If I’ve ever been on a flight with a famous person, I wasn’t aware of it. My dad, however, one time got to sit next to Christie Brinkley. I gather that was one of his more enjoyable flights.
While I haven’t had Hullk Hogan, I did share an airplane with him once. He does look old. I was on another plane with Jerry Springer and his bald bodyguard.
My airline celebrity list is rather pathetic considering all the time I spent flying.
A little over a month ago I flew to Las Vegas. On the Abilene to D/FW flight, was none other than Ted Nugent, the Motor City Madman. He’s almost a sort of local celebrity, since he comes to the area to hunt often, but it was the first time I had ever seen him. I didn’t say anything, but I was sitting right across the aisle from him, and stood next to him on the airport shuttle at D/FW. Some people asked him for his autograph when we got into the terminal.
I’ve flown many times on business, but the only famous people I’ve seen are Jeff and Brooke Gordon.
Only twice in my life have I see a celeb on a plane or at an airport. When I was a little kid, my brother and I got an autograph from Tommy Smothers at a TWA terminal at JFK airport. And back in the late 80s, when gymnast Mary Lou Retton was an undergraduate at the University of Texas, I sat across the aisle from her on an American Airline flight from LaGuardia to Dallas. She didn’t fly first-class, mainly because she’s so little, coach seats were plenty roomy enough for her. She seemed to have learned to use her small size to good effect- she curled up into small spaces, and avoided being noticed by passersby.
Billy Nye the Science Guy
some NFL player… who showed me his championship ring (but i didn’t care enough to remember his name)
Spirit Of the West
My father was once on a flight to Los Angeles, and it happened that a number of Hollywood stars were on the plane with him, both in front and behind him. I think Peter Lawford was one of them.
This was back in the days when the press and other onlookers would line up on the tarmac to film and photograph famous people as they descended the exit stairs. My dad found himself exiting in between Lawford and someone else famous.
So when he stepped outside, he threw his arms up and waved at the crowd. Dozens of confused photographers snapped shots of him, and when he got down the stairs a number of young women asked him for his autograph–which he dutifully gave, making sure to keep his signature illegible. He still laughs about it.
Oh gosh, I forgot this Tier III-A celebrity - a roadie from the Misfits on a flight from Newark to Detroit. He gave me a t-shirt to give to my son. My son was ALL excited about that!
I was on a plane from LAX to JFK with Nathan Lane, but didn’t realize it until we were both standing at the baggage carousel.
Sha-na-na and Stephen King on different flights. Economy.
I once had an interesting conversation with James Earl Jones in the Delta Crown Room in Anchorage. He had lots of questions about life in “The Last Frontier.” He is a very nice man. He got on a plane back to California and I got on a plane back to Colombia. Years ago, I rode on the same airplane as Chet Atkins - another nice guy.
Garrison Keillor, coach, rude to the flight attendants
Cuba Gooding Jr. Short, friendly, energetic.
Keanu “Whoa” Reeves. Unshaved, silent, tired.
Not my stories but great anyway:
- Mom-in-law’s friend is on a long London-LA flight 5 years ago next to a musician she’s never heard of. Talks with him throughout, he’s a nice enough guy. At the end of the flight, she tells him, “Good luck with your band.”
Turns out it was Phil Collins.
- Friend’s dad is a high-ranking United Nation’s official from India. Sits next to a Superbowl champion (whose name I forget) who fiddles with his Championship ring.
Indian Dad: “Interesting ring.”
Champion: ["It’s from the Superbowl.
Inidan Dad: [Blank stare] What’s that?
Champion: Come on, you know – The Superbowl.
Indian Dad: Oh. It’s very nice.
Champion: Hmmm. What do you do?
Indian Dad: I work for the United Nations.
Champion: [Blank stare] Huh. Is that, like, a company?
Gen. Lucius D. Clay Jr., then a Major, was our squadron Operations Officer and I flew with him a number of time. Heh, heh.
I was on a flight with an entire minor league baseball team on their way back from playing in Mexico, and they were in such a good mood that it lifted the spirits of all the grumpy businesspeople.
But my favorite story is that my father once was flying from Nashville, sitting next to a red-headed stranger who introduced himself as Willie Nelson, and my father DID NOT MAKE THE CONNECTION that the guy might have been in the music business.
Switch from a plane to a train…
One night the singer/writer Jim Carroll (Basketball Diaries, People Who Died) was on my commuter train headed from NYC to the Jersey Shore. I gathered from his conversation he was going to play a show at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, and he was confused about how to get there. I thought about offering him a ride - after all, a few years before I’d paid money to see him perfom at the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco.
But he was being SO nasty and horrible to the conducter that I decided ‘nah’.
Howard Cosell, back in I think the mid-to-late 70s.
I was really young. Dad and I were on the plane, and some old, tired-looking man walked past us back to the bathroom. My dad said, “That was Howard Cosell!” I thought, “It can’t be; he’s not wearing a yellow blazer…”
Charlton Heston - I glanced up and thought “That guy looks like Moses” two beats later I chuckled and blushed as it finally sunk in my thick head. He just grinned and winked.
Alabama (The group and their band.) - All business, not very friendly at all.
Red Skelton - An absolute riot. He kept talking about how much he loved those airport hotdogs and calling us “sonny” and “missy”.
The Boston Celtics, with Larry Bird. The players were in first class,
some of the team people were in coach.
All the female flight attendants spent a lot of time in first class.
I saw Dr. Ruth in a departure lounge in Oklahoma City, and my wife sat next to a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians once - but not a famous one.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee. I didn’t talk to her, but she was about three rows ahead of me on the plane.