Five Simple Steps To Better Air TravelPosted: December 20, 2013
Air travel. It isn’t hard to find someone to complain about it. So many fingers get pointed at the airlines. To a certain extent, I agree.
The airlines make their own bed. Is it reasonable to charge passengers extra if they’d like to bring along clothes to wear at their destination? This policy favors nudists above all others. While I’ve nothing against nudists, I’m not in favor of them getting breaks that the rest of us don’t.
Do you know who truly makes air travel unpleasant? Our fellow passengers. You and I, we’re nice folks. But we fly with some real jerks. Here are five issues other passengers could address and make travel so much better for us all.
Smoke a lot before you get to the airport.
Smoking is an addiction. That addiction doesn’t just go away because a person applies for a frequent flyer card. Few things are more miserable than being trapped in a metal tube full of recirculated air with a person whose clothes reek of nicotine.
I travel often with a great friend who smokes. For a lot of reasons, she’s a joy to travel with. I’d fly with her even if she smelled bad. She never does, so I know smokers aren’t required to have that pungent smell. Why are these smelly people making us miserable?
Be unprepared in the TSA line
On my most recent flight, I had my only bad TSA experience. There were simply not enough people working to handle the volume of passengers at the airport.
For an hour, my fellow travelers and I shuffled through the twists and turns of the line to clear security. And when he got to the station where a TSA inspector waited to check his boarding pass and identification, the man in front of me in line had neither of them in hand. The rest of the line silently conspired to kill him with his own shoelaces as he acted surprised that he was asked for identification, then rambled through his baggage in search of a boarding pass.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this. The identification process isn’t hard. Anyone standing in line for an hour with nothing to do but watch should be able to understand that the person in the blue shirt at the end of the line is there for a reason.
Stopping in the middle of the concourse
People in airports are, by definition, going places. There are flight connections to be made; others are rushing to get their luggage. Everyone has someplace to be – soon.
Everyone has to be someplace, except the people who stop in the middle of the concourse to read the monitors for their gate assignments. Oblivious to all around them, they stand in everyone’s way as they try to find which gate the flight to Poughkeepsee leaves from. Angry fliers pile up in traffic jams caused by these people.
It doesn’t seem hard to recognize that airports are confined spaces with lots of bodies in them. People with a little awareness of their surroundings move to the side to let others pass. People with awareness of their surroundings are far too rare.
Once we’re all at the gate, we’ve all got to wait together. Most travelers know that the number of seats on the plane usually matches the number of people waiting for seats. There isn’t a big rush to board.
But then the gate agent makes a special announcement – “those who will need a little extra time to board may do so now”. The elderly person who walks with a cane gets up, but has no chance of getting priority boarding. They’re practically knocked over by fit people who want the thrill of being first on the plane.
Respect for others is too much to ask.
Delicate items in the overhead
Because of the aforementioned luggage charges, lot of passengers carry their luggage on with them. Space for luggage in the overhead storage is precious real estate.
And yet, so often planes are held up because some passengers insist on putting easily crushable items in the overhead bins. I’ve seen women carry aboard flower arrangements and deny space to people’s clothes. Hipster dudes carefully remove their fedoras and place them in an overhead bin, forcing someone else to go back to the front of the plane to check their bag, delaying the flight in the process.
Together, we could improve air travel for each other. We don’t need the airlines to help. Think about your fellow passengers before you head to the airport. Be aware of your surroundings. Recognize that you are not the only person traveling.
Oh, and Hipster Dude? Your fedora is so mainstream now.