Posted by: Michelle | December 14, 2011

Do I Look Like a Sardine?


As I sit wedged in-between two people cruising through the skies at 39,000 feet, I feel the need to have another rant on travel etiquette (or at least comment on the lack thereof)….

Upon my return from Copenhagen (yes, I will eventually blog about that “fun” trek across the Atlantic), I was advised that I needed to be in a meeting on Thursday in New York. Whilst under normal circumstances I would have been thrilled to go to the Big Apple, on this particular day I was less than excited. After all, I wasn’t even home from Europe. I was a bit harried sitting in the United Club (still think the Red Carpet Room sounded better) at Dulles, trying to provide some much needed battery juice to my iPhone in the brief 30 minutes I had before boarding another flight across the country when I became acutely aware of just how much my life was going to suck in the next 9 days. Okay, I know I shouldn’t whine – I do like my job and I do like to travel – but it was a bit more than almost any sane person would want. Let me spell it out for you:

1. CPH-IAD-PDX
2. PDX-RNO
3. RNO-SFO-EWR
4. EWR-SFO-RNO
5. RNO-LAX-IAH-MIA

That’s 10 flights in 8 days; starting in Copenhagen and ultimately 3 transcontinental trips back and forth across the good ol’ USA. Just thought I would provide some context for the upcoming rant about bad travel gremlins. They’re out there and you’re bound to come across one or two if you travel with any regularity.

So where was? Oh yeah, lest I forget someone will poke me with their elbow. I’ve been spoiled; I haven’t been in a middle seat forever. In fact, dare I say it? It’s been awhile since I’ve seen economy (the exception being the regional jets between Reno and San Francisco or Los Angeles). Yes, I have obtained elite status and am regularly upgraded to First. This isn’t about bragging. Trust me, I’m still a rather small fish in a large sea but have grown somewhat accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Okay, okay. I know it’s the small differences and in the grand scheme of things, First isn’t all that grand anymore, particularly on domestic airlines.

I mean, do you really need that cup of lukewarm water or orange juice as you board? Sure, it’s nice that someone hangs up your coat but you can always put it in the overhead bin. Now for the things that do matter… the seat is much bigger and there is no armrest jockeying. They actually still provide blankets, snacks, free booze and a hot meal. In general, you are treated a bit nicer and you do get to board first. Probably my favorite part is getting off the plane in a timely manner. I do not miss my days in Australia where I flew Qantas and had no status so I was always, always in the back of a 767. It could take 30 minutes just to get off the damn plane. This doesn’t bode well for an impatient person such as me.

But let’s go back to the topic at hand – travel etiquette. Let’s start with boarding. Without fail, people will start to line up before boarding starts. People do this for a variety of reasons; some want to ensure they get the overhead space, others just because they have status and earned the right (I happen to fall into that category – but only get in line because I board with the first group). So when there is a line formed and boarding commences, you do not get to stand up from your seat and crowd the front of the line and those who were waiting before you. I don’t care who you think you are, what your status is, or how much your ticket cost; drag your lazy butt to the end of the line! I realize that there may be a few other misguided individuals who are standing in line who don’t belong there but you have to realize that most have the same status as you. Trust me; the gate agent will turn those away who did not listen to the announcement. Regardless, you don’t simply get to board before those who were before you. Where are your manners?

Mind your own space. Please do not put any body part, sleeve, newspaper, etc. into my space. Do I know you? Well, than stay away.

Middle people get the arm rests. Both of them! Seriously, people! If you have the window or aisle seat, you can make do with one. Let the unlucky bastard have both arm rests as the very smallest of perks.

You know that tray table you put up and down [up and down, up and down]? I’m guess you didn’t know this but when you stow it with such gusto and attempt to push it not just in its locked and upright position but actually through the seatback in front of you, you are really pushing it through the back of the person who is sitting in that seat? Or when you release it and just let it fall down, physically jarring the person? In other words, that little tray table is attached! By gently lowering and putting it upright you can avoid causing physical damage to the passenger in front of you.

Same goes for your knees. I know some of you are tall. Heck, I’m tall too (for a short person). So do your best not to plant your knees in someone’s kidneys. When you meet with resistance, that is your cue that you’ve gone [literally] too far. This is the same consideration you give when you recline. Always, always look behind you to spare someone else’s knees, laptop, etc. In other words, do unto other as you would do unto yourself. You do remember The Golden Rule, right?

Guys, this one is for you. When you use the lavatory, lower the damn seat! This has to be my biggest pet peeve on a plane (anywhere for that matter). It is so rude. Hopefully, you will come back on another life as a woman and truly appreciate what it means to lower the seat. Also keep in mind you are to say in your ticketed cabin. This applies even to you in First. When there are 2 lavatories for 16 people, and 3 lavatories for 100+ people… just do the math. Last but not least, it is for one purpose. That would be to relieve bodily functions, not to prepare for a date. Seriously, peeps! How can you spend 20 minutes in that confined space? It is NOT the mile high club! By the way, can someone explain to me why, why, why you would want to join that club anyway? Well? Actually, never mind! I really don’t want to know. Just can’t figure out why you would loiter in an airplane lavatory. I can think of better places. Like a dentist chair.

Seeing that it took me 4 days to get this far, I will end this rant and pick up another day when I’m so completely frustrated I feel compelled to type a blog on my iPad (no easy feat when I don’t have the external keyboard). Hopefully I will find the time to blog about Denmark before I completely forgot I went. Feels like that was a month ago and it has only been 11 days. Yikes, has it only been 11 days? Guess that is what they mean by crazy travel schedule.

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