I’m freshly back from my first ride on an A380 and had a great time – trip report is forthcoming. My quick weekend adventure began with a flight on United’s premium service from Los Angeles to JFK and as I’ve been doing since taking big international trips, I film my journey from start to end and publish a video trip report on my YouTube page.
I’ve been on oodles of United Airlines “p.s.” flights during the past several years and have taken many pics before of the seat, cabin, service items, etc. This was the first time, though, that I actually filmed while boarding the cabin and it, again, was to document my journey as there are a huge amount of aerophiles out there who enjoy watching such videos. The best of which, in my opinion, are from sfflyer123, also a frequent United flyer.
I was particularly careful not to capture crew as I know filming them is prohibited and I also do my best inside the cabin to ensure the faces of fellow passengers aren’t captured – I really wouldn’t want my own appearing in some random person’s video blog.
I had exit row seat 9A on my LAX-JFK flight and was among the first to board. I filmed my approach to the seat and panned around a bit revealing the ridiculous amount of legroom the area provides. Since there was no one around in view, I got some great video, but knew there were people behind me noticing my actions.
Throughout the flight I took more video and pics of the menu and food, out the window, the view forward to the next seat, etc. While I do always feel a bit weird about it and I know the guy next to me at the minimum noticed, I think it’s pretty obvious I’m just a geek and enjoy capturing my journey.
The flight was fantastic and I had a great and friendly crew serving business class, even chatting briefly with one of the flight attendants as I waited for the lavatory at the front of the cabin.
Although I’m not someone who likes to strike up a conversation with my seatmate, we did share a couple of brief sentences that were friendly during the flight when it seemed appropriate without being antisocial.
Anyway, upon landing and parking at the gate, I grabbed my bags from the overhead and exchanged pleasant goodbyes with the crew and headed out the jetway. I generally walk with “purpose” and I was particularly keen to get to Terminal 4 to maximize my time in the lounges there, so made a beeline for the nearby escalator to the departures level to catch the AirTrain.
About halfway there, I noticed a gentleman to my left catching up and starting to say something directly at me. Not hearing him, I keep walking but turned to him and said, “Pardon?” He says something to the effect of “I need to ask you a few questions. I’m a Federal Air Marshal.”
He continues, “A passenger noticed you were filming in the exit row and I need to speak to you about that. Can we step to the side?” By this point another man approaches and explains they’re both Federal Air Marshals and he presents his ID. I stopped, obviously.
After looking at the ID, I figured it was legit and they both very politely explained again that someone noticed me filming in the exit row and they needed to know why. I immediately explained that I’m a travel blogger and that I review airline service for my own website and CNBC.com and provided them with my ID and business card upon request.
They were both incredibly friendly and non-aggressive and one asked to see a couple of the videos I took. I replayed some of them and they took a note of my ID and asked where I was headed. They briefly conferred with each other in front of me acknowledging that I’m not a threat and then thanked me for my time and were on their way.
I’m not sure where the FAMs were seated, but it must have been behind me since I wasn’t approached until halfway through the terminal. They didn’t ask me to delete my videos, for which I was thankful, so my shots will happily appear in my upcoming video trip report.
It was an interesting experience, but it did get me to pause and remember that some flyers aren’t enthusiasts and probably do get freaked out if they see something unusual like filming in the cabin. The “If you see something, say something…” mantra nowadays worked on my flight, it seems.
Any other “avgeeks” out there have a similar experience?