2 years, 4 months ago
I don't claim to be an expert, but I have logged nearly two million miles on a couple thousand flights inside canisters with wings that are shooting through the air. I have learned a few things over the years and made lots of observations during the process.
Remember, air travel is subject to a lot of outside influences, including weather conditions, that can impact flight scheduling. Everyone traveling is in the same boat, er plane, as you. Be courteous to those around you.
Here are a few comments and suggestions for air travel, in no particular order.
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- Be polite to airline employees, even when they may not be. Too frequently I have observed an air traveler whose flight was disrupted for any number of reasons and they seem to think the gate agent has some control over the weather or mechanical issues or flight crew health issues, etc. I have seen gate agents berated for the most ridiculous of reasons. Be nice. They are just trying to do their job.
- Airline employees are not intentionally trying to ruin your day.
- It is not their fault when a storm comes through a major hub like Chicago or Atlanta causing disruptions across the system. Do not berate them. Work with them to find the best solution.
- Airlines generally are doing the best they can do to get your accommodated.
- It is in the airlines' best interest to get you to your destination as soon as possible.
There are risks associated with air travel that include weather delays, mechanical problems and personnel issues. Accept that as fact and roll with the punches. You and everyone around you will benefit in the end.
Follow the rules of the FAA, the airline and civil society.
- Just because you think you are a very important call, when asked to end your call and put your device in airplane mode, do it. It can delay the flight for others it is very rude to fellow travelers. I have been on many flights where a fellow traveler seemingly thinks the rules do not apply to them, and it impacts everyone else. Be polite.
- Turn off the phone or put it in airplane mode when asked.
- Do not recline your seat before take off.
- Fasten your seatbelt promptly upon settling in.
- Let the flight attendants do their job for flight preparation. Your drink order can wait until airborne.
- Visit the restroom before boarding rather than waiting until you are seated and before takeoff.
- If you have bought a low fare ticket and sitting in a cramped seat in the rear of the plane, do not complain if/when the person seated in front of you wants to recline their seat. It is their right to do so. That is not your space, it is theirs, just as the space for your reclined seat is behind you.
- Checked: If you are traveling with multiple bags or if you are traveling with a bag too large to fit in the overhed bin, check your bags. The RFID technology utilized by airlines today to keep track of your bag is very effective and accurate. You will even get text messages on your phone to tell you at each point your bag is scanned, loading and unloading on different legs of your trip. Yes, on occasion especially when weather causes major disruption, your bag might not make it on your last leg. But the scanning technology allows you, and the airline, to know where it is and what is the most expedient method or route to get it to you. And they do.
- Carryon: If you only carry on, consider your fellow travelers. You are only allotted one bag in the upper bin. You are asked to place any additional bags in the space under the seat in front of you. Honor that and allow others to also utilize bin space for their bags. Space is very limited.
- Backpacks: The bane of my existence on an airplane. If you are traveling with a backpack, take it off and carry it while boarding. There is nothing more annoying than sitting in a aisle seat when some dufus walks down the aisle with a backpack and turns around to talk to his/her buddy. What happens? Smack! That backpack protruding at least a foot from your back has to go somewhere...and it goes in the face of the person sitting in the aisle seat. Think about what you are doing and be spatially aware. Be polite.
- Overhead bin packing
- Don't move other travelers' bags just to accommodate your oversized luggage. If a bag needs to be moved, asked the owner and work out the best solution. Don't be a jerk.
- If you are seated in the back of the plane, don't stuff your bag in the first open bin you come to, ten seats in front of your assigned seat. Bins are to be used by passenges within close proximity to their seats. It is very rude to "steal" someone else's bin space to accomodate your selfishness.
- Don't grab someone's folded garment or other neatly placed article of clothing and throw it somewhere else just to place your bag and don't throw your bag on top of a neatly folded and placed garment. Ask the owner and work out a solution. Be polite.
First Class Upgrades
- Everyone loves an upgrade, but there are not too many of them. Don't try to argue with the gate agent. Airlines used carefully crafte algorithms to determine upgrade status. There was a time, back in the day, when gate agents had more flexibilty and could more easily provide favors. That is no longer the case. Upgrades are awarded to loyal customers in a algorithmic pecking order. Arguing or smooth talking doesn't help.
In the Airport
- Navigating busy airports to get to your connection can be overwhelming and every airport is laid out a little differently. Don't sweat it too much, just try to get to your next gate as soon as you can.
- Ask directions
- Follow the signs
- Get to your gate and relax.
- If you have extra time, go explore the airport. There are often some pretty decent restaurants in the bigger airports. Enjoy.
Waiting to board
- Your boarding pass prints the group you are to board with. Board in your assigned group. Don't break line. You will get your seat and the plane will not leave without you.
- Try to get to your seat and settled as soon as you can to allow others to also board to speed up the process. Get out of the aisle as soon as possible.
- If you are in an aisle seat and board early, don't buckle your seatbelt until your seatmates have boarded. It just saves a little time.
- When appropriate, assist others who may need help in boarding. If someone is having a hard time loading their bag into a bin, offer a helping hand.
Approach to land, beginning descent
- When it is time to begin the approach to land, the cabin crew has several responsiblities. Let them work to get the plane ready to land. They are busy. Don't bother them.
- When getting off a plane, wait your turn. The rows in front of you go first. Don't crowd or push or move forward and block someone in a row ahead of you trying to get out. There is nothing more annoying or rude than someone who crowds the row from behind to try to get one step ahead.
- When walking up the skybridge, if unable to walk quickly, walk to the side so others can get around.
- When approaching the gate door, do not stop there and try to figure out where you are going next. There are others behind you. Step on through, find a spot to stand, and let others by.
The Occasional Bad Experience
- Yes, there will sometimes be problems when traveling. Weather, mechanical, emergencies, crew issues, etc. When it happens, roll with it. The airlines' want to get you to your destination as much as you want to get there. Work with airline employees. It will work itself out.
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