Celebrities and Politicians on a Plane

Last Thursday I flew from DCA-PHX after a week of business travel. Flights out of DCA towards the end of the week are common to see politicians on as they head home to their districts. My American flight yesterday was no exception as I saw Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (and actually tweeted about it):

My tongue in cheek tweet about how not even US Senators can score an upgrade on American!

During boarding I saw quite a few people stop and shake Senator Flake’s hand or say things to him. One gentleman in particular, who was visibly disabled, stopped for quite awhile to speak to the Senator. It was long enough that I thought I may have a viral moment on my hands as the flight attendants started hovering concerned.

Eventually the man moved on although apparently that wasn’t the end of it…CNN posted a video from Senator Flake debating the man on the new tax bill. Politics aside, I respect that Senator Flake got up in the middle of the flight to speak to his constituent at length.

It raises the question though…when is it appropriate to stop politicians, celebrities, or other public figures when they’re just trying to get somewhere like the rest of us?

Approaching celebrities and other public figures on a plane

When I lived in Southern California and flew out of LAX it was quite common to see celebrities in the Admiral’s Club. My two closest brushes with fame are when I was in the restroom with Julia Louis-Dreyfus but restrained myself from asking her to “spare a square”. And the one time I flew First on American’s 3 class A321 and sat across the row from Steve Carell and REALLY had to stop myself for asking for a selfie on our 6am departure. Although he did insist on getting my bag from the overhead bin, so I have that going for me!

Many passengers though, if they managed to spot the celebrities with hats pulled low trying to avoid detection, would act as passengers did yesterday with the less famous Senator from Arizona. Handshakes, selfies, high fives, etc.

So where is the line when air travel sucks for all of us? 

For me personally I take note out of interest to see how they treat flight attendants but don’t say anything. But, I think in some circumstances you are well within your rights to at least say a friendly hello. Obviously this is just my opinion but here are the guidelines of what does, and does not, make me cringe:

  1. If a public figure is in a different class than you they are automatically off limits. Flight attendants will stop you from going from coach to business or first
  2. If the person is a politician the argument that they work for you is pretty valid if you would like to politely say hello or speak to them briefly. I take this off the table if you’re not on a flight to/from the politician’s district or the politician is a national figure but not your representative. I.E. bothering Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi when you’re from Texas.
  3. Celebrities get bothered enough by paparazzi. Seeing their movie 5 years ago doesn’t mean you deserve to demand a selfie after a 6 hour red eye.
  4. If anyone is with their children leave them alone. Please. It makes me sad when I see videos of people harassing public figures while they’re with their small children.

Bottom Line

The celebrity craze seems to get more and more intense every year. I have seen folks cross the line before with celebrities and other public figures. The above is how I feel about the issue but I admit, despite reading People magazine a bit too much, I don’t fully get the celebrity craze.

Am I the only one? Do you approach celebrities on a plane? Or maybe just your favorite artist or movie star if you happened to see them?

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