By Kristin Fast, Lifestyle Editor and In-House Wit-Cracker
There was a time when traveling on an airplane was the height of sophistication…
Today, not so much. Air travel is merely another form of transit. It is usually the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B and in some cases, the only reasonable way to actually reach Point B.
But is sucks. It sucks rotten eggs. It's stressful, tedious and uncertain. But we know all this therefore most of us have learned to approach air travel the same way we would approach battle: we prepare.
We wear slip-on shoes and yoga pants and take off our watches at security. Our 3 oz liquids are in baggies and there is a palpable sense of relief once the TSA pat-downs are complete and the departure gate is reached… But then, that tight little army of brotherhood and unity that we formed in the security line? It has been replaced by behavior so obnoxious that basically, by the time we land at our destination, I want to slap the taste right out the mouths of at least 5 of you.
In the interest of my (and your) sanity, I propose we create the Airplane Etiquette Manifesto. Future generations will sing our praises because together, we brought not only sexy, but also, civility, back.
Don't bum-rush the boarding process. You will get on. You have an assigned seat. It will be there. No need to crowd the walkway or try to slip in before your row is called. The plane is boarded from the rear to the front and this is to prevent gridlock while folks are storing their carry-ons. You can wait the 7 minutes. By the way, early boarders, if you are in seat 37B, do not take the overhead compartment of 9A. Trust me, you will gain nothing but the knowledge that you have mightily inconvenienced a fellow passenger.
While the whole "charging for checked luggage" fee is the stuff angina is made of, it's here to stay. However, not wanting to pay doesn't mean that you should travel with a tuba case and a diaper bag and expect to get away with it. $25 isn't going to break you so if you honestly cannot get your holiday togs in a 45″ rolling suitcase, then just go ahead, suck it up, and fork over the money. If I see one more person trying to shove a human sized dufflebag into an overhead, I am going to be forced to kick them in the shins when we land. But I'll smile as I do it.
Once we are all seated and the plane reaches altitude and we are free to move about the cabin and turn on our electronic devices, do not, and this is a biggie, DO NOT recline your seat. Unless you are on a red-eye, it is actually beyond rude. I know most of you think it's acceptable because if it wasn't, why would the damn seats recline in the first place? However, as soon as you push that button and slam that chair into nap mode, the poor slob behind you can no longer use their tray table, view the built in entertainment system, cross their legs, or even get up to use the terrifying lavatory. If you attempt to sprawl back into my lap I will tap you on the shoulder and (quite nicely) ask you to please bring your seat back to its full upright position (flight attendant language sounds official) and if you are nice about it, I will offer to buy you an overpriced drink; if you are refuse, I will spend the entire flight banging into the back of your seat until you surrender.
While airplane food is not known for being delicious and most airports offer better options to purchase and tote on board, try very hard not get on with what I will politely call "smelly food". This includes burgers, burritos and tuna fish sandwiches. Aromas on planes linger and no one wants to land with the stench of stale french fries clinging to their hair.
Be nice to the flight attendants. It is not their fault that chips cost $5 and they can no longer accept cash. It also isn't their fault that the flight is late, bumpy or that you might miss your connection. Even if they are rude (which many are and it's hard to blame them because what a thankless job) don't be snotty back because they will rat you out to the TSA and you will be given an invasive pat down every time you fly for the rest of your life.
Be patient with deplaning. I know the urge upon landing is to make a mad dash for the exit as soon as the Captain turns of the fasten seat belt sign but, for the love of God, do not jump up, grab your bag and then stand in the aisle with your ass in my face. Being first off that plane, unless you have a cooler full of donor organs, isn't going to make any sort of difference in your life. Just sit down. I cannot count how many times I have been unable to get out of my very own row because of some enthusiastic type just having to be first off… only to see them, 10 minutes later, waiting at baggage claim.
So there you have it: 6 simple little courteous rules that will make the flight happier for everyone. While we may never see a return to the glamour of the Jet Set era, we can, with a little courtesy, perhaps try to bring back a tiny bit of joyful adventure to the marvel that is flying.