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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Be a Decent Plane Passenger

Being a decent plane passenger is not only easy, but it makes traveling in a flying tin can a lot happier for everyone involved. You don’t have to be a jerk, just because you hate flying. Just keep in mind that at the end you’ll be somewhere cool, so try not to encourage others to punch you. I know being in close proximity with strangers is hard. I’m an introvert, I like my personal space, and I don’t much love people in general.

I have yet to get into a fist fight or shouting match with anyone on a plane or in the airport, as much as I’ve wanted to on several occasions. I feel like a little courtesy goes a long way. You aren’t the only one probably having a hard day. Travel can induce stress, but letting it get the best of you is a terrible way to live.


I said it. Things are going to go wrong and plans are everchanging sometimes. Getting all uppity about things you can’t change isn’t helpful to anyone. Chill. Have a Plan B. Even if that plan is just you going to the bar to get a beer and wait for your delayed flight.

Travel is like life. Not everything runs smoothly, and most of the time it’s not your fault. Learn to roll with the punches and breathe. Things will work out and you’ll eventually make it to where you’re headed. The same goes for when you’re stuck on the tarmac with no timeline as to when your flight is going to take off or be able to deplane. If you’re calm and dealing with it like a grown up it’s possible others will too. Aggravation just breeds more aggravation.

Imagine if someone came into your work while you're just doing your job and started yelling at you because they were unhappy and wanted to make you miserable, but there was a door on your cube, so you couldn't even get away from them. Yeah, that's about what it's like for a flight attendant (and all the other plane passengers for that matter). I've already worked retail. I don't particularly want to live through the experience again. Flight crew have hard jobs. You don't need to make it harder.

Bring snacks

Don’t be hangry. You should already know that you aren’t getting fed on your flight. Sometimes they even have to skip the tiny bag of pretzels you don’t actually want anyway. Plan ahead. Pack a few snacks and a bottle of water in your bag for when you start to get puckish and need to eat. It also helps to keep from getting dehydrated and may stave off jet lag when you arrive at your final destination.

Charge your phone

My phone is the source of much of my entertainment (as is my iPad mini), so I always make sure those are charged up before getting on the plane. Getting bored and restless can make one cranky and horrible. Have a source (or several sources) to amuse yourself, just in case you can’t sleep, because I guarantee you that 98% of the people you sit next to don’t want to be your friend and would rather just do their own thing than talk to you the entire flight. Also, the other people on the plane don’t want to hear your loud conversation. Sorry. They just don’t.

Learn to play by yourself…or bring a game that you can play with your travel companion. Bring your headphones (because they also don’t want to listen to your game or movie while they’re trying to read or sleep) and a back-up battery to keep charged on longer flights. I always make sure to download a few games that are fun and don’t require internet connection.

Pack a magazine or book

There are times when electronics can’t be used or your devices give up the ghost or your eyes hurt from the light they give off in the dark. I always have a few magazines in my bag for when I just want to read something short, or do a crossword, or look at pictures.

It’s also good to have a book of games that can be played on paper, if you like those sorts of things. I like logic problems. They make the time go by fast and I’m working my brain out. Maybe you like Sudoku or word searches. Get one of those instead.

Keep your shoes on

I know you want to be comfortable on the plane, but so does everyone else. Wear shoes that are not restricting and make your feet angry, or bring a pair of slippers to change into once on board.

Don’t be an armrest hog

If you’re a middle-seater, both of those armrests are, technically, yours. The aisle has their own and the window has, well, the window. The person in the middle doesn’t really get anything going for it, except not getting hit in the elbow by the drink cart, so let them have the armrests. It’s the least you can do for a person who’s stuck in between two strangers for 2+ hours.

Wait your turn

The plane is pulling up to the gate. You can take off your seatbelt and talk on your phone, but the doors aren’t even open yet. You getting up and jumping into the aisle to wrestle your bag out of the overhead is not helping anyone. Unless you have a tight connection to catch, don’t expect to be able to run off the plane, because you’re an adult. Act like it. The plane will be deboarded by aisle. You might as well wait until it’s your turn to shove out in the aisle and get your bag. Relax. You aren’t going to get stuck on the plane, so sit down instead of doing that weird hunch trying to stand up in front of your seat.

Stop taking up all the overhead space

I know, I know. Nobody wants to pay $50 for their bag to fly to their destination, so you gotta carry all your ish with you. I get it. I don’t check bags and I fly with a carry-on. The point is, that’s what the overhead bin is for: your carry-on. Not for your purses and jackets and briefcases.

Stop taking up all the space that other people have also paid for with these things that can fit under your seat. It makes other passengers want to hit you, plus it takes a ton of extra time for the poor flight attendants to rearrange things to make them fit. If not for you (and the other 30% of passengers doing this), you could have left early and already been somewhere fun.

Pay attention to your kids

Yes, I know that people are aggressively against babies/children on planes, but there are a few people that make it that way for the majority. Instead of expecting other people to just endure your kids when you're out in public (you're still a parent, you know), pay them extra attention. Prepare them for what they should expect on a plane, bring them gum, toys, snacks, and possibly a tablet. Whether or not you allow them electronics at home, this can be an exception to the rule. 

If someone politely asks you to have your child stop kicking their seat, don't look at them like it's their fault. I know traveling is stressful, and so is parenthood, but unless you want someone to throttle you in front of your kid, because you act like they should just deal with an unwanted shiatsu massage to their lumbar, please do something. 

Kids have short legs. I understand, so do I. It makes it hard to keep comfortable when they are dangling from the seats. Bring a foot rest (one of those inflatable ones) that you can shove between the seats and they can put their little legs on. When they're restless, they kick. It also helps to have that entertainment for them on hand so they are occupied. I love when a kid has a tablet and is mesmerized for two hours, but not so much when I have to hear it at full blast. Remember a pair of headphones for them too.

Other things that you might consider with children: 
  • bring a change of clothes and a plastic bag, because accidents happen. With babies, this can often extend to others, so I'd suggest bringing the same for you. I mean, I know you have clothes in your carry-on...in the overhead. Just have something handy that you have stashed in your diaper bag, including antibacterial wipes. On one trip I somehow spilled orange juice right in my lap, making my mom mad at my clumsiness. Of course, she tried to open hers, did the exact same thing, and then said she was sorry. But we still had sticky orange juice laps, even after a trip to the bathroom to clean up.
  • Changing a diaper at your seat is not something anyone wants to see or smell. I know the bathrooms are minuscule, but they do have those sweet pull-down changing tables over the toilet, even if you have to stand halfway out the door to use it.

Keep things you want during the flight under your seat

If I have to look up one more time to see someones butt or midriff in my face, I'm going to start pushing them over. Once stuff is in the overhead, it's there for the remainder of the flight, barring emergency. Keep your magazines, laptop, extra sweater, snacks, and knitting project in your personal item bag at your feet. Think how sucky it'll be for everyone if you hit unexpected turbulence and all those bags fall out onto heads and your break your neck in the aisle. 

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