As I write this, I am sitting on the floor of the Cleveland airport, hanging out by the only free outlet in Concourse C, trying to get this done during my layover so that I can get it uploaded in a timely manner. So far my flying experience has been average at best, but since I saw some egregious missteps already, I thought this would be an excellent time to discuss how to behave during air travel.
Now, as you all know, air travel used to be much more glamorous. There was food and the flight attendants were all conventionally attractive women who wore gloves and tiny skirts. You used to get in your best traveling clothes and walk straight to the plane, while your relatives waved from the gate. (That’s what I saw on Pan Am anyway.)
Now, unless we are on business trips that mandate business clothes, the order of the day is comfort. I myself am in a pair of torn up jeans, a t-shirt, and a white fleece zip-up jacket with my hair in a bun that I threw together before I left. I am somewhere between 90s grunge and college student with a 9 am class right now. I am, however, clean. For the love of all things holy, people, shower before you get on an airplane! Recycled air, sitting too close together, motion sickness: all these things add up to me puking on you before we ever land. Unless you are Jack Bauer and are attempting to save the world, just get the stink off you.
Remember when you could show up to the airport fifteen minutes early, walk through an X-Ray machine with your family and jump on the plane without ever showing ID? Those days are gone. Quit whining about them. Show up to the airport an hour early, at least. Consider going two hours early for major airports during midday flights. If security gets backed up, you will miss your flight. If the TSA is just learning how to use new equipment, and goes really slowly, you will be cutting it terribly close. (This was my problem this morning.) I know you’re not a terrorist. I’m not either, I swear. But this is the way things are. Take off your damn shoes and jacket, raise your hands over your head, and get scanned. Also, pack so that you can take apart your carry on luggage and throw it back together in under 3 minutes. Your fellow travelers will thank you.
On the airplane, follow the instructions of the flight attendant. There are rules for a reason! The reason being so that we stay up in the air in the comically tiny, 9-row plane we are currently flying on, so stop browsing for a book on your kindle during takeoff! This is why you get to the airport early, so that you can get on Amazon before you get on the plane! (This may or may not be directed to the lady next to me on my flight from South Bend to Cleveland this morning. Okay, it is totally directed at her.)
Say please and thank you to your flight attendant while you’re at it. While the acidity of the orange juice I was served on the flight may have turned my stomach during landing, it was awfully nice of the flight attendant to bring it to me. And seriously, just because it’s her job to bring me the orange juice doesn’t mean I can’t use my manners. If a four-year-old can do it, so can I.
Speaking of four-year-olds, kids get restless on planes. They can get upset. The air pressure hurts their ears. Planes are uncomfortable for all of us. Now imagine you have an attention span of three-and-a-half minutes and no impulse control. You would be screaming, too. Put your headphones in and try to ignore it. Your flight will be over soon or they’ll scream themselves hoarse. Imagine being the kid’s parent and having to be right next to the noise and embarrassed by your kid’s behavior besides. Just deal with it. Try offering a little kid your window seat before takeoff so that they stay somewhat amused. It might save your ears later.
Finally, don’t be in such a hurry to get off the plane, especially if you’re at your final stop. There are people who have to get to their next flight that happens to leave in fifteen minutes. Let them off the plane so they can run through the airport. If you are one of these people with a short layover, let the attendant at the gate know before you get on your flight. They can probably move your seat or alert the gate at your next airport that you’ll be making a run for it. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say.
Happy (and polite) Travels!
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