This is not a column about "threats," not in the terrorist sense, anyway.
Think of it as a list of taboo phrases and sentences that should not be uttered as a matter of courtesy, or as a matter of, oh, personal safety. Some of these "no-no's" could prompt fellow passengers to gang up on you and pull out a roll of duct tape.
I present this list strictly as a public service. Plus, at the very end, I'll give my take on what should be heard on an airplane. Here we go:
1. "Say, have you taken care of all your insurance needs?"
Personally, I think insurance salesmen (and saleswomen) are nice people, but please resist the temptation to proselytize to a captive audience. And never ask, "Who will take care of your family if something happens to you?" A nervous flier might take that the wrong way. Want to end the conversation? Just say, "I work for the IRS."
2. "Uh–oh, have you seen my doggie?"
Please don't say this. It means you decided to let Sparky out of the carrier, and that's not allowed. Keep him caged, or risk having your pet bounce off the ceiling during turbulence, or get smacked by an errant drink cart. Or maybe an irate passenger will quietly stuff the poor pup in an overhead bin.
3. "If you put me in first class, I'm sure the urge to hurl will pass."
You didn't pay for first class, so you're not going to get first class, no matter how many empty seats there are and no matter how many threats you make. Your only chance is if you're an elite member of a miles club. If not, forget it. So quit whining. You're annoying everyone else suffering in steerage.
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4. "Just ignore it. I hear some pilots never turn off that 'buckle-up' sign."
Some pilots do indeed keep the seat belt sign lit -- even when there's no need to -- but that's not typical. Besides, turbulence can come out of nowhere, with no warning. If you're not buckled up, that crazy shaking can hurt you, badly. Why take a chance? Keep your belt fastened.
5. "I'll hang up when I'm good and ready, lady. Besides, we're still at the gate."
Will the plane explode if you keep talking on your cell phone? Doesn't matter. If a flight attendant tells you to turn it off, do so. Or continue your conversation with the cops. And, no, the plane will probably not explode but your head might, once the crew starts yelling at you.
6. "Oh, my goodness, was that your foot?"
The above comment is invariably made by your window seatmate, clutching a 2-liter bottle of water, during all of their five trips to the restroom. We are talking about a 60-minute flight. For some reason, Lavatory Lizard will not wait for you or the middle seatmate to move out of the way -- just climbs on over and, inevitably, lands on your brand-new loafers. Next time, remind them that, for the price of that economy-sized bottle of water, they could have reserved an aisle seat.
7. "Why does that lady have no clothes on?"
Maybe we should categorize this one as a phrase you should never hear -- especially from a child. It means you forgot to remove those NSFW ("not safe for work") pictures from your laptop. Please don't subject that little kid sitting next to you or me, for that matter, to your "Hangover" bachelor party photos. In fact, why are you even taking pictures of stuff that should "stay in Vegas"?
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8. "Listen, captain, I think your attitude stinks!"
Maybe pilots are no longer paid a royal wage, but you better believe every one of them is still king (or queen) of the cockpit, so pick a fight with them at your peril. Just ask the flight attendant who dared argue with such a monarch on a flight from Sao Paulo to Chicago earlier this month. The pilot diverted the flight to Miami and then, allegedly, kicked the offending crew member off the plane.
9. "Wait a minute, your ticket cost $300 less than mine?"
Mom always said, don't talk about religion and money -- so don't ask your seatmate what his ticket cost -- or risk spending the rest of the flight wishing for the oxygen mask to deploy. On the other hand, if it galvanizes you into signing up for real-time, e-mail alerts or doing something really cool like finding deals via Twitter -- well, that's a good thing.
10. "Do you know who I am?"
This is the one, sure-fire way to turn everyone against you but, unfortunately, the people who use this phrase tend to have the sensitivity of a Simon Cowell. Still, try a snappy comeback: One of my employees swears she heard a passenger use this immortal phrase on a flight attendant, who smiled sweetly and said, "You're right, I don't know who you are. But let's take a look at your ticket, I'm sure we'll find the answer there!"
OK, now let's turn the tables: What should you say on a plane? How about nothing. Blessed silence is vastly underrated!
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.