak English or read it. How can he get around without knowing English? I looked around for others on the plane that may have similar appearances but saw no one. I also remembered that many of the 9/11 terrorists trained to fly airplanes in Florida. So I was now very uneasy about the situation.
The plane gets ready to take off and everyone is required to fasten their seat belts. This guy did not do his and the flight attendant told him to do so but he did not understand. I showed him what to do and he nodded his head he understood. He carefully placed his plastic bag in the seat pocket, did his belt and then took out the bag again. He kept squeezing it all the time. The noise was driving me nuts. I wanted to grab that bag from him and look inside it.
I was watching him out of the corner of my eye as the plane took off. I dozed off for a little and then was awakened by the sound of the plastic bag. The plane was quite except for this sound. It was making me crazy. Then I noticed he was looking around to see if anyone was watching and he peeked in the bag. I pretended to be asleep. He kept squeezing the bag and peaking inside every few minutes it seemed.
By now I was thinking if this guy has some type of weapon or explosive in the bag what will I do. I made a plan in my head to judo chop him in the throat and then grab his arms getting on top of him to hold him down while screaming terrorist. Then take his plastic bag and throw it to another seat. By that time I would hope some other passengers would come to my aid. Crazy thinking I know but at the time it seemed the right thing to do. I thought was I over reacting? I thought no , better to be safe than dead.
The flight attendant came down the aisle handing out drinks and I chose water. She asks him what he wanted and he pointed to my water. The attendant handed him a bottle of water. Now I thought what if he pours the water into the bag to set off a device. I watched him very closely now but I never let on to my wife what was going on. She was asleep anyway and I did not want to alarm her.
Finally the strange guy starts to open his bag but before he does he looks around to see if anyone is watching him. He sees I am and he gives a little smile or smirk to me. I am ready to spring into action at any second. I am working up my nerve to attack him on the spot to stop him from blowing up the plane by killing him if necessary. He opens the water bottle and now very slowly the plastic bag. The tension is straining me and adrenaline is flowing thru my body. He reaches in the bag pulls out a news paper wrapped around something. I could smell something bad coming out of the bag. What was that smell? Watching him unwrap the news paper the odor became worse. My fingers tighten to make my strike. When the paper was fully unrolled out popped a dead fish, a mackerel I guess, to my relief. He was happily eating it with his fingers and using only his right hand. I watched him eat that stinking fish thinking how this guy had put me thru the terror mill. By now the dead fish odor has spread around the whole plane. The attendant came over to see what was that stink and she looked right at me and him. I advised her it is only his dead fish.