"Your problem is not important!"
But trust me-- commercial airlines had silliness before that.
Friend and SWAT magazine publisher Rich Lucibella tells the hilarious tale of an airline security type deciding that his Chris Reeve Sebenza lock blade knife was "menacing"-looking. See, there was a time when we could carry pocketknives on planes, and somehow they didn't crash into buildings. As long as the knife was under a given length, you were okay. Rich's admittedly-large pocketknife (Sebenzas are superb tools worth the near half a grand you'll pay for 'em. There's a lot of metal in the blade, which is meant for all manner of "work" which the name translates to.) was within the specs, and should have been passed through, but it was too scary. When it was deemed that the knife should be checked in his already-checked luggage, the security type took the locked-open knife and RAN down the terminal with it, with Rich trailing after begging to just be allowed to close the knife. Which they did all in the name of safety.
Well, Rich tells it better. :)
One of my own surreal moments came in 2000, when I flew out to Oregon to meet up with my wife and kid to do some camping. I bought a super-cheap ticket that took me from the D/FW airport to Portland International by way of Phoenix. (Apparently Northwest Airlines' idea of a straight line was a triangle.) After a short layover, I was soon settling into my window seat next to the door (more leg room, but you have to declare that you'll help people out in case of an emergency. I'm cool with that), watching the Arizona desert recede beneath the wings of the DC-10 out of my porthole, when the pilot mentioned over the PA that we were at 15,000 feet and climbing to our cruising altitude of 30,000, and just now appearing at the foreword port side was a good view of the Grand Canyon, which we would soon be flying over.
Having seen the Grand Canyon for exactly 45 minutes in my life a couple of years before, I wanted to see it now. I plastered my face to that window like a kid at a street side toy store window, and angled to catch a view of the canyon that stopped Vásquez cold in 1540. The chasm is frickin' profound, even at 3 miles high and climbing. I was amazed that it stretched beyond the horizon, the depth from the bottom to the rim was full quarter of my height above the Colorado River within.
The stewardess took up the public address mic, and told us that, for our in-flight enjoyment, the view screens above us would be showing an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire! I of course ignored such tripe, and continued to gawk at one of the world's wonders from my privileged height, squinting against the afternoon sun. The stewardess got back on the P.A., and asked all of the window seat passengers, especially on the left side of the plane, to close their sun visors so that the sunlight didn't interfere with other passengers' viewing of the small LCD viewing screens. I smirked. Nothing doing. I just pushed my fat head and shoulders that were already in front of the window a little closer to block the sun as best I could. But there was no way I was shutting off this view of what I really needed to see.
"Um, sir?" A stewardess was addressing me. "Please close your sun visor, so that other passengers..."
"No." I said. "Not while I can see the Canyon."
There was almost an Incident, before she backed down.