eating my way around the world

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” --St. Augustine

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Location: Chicago, IL, United States

Twitter @nikonjunkie

09 August 2008

An Air Traveler's Guide to Etiquette

Since I always seem to be on a plane and the general populace seems to be getting less sharp by the day, here are a few little guidelines to help you be less of an ass while on one of Airbus or Boeing's newest tin cans. Let the surl-slinging commence:

1. Unless you are in fact moving to another country, there is no need to bring 40 bags with you. I often see people that have to get one or more of those rolling luggage carts and pile them to the ceiling with mismatched bag after mismatched bag, each of which ostensibly has everything but the kitchen sink inside. I wouldn't be surprised if TSA did find some kitchen sinks in luggage every now and then. Who are you people? Pack a suitcase. Grab a tiny carryon. If you need more shit, buy it there. Stop fucking up the check-in line. This goes double for you jackasses that have to give yourselves an extended patdown to find some ID when you reach the counter. Was it a surprise to you that you are in the airport??

2. What is this newfangled invention called the interwebs? It's what you wankers should be using to consult for exactly what you are allowed to carry on the plane prior to entering the airport. If I have to stand behind one more wanker that doesn't know a quart-sized Ziploc from his anal cavity, I may have to rip his arm off and beat him with it.

3. As for you people that wear every piece of hard-to-remove metal jewelry that you own and/or a belt with a metal buckle as big as your face, what the hell is the matter with you?? You're going through an airport x-ray. Is it a surprise that you're going to have to take all that shit off? Because of other dipshits like you, I guarandamntee ya that everyone behind you is late and is shooting eye bullets into your back the more you fumble at yourself. Double asshole points go to those short-bus alums that feel the need to wait until the x-ray has already beeped at them to start removing all their crap. Oh, and take your damn shoes off. You don't look that trustworthy.

4. LOUD cell phone convos at the gate. Yes, everyone and their brother has a cell phone now. The day the FCC allows cell phones to be used on board is the day I volunteer to fly on the wing, but is it so much to ask to not bellow your conversation into the gate area? First of all, I have completely given up trying to hold a meaningful convo in the airport, what with the PA interrupting every 20 seconds with, "American Airlines 232 to Miami, now boarding Gate 15." Trying to talk OVER all this racket is just folly. Use your indoor voice, and if that isn't sufficient, hang up and text the person.

5. Boarding a plane seems to completely bewilder people. I don't know why. If you feel the need to rearrange the shit in your carryon bag(s), please do so in that downtime you have sitting at the gate (you know, instead of yapping ceaselessly on your cell phone). It's you douchebags that will block the entire aisle with your ass while mysteriously moving random items from Bag A to Bag B that you've already stuffed into the overhead. If you have some digging to do, get your ass out of the aisle and do it quickly. Everyone is trying to get by you, and unless you're built like Heidi Klum, chances are they can't (or don't want to) squeeze by you.

6. Put your shit above your own seat. I realize this sounds like common sense, but for some unknown reason, for example, the assheads in row 31 always seem to want to stow their crap in the bins above row 2. Of course now the poor guy in row 2 has to plead with a flight attendant to brave the flow of aisle traffic and store his stuff in any bin available (suspiciously near row 31).

7. With modern coach-class seat pitches now designed for the offspring of Tom Cruise and the Lucky Charms Leprechaun, it's a given that the person in front of you is going to recline his or her seat at some point. Don't freak out over this. Of course, also don't do something dumb like rest your hot coffee against the back of their seat or you can expect to be wearing it. However, it's a chain reaction and it's as unavoidable as the forward march of time. Once row 1 reclines, it's all over. Just accept it. The guy behind me on a flight to CDG asked if I could put my seat back UP. Well, the guy in front of me had just shoved his all the way back, and if it's a choice between (a) spending 10 hours with my in-flight TV touching my nose or (b) forcing the guy behind me to likewise recline his seat, game on. I should note this guy behind me was about 2" shorter than I am, as witnessed in a long line for the lavatory. Who needs the legroom? Yeah.

8. Leave the lavatory like you found it. If there were no paper towels on the floor when you went in there, don't be the ass that starts junking up the bathroom. Yes, bending down to retrive a dropped item in an airplane lavatory may require the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil acrobat and a planned meeting with a bottle of Purell, but you dropped it, so pick it up. Also, put the seat lid down when you're done. After 10 hours, the uncovered smell of stale piss filling a room of 10 cubic feet is not pleasant. The lid helps.

