I know that some people's travel plans going into spring and summer involve flying, so I thought I would whip up a quick, handy airline etiquette guide (see image above). Here are some suggestions on how to make everyone's travel experience a bit less gnaw-my-arm-off annoying.
- Don't be smelly. If you are the person who brings an egg salad sandwich for your in-flight dining, you are the worst. Opt for something with a low odor factor, and avoid things that can induce dangerous allergic reactions in your aisle-mates, like PB&J. Also, while I know it's hot and stuffy when you're cruising along in a tin can in the sky, do everyone a favor and make an effort to not reek. Shower before you go to the airport. Don't forget deodorant. Lay off the old lady rose perfume or the heavy musk after shave. And avoid bean burritos, even if they are good for the heart....
- Have your act together. There's a lot of waiting involved in flying, and plenty of chances for you to get on someone's last nerve. Try to do better with a little advanced planning. Wear slip-on shoes, not boots with so many buckles it looks like they are guarding Fort Knox. Skip a belt, if possible. Don't bring contraband to the security checkpoint, even if it's innocent. No one cares if you just bought that Big Gulp right before you got to the airport. Either slam it or toss it. Have your boarding pass/ID ready to go at all times. Don't bring a "carry-on" bag the size of a MINI Cooper. Jeez Louise.
- Be space conscious. Airplane seats and aisles are little. People can be big. Tripping on a wayward bag in the aisle can cause injury. Hogging the armrest can cause frustration. I think flight attendants are justified in whacking your arm with the drink cart if it's sticking out in the aisle. See #2 above about carry-on luggage. Those compartments are modestly sized, and must be shared. Don't be a jerk about it.
- Listen. I think it must be supremely annoying for flight attendants to gaze out in the cabin and see that no one is listening to their safety spiel. Then they have to go up and down the aisles repeatedly, telling the same people to put up their tray tables and power down their electronic devices. Just listen and follow instructions. It's not difficult to do.
- Zip it. I don't want to hear about some guy's raging party weekend from three aisles over. I may want to talk to you, aisle mate, or maybe I don't. Please don't presume that your stories about your ex are better than my book that I get precious little downtime to read. I don't want to listen to your loud cell phone conversation about tomorrow's meeting that you insist on having despite the fact that everyone is supposed to turn off their phones. Your business is not so important that you get to break the rules. And I know that you can't control your infant's crying, but you can have a chat with your rambunctious 8 year old. Pay attention. If people are glaring at you, some adjustments may be in order.
- Simmer down. We're all in this together. We all want spacious seats, quick recognition from flight attendants, to depart and arrive on time. But none of that is a given. It doesn't do anyone a service for you to raise your voice. Don't make threats, don't get loud, don't get passive aggressive or aggressive aggressive. Cool it. Let's just get to Hawaii already (or, if we're going somewhere less exciting, let's pretend).
- Keep your kids in check. You may have heard about parents who give out gift bags to folks sitting around them for tolerating their baby. That's a really nice thing to do. But also, totally unnecessary. Crying babies happen. They can't help it, and if it's something you're worried about, be proactive and bring your own headphones or earplugs. But someone who can help it is the kid who is kicking the back of my seat like s/he's trying to make a soccer goal. Or who keeps popping up to talk to Grandma in another seat and yanking on my headrest. Or who is playing a videogame at top volume. No thanks. Parents, it's time to parent and put a stop to such shenanigans.
- Don't dilly dally. Aaaaah. We're here. The door is open, and passengers are allowed to disembark. Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Why am I still standing here with my head crookedly craning against the overhead compartment? Why isn't anyone moving?!?! Oh, I see. It's that guy - the one going against the flow to get his 75 pound bag from the overhead bin six aisles behind his seat. Oh, and it's that lady who is having a loud phone conversation about the location of the baggage terminal. Oh, and it's that guy who just waited until this very second to pack up his laptop. Oh, and it's that lady who looks to be changing her clothes. GET A MOVE ON IT. Pack up your stuff when the flight attendants say that the plane will be landing. Change clothes/make phone calls/eat/etc. once you get in the terminal. Don't bring an oversized bag in the first place. The terminal gate is not the place for a holding pattern.
Even if we can't make the skies friendly, we can at least try to make them polite. After all, Hawaii awaits.