Welcome to a new edition of Social Graces Saturday. Recently I flew out of Philadelphia. Love the people of Philly! However, I had one of the worst flying experiences of my life. There was one passenger that made the flight tense for all those people around them. This person felt the need to block the aisle and tell someone that the seat belt sign was on and that this older gentleman shouldn’t be going to the lav. He told this person to mind their own business in very colorful language. This person talked loudly the entire multi hour flight. Cursing getting up and down out of their seat, getting their bag out of the overhead bin, then putting it back then getting it out… Exhausting. The person that got stuck being this person’s seat mate was a younger gentleman and it was his first experience flying. I bet he never flies again. At one point this person took his phone and ear buds out of his hand and started listening to the music on his phone. Finally another passenger intervened and said you are being rude give him back his phone. Hand to God not making this up. It was a train wreck. However, it did motivate me to write this post. Today we are going to talk about travel etiquette- airplane edition.
The first rule of air travel is know the rules of the airline you are flying. They are generally the same, but each carrier have them posted online so just give them a quick overview before you travel. There are lots of lines in airports especially post 9-11. The more educated you are about what is and what is not allowed the better. That way they don’t have to take the time to explain the rules to you (usually the ones you are breaking) while others have to wait in line behind you.
My second rule is kind of related to the first one. This is an airline rule that I see broken a lot. Make sure that the luggage that you are going to carry on actually fits within the guidelines. I have seen the gate attendants having to deal with people who have carry-ons that are too big. This also delays boarding for the other travelers on the same flight. I understand why this is becoming an increasing issue because of the fees and restrictions airlines are implementing in regards to checking baggage. More people are trying to carry on as much as possible. Just be aware that your actions are effecting other people. Most airlines have a model at their desk that shows the appropriate size for a carry on so you can check to make sure that your bag is within the guidelines.
My third suggestion is if you happen to get bumped off of your flight try not to take it out on the person at the gate or on the flight staff. They didn’t overbook the flight. It is very common for airlines to overbook flights. My last flight asked for a volunteer to get bumped. They offered them a voucher and to put them up in a hotel. A person came forward and all other passengers gave him a round of applause. Please follow this gentleman’s lead. If they ask for a volunteer to get bumped they usually will offer an incentive. If you can be flexible in your schedule, take advantage of it. This will save another person, who maybe has a tight schedule, who might suffer repercussions for missing this flight, the risk of being involuntarily bumped. We have all seen the videos online of people who are getting bumped from a flight and the exchange doesn’t go well. If you can prevent these situations by volunteering please do.
The next suggestion kind of relates to a couple of my previous hints. Please be ready to go through security. Have your boarding pass and ID ready before you reach the TSA person checking these documents. Also, travel in shoes that are comfortable but easily removed so that when you go through security you are efficient and won’t hold up all those behind you. I always like to wear leather slip on shoes or slides when I fly for this very reason. Please make sure that you know what is allowed in your carry on. This relates to the first rule of knowing the regulations of the airline you are flying. I’ve been behind someone in security who had hundreds of dollars’ worth of toiletries thrown away because they didn’t know the rules about the amount allowed in a carry on. I felt bad for them because they were really nice products, but there is no choice but to discard them at that point.
My last suggestion for airline travel is if you have special needs such as traveling with children, animals, or you have a physical requirement, if possible, alert the airline as early as possible. For example, I was in line behind a state titleholder checking her bags, returning home from the Miss America Pageant. She had 9 large bags. Yes 9! She had made prior arrangements and obtained a special voucher to allow for her extra luggage. This will make your travel much more easy and enjoyable if you take the time to think ahead and alert them to any special needs or arrangements.
These little guidelines make a big difference. Next time you travel by airplane please think about what you can do to make your experience and the experience of those around you better. I think air travel is really enjoyable if everyone is respectful of each other. Until next time, straighten up and fly right, and as always…stay glamorous.