Friday, July 9, 2010

Don'ts For Air Travel

I’m out of town for a wedding this weekend, and decided earlier in the week that today’s post was going to be all about the idiot things that people do when they’re flying. I was planning on observing closely and taking copious notes so that I would be nicely prepared.

Instead, I spent yesterday morning tearing through the terminal, barefoot, like I was in some kind of “hilarious” scene in a “hilarious” movie. I looked…well, like I was one of those idiots. And why? I’m so glad you asked! That takes me right into the first Don’t.

Don’t Assume You Need Less Time Just Because You Live A Little Closer to the Airport Than You Used To
This was what killed us this morning. My husband – whom I love dearly, I promise – says that he had somehow gotten it into his head that our flight was a full hour later than it actually was, but I am less convinced. What I think is that he…well, he did that, up there. And so, instead of checking in an hour and fifteen minutes before our flight was supposed to leave, we tried to check in half an hour before. Because it was less than 45 minutes before flight time, we couldn’t check a bag, so we made our way to the security line, planning on carrying on our luggage. If we made the flight, which we did not have high hopes for.

Because we had been planning on checking our bag, we had some full-sized products with us and we ended up having to toss them (dumbest TSA rule ever, yes?). Along with various hair products and my husband’s deodorant, I lost an over-half-full bottle of Philosophy face wash. All told, it was probably nearly a hundred bucks worth of stuff – mostly mine.

I made it through security and, as mentioned, booked through the terminal, without putting my shoes back on, while my husband had to go through the whole shebang twice – he piled stuff on top of the laptop, which is frowned upon, and tried to sneak some other hair products through. Eventually, we both made it to the gate and, happily, the flight was running late and there had been two lovely humans who had volunteered to give up their seats, so we were able to get on the flight – though not together – and made it to our destination, mostly intact.

Next time? I’m in charge of when we leave.

Don’t Assume You Belong In The “Expert” Line
Speaking of going through security, you may have noticed that in some airports there are now three line options – Family/Medical, Casual and Expert. No one really wants to get stuck behind the high-maintenance folks in the Family/Medical line, but that does not mean that you should go through the Expert line. If you’re going to forget to take off your shoes, assume that “Remove your belt” doesn’t apply to you, or…well, pile stuff on top of your laptop (HUSBAND), then you need to move to the Casual Traveler line, and let the businessmen plow through. It doesn’t make you less of a person, but it does make people feel less murderous towards you.

Don’t Ignore Simple Directions
Which leads me to this very very easy Don’t. If the nice people in charge at the gate say it’s time for boarding rows 15-22, and you’re in row 12? Just wait your turn. If they say that people with one under-the-seat carryon can board – and they specify that people with roller bags should not board at this time? Don’t try to sneak your roller bag through. You are not that special, I promise.

Don’t Let Your Kids Run Rampant
This is my disclaimer: I do not have kids. I do not know what it is like to travel with kids, but I am well aware that it cannot be easy. I like kids a lot and I tend to give parents a lot of leeway when they’re having to deal with their kids in public. It is stressful and not easy and I admire them for doing it.

However. When you’re stuffed onto an airplane with a hundred people, all of whom are anxious and cranky? Don’t just Think Of The Children. Think of the rest of us, too. I was next to a kid once who screamed and kicked the seat in front of him the whole flight. THE WHOLE FLIGHT. His mom spent the flight with her eyes closed, smiling, pretending to sleep, I assume because she didn’t want to give him the attention he so clearly wanted. Not a bad parenting strategy at home, but a terrible choice on a four hour flight.

Don’t Smell
All that pressurized air is unforgiving. If you absolutely need to be perfumed or cologned, use a light touch. If you’ve been drinking coffee all morning, grab a mint. Wash your hands after your last pre-plane smoke. And please oh please, don’t rip every single perfume ad out of your magazine, open it, rub it on your arm, and then toss it on the floor next to you. Unless, of course, you’re dying to have the barf bag next to you deployed.

All told, air travel does not have to be an entirely unpleasant experience. Show up on time, follow the rules, and use some common sense and courtesy, and we’ll all fly happily together (really, you could just reread this - it all applies). And, come to think of it, those are excellent rules for life in general, aren't they?

(And, of course, please keep your motherfucking snakes off that motherfucking plane.)


  1. My absolute favorite horrible child on a plane story ever, ever, ever, from a friend who travels so much she called Up in the Air "the story of my life."

  2. Haaaaah. "Isn't that the GRANDEST canyon you've ever seen??!" is amazing.