As a bookend to my blog post “On The Way To Peru, Some Tips For Air Travelers” I have decided to write another, as I am not quite yet done with the travel advice necessary to make air travelers understand that when they are in an airport or airplane, they are not travelling in a vacuum. Further to this is to make them understand that they are not in their living room with one hand in their pants, the other on a TV remote channel surfing with a bowl next to them of a processed snack that provides them with 4000% of the daily recommended amount of salt. There are others around and they can see you and hear you.
As you probably already know, I almost missed a connecting flight to Lima due to my delayed flight from Newark and those mischievous Airport Travel Gods. Today, I was lucky enough to be delayed again, this time for two and a half hours, connecting back from Miami to LaGuardia. After a sad face goodbye to my LA travel buddy and his LA flight leaving on time, I was subjected to more travel indignation. The last thing you want after you have gotten up at 4:00am to make your first flight, have gone through security and passport control twice and already flown six hours is to rush to your gate only to watch the departure time increase in 15-minute increments before your eyes like sand through an hourglass.
In my first post about tips for air travelers, I tackled such subjects as hygiene, security, boarding, boarding group, proceeding to your seat with conviction, carry-on baggage and food on board. After my second significant delay and my resulting exponential hatred of all mankind, here are some more handy tips.
Your kids may be the apple of your eye and look great on holiday cards but please shut them up. If they can’t behave, don’t take them. Dear Mr. and Mrs. couple with baby [and yes this goes for the gays and their gay-bys too]: no one asked you to have children; this was your own doing. Therefore, no one wants to hear them scream for half of the flight. Parenting is certainly not an easy task, but before you contemplate bringing little Brittany or Tyler on the plane, be sure you can handle them in a TGIFridays first as a test. If they scream for more than 20% of the time, keep them home, sedate them, give them to a relative or put them in a child kennel or whatever else exists for parents these days.
If you are unhappy about something on a plane, it is better to keep it to yourself or risk being taken away by air marshals. Since my returning flight was delayed two hours and, yet again, the airline did not confirm the size of the passengers’ carry-on bags closely enough, there was not enough room in the overhead bins for everyone’s collection of ceramic pigs or whatever other cheap made-in-china crap they bought while on vacation. On my flight, this upset one man particularly badly.
He was about 5’10”, Latino, with huge sunglasses, a t-shirt that read “I love Miami,” huge red headphones on his ears, and [as it is said] pants on the ground. As he could not find a place for his bag, he could be heard saying [quite loudly] – “this airline is f**kin sh*t, youknowhatimsayin? f**k yo, they can’t do sh*t right. f**k them. f**k this bitch-a** f**kin plane.” While I pondered his vernacular, he then walked down the aisle towards the back of the place slamming each overhead shut when he discovered they were full. Now, in his defense, his backpack was not very large, but his anger, of course was.
Unfortunately his anger almost caused him to be escorted off of the plane which would then have made me angry because it would have further delayed the flight. However, I would have articulated my anger is a slightly different way, using proper grammar. The moral of this story is, just like we want the children to do, if you are angry, keep quiet about it until you have landed and are back in your crib yo.
Don’t blame the flight attendants. On my second delayed flight, the flight attendants were very sweet and attentive, and had to deal with flight delay just like the passengers did. Just like any front-line service position, they are often charged with the unenviable task of being the voice of the company and keeping the passengers happy when the circumstances around them are anything but happy or in their control. You should thank them every time you see one, it is certainly not an easy job. Unless, of course, they fling attitude your way or are a little bizarre, which can happen from time to time.
If you for whatever reason you want to know the technical specifics about the airplane delay, don’t keep asking the same question when you don’t have the capacity to understand the answer. The flight attendants on the second delayed flight had to deal with the lowest common denominator air traveler who every five minutes would ask the same question about the mechanical delay we were experiencing as if they had an engineering degree from MIT and would be able to understand the answer if they heard it. As I heard the question being asked time and again, I wondered if these same [mostly men] could even operate their washing machine at home.
If you are sitting in an exit row, please read the exit row instructions. Sitting in an exit row gives extra leg-room, but with it also comes some responsibility. If you are going to sit in an exit row, you may be called upon to make a life or death decision for your fellow passengers. As such, you should at minimum review how to open the emergency exit door. On a Lufthansa flight earlier this year, I was in an exit row and was actually quizzed by the flight attendant. If I had not answered properly they were going to move me. Now THAT is German precision.
On this flight I was again in an exit row, and was seated next to a couple who could not speak English but nodded their heads in a confirmation that they understood the tasks at hand when the flight attendant asked us in English. Seated behind them were two of their small children. As I [and only I] reviewed the instructions related to being seated in an exit row, I noticed the following listed under “exit seat criteria”: “If you are seated in an exit seat please ask to be reseated if [#7] you have a condition or responsibilities, such as caring for small children, that might prevent you from performing these functions.” As I didn’t want to be a snitch and/or cause [another] international incident, I said nothing. However, I knew that if something happened, the couple next to me would be doting on their crying children while I opened the exit door and guided the passengers to safety, heralding my many CNN interviews, ensuing book tour, reality TV show and successful Senate campaign culminating in winning the U.S. Presidency in 2020. As president, I could then make it a federal offense to not be in compliance with exit row requirements.
As I’ve mentioned before, traveling can sometimes be hard work, but if we all do what we can to help better this collective experience, it will help ease the pain. Remember, you never travel alone.