Monday, June 05, 2006


This is a "HOW NOT TO FLY" lesson for the sad legions of people who haven't a clue how to behave on an airplane.

Here's the reality with the airplane: it has one entrance, which also acts as an exit. It is entrance when you are departing and exit when you've arrived at your destination. So, running to line up and making sure you're the first to be checked through serves not a ton of purpose. Get up when your row is called, proceed forward and PLEASE, like they ask, have your ID ready.

Now, as you board the aircraft, you'll notice that there are lots and lots of people behind you, also waiting to board. If you stand in the aisle trying to wrangle your carry on into the overhead, you're holding up everyone behind you. Step into the seating area and let some people pass. When there's a break in the lineup, then stuff your carry on into the overhead. You're not alone, in case you didn't notice.

On second thought, what exactly do you need to carry on? A bit of cash, the novel you're reading and a magazine or two. You do NOT need that hideous straw hat or the three bags of crap you're dragging on board. I travel with one large suitcase (in which I leave extra room) and one small suitcase that is usually mostly empty. They go in the aircraft's hold.

I take on smallish bag which has my wallet, my book, a couple of magazines, my headphones and sometimes a very light, fleece blanket on board. All go below the seat in front of me. No muss, no fuss and no fumbling in the overheads or seat pockets. I often pack my coat because really, I don't need it in a climate controlled airplane. I am perfect!

Sitting and Rising
As you lower yourself into your seat, keep in mind that when you use the seat in front as leverage, you will causing the person in that seat to suffer the springboard like effects of the seat back hitting their head when you let it go. On my last flight from Gatwick to Calgary, which is a 9 hour flight coming this way, the 'lady' behind me got out of and back into her seat, using mine as leverage, no fewer than 22 times. That means that I couldn't sleep because she was up and down twice every 40 minutes. She did not respond to my very pointed looks as I rolled myself around my seat to stare at her each time she did this. OK. I'm passive aggressive. I should have said something.

Seat Pockets
Every time you go fishing in that seat pocket in front of you, you are essentially in direct contact with the back of the person seated in front of you. Don't yank the pocket open and allow it to slam shut, PLEASE! Books and water bottles feel like books and water bottles when they hit you in the spine!

Said 'lady' on my flight seemed to have stashed a ton of stuff into that seat pocket, as she was in there about every 1/2 hour further precluding any nodding off on my part.

Finally, watch your feet and knees. Every time your knees, head or feet contact the seat in front of you, you're bashing the occupant of that seat, usually in the kidneys.

About Talking.
I'm inclined to say that passengers should just shut bloody up but that's not realistic. So, if you must talk, first make sure the person you're speaking to is interested and please also make sure to notice when they're ready to stop. On a flight from Toronto to Calgary once, I had a seat kicker behind me. Man, I was so ready to kill that guy, who also didn't respond to dirty looks, but finally decided to move to another seat. Sadly, I got myself beside a 'lady' who was unaware that when a person's eyes are closed, they're asleep. She actually poked me to have me stay in a conversation I was SO not interested in.

Also, the only person who is interested in what you have to say - especially when you're traveling alone - is yourself. Do not speak so loudly that everyone in the vicinity can hear you. I guarantee you, if you're trying to make yourself heard or you're not paying attention to the volume of your voice, you are, without doubt, uttering inanities that nobody wants to participate in.

Movies and Music
Speaking of loud, don't turn up your headset so loud that the person next to you can hear whichever radio station or film you're watching. You're not alone or particularly special so don't presume to impose yourself or your choice of entertainment on your fellow travelers.

Going to the Potty
Ok, so again on my Gatwick flight, the couple beside me in middle and window seats, waited until I'd been asleep for about 10 minutes before they decided they needed the loo. So here's the unofficial rule: most people head for the biffy right after a meal is served. Such is the safest route unless you're in the aisle seat. If you're one of those people who can't manage 3 or four hours without a potty break, take the aisle seat and DON'T grab the seat in front of you when you get up or down. That's what the arm rests are for.

The rest of this goes without saying: if you're fat, people are not going to want to sit with you because you're already spilling over onto their space. You may as well be sitting in a stranger's lap. If you don't practice some common courtesy - like keeping your elbows inside the arm rests, you're going to have some unhappy co-travelers. Whenever possible, see if you can take a seat where, in rows of 3, 4 or 5, there is a seat between you an the next passenger.

Do NOT fart or burp. Subjecting your fellow prisoners to your disgusting manners is not allowed.

Ok, they have to come along usually. I have three children, all of whom I've traveled with since they were infants, so I'm not an idiot about this. If you're on a long flight, your kid will start crying at three specific points: at takeoff, at landing and as soon as they're tired and can't lay down in their own bed.

In the first two cases, you must remain seated and belted in, so give your child something to suck on. If they're little, a bottle full of water is the best thing, as it helps them clear their ears, which, due to pressure, usually hurt like crazy for about 15 minutes at takeoff/landing. If your child is of an age where they're unlikely to choke, give them some gum (and don't give me any crap about not giving your kid sugar! There is sugar free and seriously folks, this is not the time to get all health food on your co-passengers!). Gum stimulates the production of saliva, which the child has to swallow, which helps them clear their ears.

The other scenario, when your child is exhausted from a long flight and the inability to lay down, needs so specific action. Do NOT subject the people around you to your screaming child. Get up, take the child to the loo, shut the door and stay in there until the child calms down or falls asleep.

There is NO excuse for making your fellow travelers suffer through the screams of your child, nor is there for trying to make your exhausted child sit when they cannot any more. They need quiet and comfort and the loo is perfectly suited for both. Kids up to about 10 years old have an attention span of maybe 15 minutes. A 9 hour fight doesn't fit that bill.

There is only one way out. Everyone has to leave. Your checked baggage will arrive on the carousel at least 5 minutes and usually closer to 15 minutes after you depart the aircraft. Therefore, it is not necessary for you to hold up everyone behind you whilst you again tackle your overhead baggage in order to make it out of the airplane first. If you can't easily get your bags out or if you have several, WAIT until the aircraft is cleared out or until there is a break in the lineup.

Alternatively, near the end of the flight you can take your baggage down and stash it under the seat in front of you. This way, when you stand, you can quickly slide your bags out and easily get off the flight.

Especially for those at the front of the aircraft, there is no excuse for making everyone else wait. I cannot stand people who hold everyone else up so they make a mad dash for the exit only to stand around with everyone else, waiting for their other baggage to arrive at the carousel.

I wish so much that I could make a short speech in the pre-boarding waiting area about these points, but alas....

More rants coming.... Did anyone see the great piece on CBS last night about the huge market for counterfeit drugs in the US? Oh man, don't get me started on how people can't mange their lives without a pill for every little thing..... And for the record, so-called Erectile Disfunction is almost always related to being fat, being unhealthy or having a very unattractive, unwashed spouse. Boys, Big Pharma had medicalised your willy! Speak up!

1 comment:

  1. LOL, you hit the nail right on the head...people just think that they are the only ones on the entire planet that matter and that only their needs are important.

    Also, don't get me started on our society's need for prescription drugs!


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