9. For the love of all that is holy, when you get out of your seat, do NOT grab the seatback in front of you. This passenger can feel every tap, nudge and grab on that seat. They even know when you remove a magazine from the pouch. Yes, it's hard to stand in front of a seat. Grab the back of your own seat. And whatever you do, if there's a line for the lavatory, don't lean against the back row of seats unless you want the sleeping people in said seats to wake up and verbally accost you.

10. Seat pecking order. If you chose the aisle seat, certain duties befall you as a tradeoff for some extra freedom. One is that you have the responsibility to get up when those in the window or middle seats want to get up. Probably not a good idea to plan to sleep the entire trip. Unless you want them stepping in your lap, be on the ready. Also, studies show a plane deboards most efficiently when people exit row by row. That means, as an aisle seater, you have the responsibility of getting up when it's time for your row to exit. No loafing around being too lazy to get up until the plane is emptied. The people you're blocking may have a connection to make. Get your ass up.

11. That said, if you are not in the aisle seat, some times are better to get up than others. If you aren't experiencing some sort of gatrointestinal pyrotechnics, trying to get up while a service cart is blocking the aisle is just stupid. Trying to get up two minutes into meal service when everyone's trays are down and laden with food and drink is just stupid. Yeah, not everyone gets to pick their seats these days but it's what your stuck with, so use your best judgment. Should that fail you, use mine! (Hey, I know from where I speak. I have at least 10 frequent flier accounts and have observed morons on a variety of continents.)

12. Long-haul flight? If you are going to take your shoes off on the plane, for the love of all that is holy, bring some damn socks. I don't care if you think your feet are clean, they look funky. Not only that, after 10 hours on a transatlantic flight, your feet will be further funking up the carpets. Think of the thousands of people that have sat in your seat putting THEIR funky bare feet in that exact same spot. (On a side note since we're talking about feet: This should go without saying, but as it actually happened next to me, don't fucking trim your toenails on a plane. Someone actually clipped his toenails on board a flight next to me in the middle of the night when everyone was trying to sleep. In business class, no less. *clip*clip*clip* Seriously, nobody wants to be awoken by toejam shrapnel to the face at 3am.)

13. On overseas flights, there's a reason everyone shuts their window shades mid-flight. It's so we can feign the concept of night, get a bit of shut-eye and arrive to our destinations not looking as though we were trampled by livestock. Randomly opening the window shade to peek out is deserving of a flogging with an in-flight magazine, at a minimum. With no cloud cover, the extremely bright light you're letting into a previously darkened cabin is about as subtle as a firehose enema. Might as well bring a Maglite to shine in the faces of your fellow travelers as they sleep. And here's a hint - there's nothing out there. It's fucking clouds. They all look alike, OK? I bring a sleep mask to thwart dolts like that, but seriously, if we're nowhere close to landing, leave the gotdamn shade down. Nothing to see there. Move on.

14. If the person beside you whips out a book and/or an iPod, that is the hint that they do not want to talk to you. Don't take it personally - maybe they're just really into their book. Sure, a little small talk before takeoff is acceptable to most, but some people don't want to know your entire life story, don't care why you're going where you're going and don't want to share such personal info with you either.

15. If you are visibly sick and you fly anyway, some people are going to think you're an asshole. While it helps if you sneeze into tissues and don't cough on anyone directly, after a while, we're all breathing the same recirculated air anyway. If you feel like shit a few days before your flight, load up on Airborne, go to the doctor, drug yourself up. Do something so you are not spewing germs and sickness all over the cabin. If you can avoid it, don't fly. Sick at sea level becomes really fucking sick when pressurized to 10,000 feet. Sinuses are a funny thing.

16. Armrests. How can I forget armrests. One armrest, two people. What to do? Easy. You share it. One of you puts your elbows in the middle of it, one of you puts yours near the seats. Also, you should see the armrest as an invisible wall between you and the person next to you. If you are seated next to a stranger, do not cross it for any reason. OK, unless you're getting frisky. If you believe you are unable to avoid crossing it with your ever-burgeoning ass, either buy two seats or expect my pointy little elbow to be stabbing you throughout the flight. I paid for every inch between my armrests, and I'm gonna defend that turf like I'm Leonidas and you're Xerxes.

17. And finally, this should go without saying. BATHE! I don't care if it's a 45-minute flight or a 15-hour flight. If you smell like B.O. or bunghole, no one wants to sit next to you, and they did not pay good money to spend their time gagging at your putrescence. I don't care if it's not in your culture to bathe but once a week. If you know you are flying the next day, take the oxen down to the creek and wash yourself with leaves or whatever the hell you use.

Now go forth and be less of an ass.TM


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