Five Simple Steps To Better Air Travel

English: Travel Air 3000

Maybe we’ve come a long way, maybe not. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

New TSA Identification Checking Machine at Dul...

You know what he wants. Take it out. NOW. (Photo credit: Wayan Vota)

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

011/365: Flight status: delayed

Orange bag guy and bald guy…why are you in the way?
(Photo credit: bmhkim)

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.

Boarding first

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

English: Luggage compartments of an Airbus 340...

Overhead storage. Not a place for the squeamish,or your grandmother’s china(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.


15 Comments on “Five Simple Steps To Better Air Travel”

  1. knace says:

    Yes, yes, yes, yes. and YES. One other thing related to the stopping in the middle of the concourse: People who get off the airplane, walk down the tunnel to the gate and then JUST STOP…..I suppose to get their bearings and to wonder aloud where the baggage claim/ bathrooms/ Uncle Ralph is? grr. Meanwhile passengers who are sitting at the rear of the aircraft…will be sitting at the rear of the aircraft for quite a bit longer. I’m flying on New Year’s Eve this year. =( I’m already visualizing the fedoras. Sigh.

    • omawarisan says:

      Yes…I don’t get the stopping. Did they forget that they are in a long line of people? Are the big signs that say BAGGAGE CLAIM ———> that hard to interpret??

      I’m kind of thinking of a fedora post now.

      Travel safely!

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is amusing how everyone has their ‘blame the airline’ horror travel stories. My husband is an airline pilot and people feel obliged to tell him their bad traveling stories when he’s off-duty…as if he has anything to do with it, really. He shows up in the cockpit and takes them from point A to point B safely, that’s all.

    • omawarisan says:

      The airlines have their issues like any other big company. I’ve usually had very good experiences in dealing with them. A lot of people freak out and berate airline employees if there’s a hitch in their travels; those people screw themselves over. If you treat folks right, they’ll find a way to solve your problem.

      Oh and I get the bad stories thing…I got that all the time in the career I just left.

  3. Oops, didn’t mean to respond anonymously (above comment). Enjoyed the post!

  4. Todd says:

    If I ever win the lottery, I’ll never fly commercial again.

  5. Betty says:

    Oh, nothing sets my hair on fire more than ignorant fliers. I’m with you on all points. However, I think the rush to board comes from the limited bag storage availability for carry on. This is where the airline personnel drop the ball. They have those little frames to gauge allowable size for carry on BUT THEY NEVER ENFORCE IT!
    I never travel with more than one carry on and I always keep it small enough to fit under the seat in front of me.

    • omawarisan says:

      I do see a lot of people carrying on large bags…or 3-4 of them. What is that??

      • Betty says:

        That’s the vicious circle enabled by airline. They charge for checked bags, so people load up with carry on. Then they have the size & quantity limit but never ever enforce it. I’m getting all torqued up right now just thinking about it. I’m with Todd who commented that he will never fly commercial if becoming a lottery winner. In the meantime, I try to use mileage toward upgrades instead of free ticket. It’s a little less hellacious than coach.

  6. When my husband was moving our daughter’s things out of her college (he was traveling as a passenger, not a pilot), the airline personnel told him he’d have to pay extra for an extra bag or box. He responded “never mind, ill just throw it away here..” And he meant it..nothing in it was worth more than the fee or would’ve been missed. They ended up letting him take it.

  7. On a recent flight a woman brought a large styrofoam container of Chinese food she’d bought at the food court. It took about 20 minutes before we were at altitude so she could eat by which time the entire coach cabin smelled like kung pao chicken.
    I understand bringing food but maybe something a less less noxious?

  8. Debbie says:

    This brings back all the FUN of flying (without the aggravating smells, sights, and pushing!) As I’ve said before, you’ve got my vote for whatever executive position you want to claim. And your list should be required reading (perhaps included in a person’s ticket??)

  9. spencercourt says:

    Air travel during holidays is the worst, because a lot of “infrequent fliers” are out there and they are the ones who often lead to delays.

    Long before airlines charged for checked luggage, I only brought a carry-on so I wouldn’t have to hassle with baggage claim. Did this even on two and three week trips. Most lodgings have self serve washers and we’d do a wash after the first week. When we spent a month in Spain we did bring one suitcase for the two of us but that was mainly for the “loot” we’d be bringing back. All the clothes were still on the carry-on.

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