In my first 90 days in my new job, I have traveled to San Francisco, Omaha, Washington D.C. /Maryland/Virginia, Houston, and Chicago so while there’s still plenty of the country left to see, I do have a few flights under my belt. Soon , I’ll be on a first name basis with the Will Rogers World Airport TSA agents. While I still have a lot to learn, I have figured out a few valuable lessons, like you really do need to arrive early or you take the risk of not making your flight (See First Day Worst Day) and you’d better know which airport you’re going to (See The Five Stages of Flight Cancellation Grief).
In my first three months, I’ve also seen some pretty unsavory behavior in my fellow travelers-stuff that would make your mother blush, unless your mother is the one that sat behind me last week, passing gas. So, I’ve made a short list of a few things that you shouldn’t do when traveling. These things should be common sense but aren’t because we already know that good sense isn’t common.
1) Don’t cut in line on the plane: I don’t know what it is about lining up for boarding and deplaning that makes people lose their ever loving minds. But it never fails that I see some eager beaver march up the aisle to the front of the plane as soon as the seat belt sign goes off. Instead, it is much more polite to let passengers deplane according to their row instead of cutting them off by hopping out into the aisle and walking up beside their row so they can’t get out. I have never understood this. The people rushing by me to get off the plane are the same ones ten minutes later standing beside me in baggage claim, waiting on our bags. If you’re in a huge rush, don’t check a bag. If you’re in the back of the plane, wait your turn.
2) Don’t pass gas on the plane: I realize there are pressure changes and all of that. But, take some Gas-X. Go to the bathroom if you need to equalize some pressure. But, for the sake of all that is good and holy, please hold it in. We are all trapped with you in close quarters. We don’t need to be gassed with your stench. Control yourself. If you can’t control it, perhaps you need to travel with a GasBGon seat cushion. Buy one here! GasBGon Seat Cushion
3) Don’t drink too much: Last week, I was sitting beside a man who was working on his laptop and we’d made it through 3/4 of the flight without really talking. In the dark of the plane, we heard a sound, softly at first. As it grew louder, we both started to look around to identify the source of the noise. Finally, we figured out that the dude one row up and across from us had his headphones on and was singing. The man next to me said, “Um, is that….Rocket Man? That’s awesome!” We both started cracking up. Drunkie grew louder and louder. Next, he moved on to his terrible rendition of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville”. Then, shortly before landing we were all subjected to the sounds of the dude throwing up in his barf bag. Not awesome anymore.
4) Don’t stop in the flow of foot traffic: This goes for all areas of the airport, jet ways, moving sidewalks, etc-if you need to stop, move over to the right. There’s nothing more frustrating than walking along at a fast pace and having someone come to a dead stop in front of you. I nearly mowed down a senior the other day because he unexpectedly stopped to pick up his bag. On moving sidewalks and escalators people will frequently walk on the left and they don’t appreciate some yahoo standing there blocking the way. Pull over to the right if you want to stop or stand.
5) Don’t be a sheep: I see so many people standing in lines and I’ve started to ask questions before I do the same. Do I have to stand in this line? Is there another way? Last week in Chicago, there was a line with 50 people in it and a line with 1 person in it. Instead of just blindly following everyone else, I asked the attendant, “What’s the short line for?” She said, “That’s if you already checked in online and just need to drop your bag.” I had so guess what? Short line for me! If I hadn’t asked, I would have been in line for at least 20 minutes for no reason. In the Oklahoma City airport, there’s a “secret” security line that most people don’t know about. Everyone sees the obvious one right in the middle of the airport so they go stand in the long line there. But, if you walk down a little farther by Southwest, there’s almost never a line and you can get to all the gates. So, if there’s a long line, my advice is to ask if there’s any way you don’t have to stand in it. Also, always check in online and print your boarding passes at home. You have a much better shot at bypassing the long lines. Carry on bags instead of checking them when possible and you don’t even have to go to the counter at all.
Sometimes flying really is a hassle but often, it is made worse by those inconsiderate people around you. Don’t be a burden to your fellow travelers. Be kind. Be thoughtful. I’ve already discovered that my i-pod and headphones are my most cherished traveling accessory whether it is to drown out the sounds of the chatty redhead ahead of me in line at 5 am or the over- served Jimmy Buffet fan.