My Problem With Flying: An Open Letter to Matt Meltzer

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The interwebs are all abuzz with the latest rendition of how awful flying happens to be with “The 99 Problems With Flying” by Thrillist Editor (Miami-style) Matt Meltzer.

I read the full list – vacillating between amusement, boredom, and (a few times) being a little offended. Really, Matt? Flight attendants are no longer hot? Perhaps you just haven’t met my friends who are flight attendants. Because they are the epitomy of hawt.

I digress.

The one item in the list that really threw me for a loop in the, “Oh, I’m sure he’s kidding. Surely he’s kidding. He’s kidding right?” way was number 8:

  1. Those a**holes whose nut allergies have ruined peanuts on planes for everybody

So this is, of course, where my interest lies. Hence this open letter to the list author.

Problems With Flying Matt MeltzerDear Matt,

I know your post “The 99 Problems With Flying” must have been tongue-in-cheek. Yes? I’m moving forward with that assumption, because I generally like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

That said, I’m sure you’ve gotten a whiz-bang response to this list. It’s (mostly) entertaining, slightly controversial, and in some areas hits the nail on the head ($6 coffees? I know, but I just can’t help myself, Matt.)

However, may I recommend using a little more discretion and charm when determining that you’d like to go after the “a**holes whose nut allergies have ruined peanuts on planes for everybody”?

There are multiple reasons for this; I’ll list a few for you.

  1. Most of the items on your list weren’t personal. I can see how it’s a big bummer to try to work with your laptop four inches from your face, but I don’t ever remember that particular issue putting someone in a life-or-death situation like the presence of nut protein in the air can. That’s about as personal as you can get. Let’s keep it light and fluffy rather than going after health issues someone did not choose.
  1. Many nut-allergic (and other-allergic, both food and fragrance) individuals don’t set out to ruin your life, for the length of one flight but they do like to live as full of a life as possible. Just because they have an allergy should not preclude them from living a life full of rich experiences.
  1. The food allergy community is tightknit. In case you were joking, this is a heads up that because of the astronomical growth in food allergies in the past decade or so, our community supports and defends others in it loudly and often. Consider this a gentle nudge letting you know that “jokes” like this can swiftly awaken the momma-bear instinct in us. So, be wise and kind as you move forward should you choose to make things personal (see #1 for reference).
  1. I have a feeling that you, or (looking through the comments on your original post) maybe your readers, don’t think that having peanuts on an airplane can really be a life-or-death issue. May I introduce you to a four year-old girl that proves otherwise? (You can find that story here).

Yeah, flying stinks. It’s a hassle to get from Point A to Point B. TSA safety checks, long lines, flight delays. I’m baffled that we willingly go through it all so we can sit in an uncomfortable seat in a metal tube traveling hundreds of miles per hour thousands of feet in the air, as if we’re on a couch that sometimes feels a little earthquakey for too long. We all know it’s a pain, and we live with it because it gets us where we need to go. Usually more quickly than taking a car, train, or boat.

Maybe you’re just worn out from all of your work travels and you could use a vacation.

Whatever the reason for the post, whether it is all meant in good fun or stems from serious frustrations you have, let’s not take it to a personal level. Maybe it would help you to learn all of the ways we have to advocate for ourselves and our loved ones, or how we have to defend our children’s right to be included rather than outcast like lepers in their own little, growing-up world.

We’re headed into a high-stress, busy travel season. I wonder if we wouldn’t be better off packing a little more kindness, empathy, and discernment into our carry-on and a little less sarcasm, grump, and self-entitlement. It could make a world of difference in those crowded airports with flight delays and cancellations. Tis the season, right?

Tiffany Self

Tiffany Self is a wife, mom to "Z", and a lover of words. In an ironic twist, she is an English class dropout who now writes for a living. Tiffany is a freelancer in the Chicago suburbs by way of Seattle and Southern Oregon. She writes about her journey of parenting a child with multiple severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

2 Comments to My Problem With Flying: An Open Letter to Matt Meltzer

  1. Keith

    Great post, Tiffany. Well thought out and to the point. It is sad when a person can’t tell what is really humorous and has their humor messed up because they are so self centered and don’t realize their “humor” is no longer humor. I feel sorry for this person who seems to lack any sign of sensitivity or is just plain ignorant of the dangers that some people face. Maybe someone could send him more information or stories from those who suffer like this. That would be great! Keep up the good work!

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