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Willpower takes flight on a plane?

Willpower takes flight on a plane?

Old Dec 14, 19, 2:37 am
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Willpower takes flight on a plane?

Inspired by the Teetotal and BA thread I have a question...

Why does flying seem to result in a reduced sense of personal accountability? I ask this in all seriousness.

I never eat desert and have no problem turning down spectacular creations in Michelin starred restaurants but struggle to resist a bit of soggy lemon tart adorned with a middle-aged rasperberry on a plane.

Others may find their “3 drink rule” crumbling or squaring up to fight a loo queue jumper like they did back in 3rd grade.

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Old Dec 14, 19, 2:49 am
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Theory: personal choice and responsibility is reduced as we are all told to queue in line (multiple times), are directed through the airport and onto the plane, and generally are corralled into all doing roughly the same thing. We're told when to buckle our belts, to sit down and not stand up, and generally treated in a way (other than when flying) you'd only treat a child. With that removal of personal choice and responsibility seems to come a removal of accountability and the occasional acting like an idiot. I suspect the fact many people are out-of-time-zone, tired, drunk or hungover often doesn't help either.
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Old Dec 14, 19, 2:54 am
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I haven't seen a peer-reviewed piece of scientific research on this, but the oft quoted percentage of flyers who are at least to some degree nervous of the experience is between 30% and 33%. Which seems a high figure and if you add in the percentage of those who would say "no, never" there probably is another at least sub-conscious chunk to add on top. My late father was nervous of flying despite (I hope) the fact that he used to be an aircraft engineer.

I actually notice it more in airport security checkpoints, particularly those countries such as UK, France, NL, Belgium, Germany, Nordics where they are particularly rigorous. The commonsense of grown, sentient, intelligent men and women seem to go to mush when confronted with the horror induced by a rectangular grey tray. Putting your trust in other people and processes outside your control, with some risk attached, doesn't come easy to everyone.

Finally, realistically there are very few people who fly most days of the week. Maybe a few in this forum, in the real world it's pretty much a statistical zero. Twice a year is far more typical, even twice a month makes it a non standard activity. I don't go to professional rugby matches that often, but when I do I may eat a pie or sausage roll of unknown, perhaps doubtful origin, the meat from which I can't possibly check. As someone concerned for animal welfare I would never do that in day to day eating. So when you do something rare or strange the usual personal defences often fall away.
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Old Dec 14, 19, 4:19 am
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+1 CWS, but.......

Not just northern Europeans, you should see my Hispanic wife when faced with just the entrance to the security hell (sorry, hall!)
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Old Dec 14, 19, 5:30 am
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Interesting question[s]. I certainly find I have different behaviours when flying l/h.

I like puddings [of unknown origin] but rarely eat them in-flight ... usually go for the cheese plate.
I normally drink wine ... why do I tend to have Vodka & Tonic, which I never drink on the ground?

I think my normal inter-personal behaviour remains essentially unchanged. Indeed, perhaps I'm even friendlier to ground and in-flight staff than I would be with similar people in the non-flying environment. Perhaps it's just the "holiday mood" kicking in?
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Old Dec 14, 19, 5:30 am
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Agree with abligh's "infantilization" hypothesis;
I agree with cws's "nervousness" and "occasional treats" hypotheses;

I would add my own:

- Boredom hypothesis: many people get bored on planes so eating, drinking, watching films or playing games help them make time go faster especially in narrow Y seats and especially as occasional flyers often worry about getting bored or the flight feeling long in anticipation (cue: interaction with the cws hypothesis)

- Opportunity and scarcity: I don't know about others, but in my case, there are plenty of "temptations" on planes I would simply not have available at home. OP mentions the soggy; I happen not to have those at home nor do I have game consoles or dvds of stupid Hollywood blockbusters, but on a plane... conversely, at home, I'd have various healthy choices at hand and could (would) go out for long walks. On a plane, movies are bad because they are what people have heard about, food is boring because it is the lower common denominator and cheap, drinks are indulgent because you need to give customers a sense of indulgence, etc.

- Anonymity: "what happens in Vegas..." - planes give people a sense of escape and withdrawal. Many people are on holiday already, others go for work but in contexts that are enabling (let's face it, one feels a bit more of a hero visiting clients in Tokyo or giving a conference in Los Angeles than preparing a report for the boss in two hours or asking the office accountant how his cats are doing. There is also a sense of anonymity and perhaps impunity compared when it comes to behaviours that would be embarrassing at home or at the office. [Quasi-experimental test: do you similarly indulge when travelling with colleagues compared to on your own?]

- Inhibited taste buds: because of the cabin pressure, our taste buds modifies taste. We can't taste the salt or the sugar the same way that we do on the ground (hence why people say that subtle wines are a bit of a waste at 30k feet) so it is quite possible our body will crave/need things it wouldn't otherwise.

- Lack of oxygen: Also, our body reacts differently in sub-pressurised environments. My eyes can feel with tears watching a silly movie that would leave me entirely indifferent on the ground, and people have been known to engage in dodgy behaviour in mountain environments that they would never do a sea level (I'll spare you the details, but it is spicy!) so surely, as I said, the body may think it craves/needs unusual things for those other reasons besides inhibited taste buds...
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Old Dec 14, 19, 6:44 am
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Maybe a simple one for most people, I think. What’s provided is considered ‘free’ and/or you want to get your monies worth having paid a lot for the privilege. Boredom, mentioned above, likely to play a part I think.

In terms of loss of control that CWS mentioned, I find my own tolerance threshold massively reduced going through security. Where you have little if any control of the process. I find myself mentally creating a special place in hell reserved for those using some half a dozen grey trays and generally whose activities hold the queue up. I’m normally reasonably laid back but for whatever reason, and can understand why people won’t be familiar with processes etc. But even so, I find security queues bring out the worst in me. Maybe it’s that desire to get to the lounge (see point one!)
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Old Dec 14, 19, 7:04 am
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In all seriousness, less oxygen. Same reason I tear up watching movies that would leave me stony-faced on the ground.
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Old Dec 14, 19, 8:11 am
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Hunger and limited choice. Not like you can get up and go get something healthy out of the fridge. Being a captive audience also.
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Old Dec 14, 19, 10:54 am
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I do not fit into what passes for present day airplane seats. This means my lizard brain is constantly in and out of a fight or flight response. Drinking helps, unless I'm not getting served, then it makes things worse. This is not an excuse for bad behavior, I have never acted with anything but polite and proper manners. Polite and cheerful FA's go a long way to help too, sadly that is a rarity on United these days.
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Old Dec 14, 19, 11:18 am
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Boredom, stress, a sense that air travel is to be endured and treating oneself to a dessert or extra adult beverage is a just reward.
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Old Dec 14, 19, 10:09 pm
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For me a non Australian currency means just spend, spend, spend. No willpower there.

I love the satay skewers on Malaysian airlines and in the SQ lounge however the high fat content upsets my stomach. I takes all my willpower to not eat it but some times I just can't help myself as it is so yummy.
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Old Dec 15, 19, 9:14 am
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Stress / low control.
even at weight watcher meetings, it’s practically understood and accepted that travel days are a completely acceptable excuse for stress eating without data entry of meal intake.
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