W-a-a-a-y before 9-ll conditions, when I was a young seminarian and still married to my first wife, who was a United stewardess, I had a second hand experience with Buckley.
Many was the time my young bride would return from flights with tales of hair-raising conditions, outrageous co-workers actions, celebrity encounters like Rod Stewart kissing all the attendants and making them blush, and many a difficult customer. William F. Buckley became her prize story.
Known for his affectations and dismissive-ness, his presence in the first class section did not go unnoticed by the crew. Nancy was working his section that day and noticed he had the two tray-tables down next to him, and covered with papers; he being in the window seat. At take off, she made the usual announcement for seat backs and tray tables to be returned to their upright positions. While strolling the aisle and double checking, she noticed Mr. Buckley working with his head down, his "office arrangements" unchanged.
"Please clear your things, Sir, and prepare for take off," she said. "All tray tables have to be stowed for now."
She was taken off guard when he raised his head with that patented, smug look, and said, "Give me one good reason why I should?" Nancy was speechless and kept moving down the aisle, all the while perturbed at him, and herself for getting got.
On her return down the aisle to take her seat, she stopped at Buckley’s row and simply said: "I’ll give you three good reasons....."
"What?" he said, having already forgotten the exchange.
"You said give you one good reason why you should have to comply with my request. I’ll give you three. One, it’s the law. Two, should we have to de-plane it could restrict movement and be a safety hazard. Three, and most importantly, because I said so."
Buckley’s face did that also-patented grin and he said, "Excellent reasoning. Very well, then." At which point he closed up shop until cruising altitude.
He was such a pompous ass, but so good at it, you had to admire him. Nancy always told that story with great pride and delight.