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.
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"?